BOISE - The Boise State football team travels south to Logan this week for a Saturday night matchup against Utah State.
LIVE GAME TRACKER: Broncos vs. Aggies
The Broncos (5-2, 3-0 MWC) are riding a three-game win streak, including victories over conference rivals San Diego State and Wyoming. But with divisional foe Colorado State (6-2, 4-0 MWC) also undefeated in conference, Boise State may need to run the table in conference to earn a spot in the Mountain West Championship Game.
The Aggies (4-4, 2-2 MWC) are also riding high following a 52-28 beatdown of UNLV last week. After two straight losses, they've found fresh life behind redshirt freshman quarterback Jordan Love, who replaced starter Kent Myers, and became the first Aggie quarterback to top 200 yards passing in his first start since Chuckie Keeton in 2011. Utah State rolled up nearly 600 yards of offense in the win over UNLV.
A resurgent Aggies team playing at home in Logan should make Bronco Nation a little nervous, especially considering the last time the Broncos played in Maverick Stadium - two years ago - they were on the losing end of a 52-26 thumping that included eight Boise State turnovers.
But this year's team seems to thrive on the road, as evidenced by dominant wins over BYU and then No. 19 San Diego State earlier this month.
"I think this team likes being on the road. You know not every team is like that," Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said at his Monday press conference. "You've got to be able to win on the road. Everybody hopes at the end to have a chance to play for a championship, you've gotta find ways to win on the road."
For their part, the Aggies know that if they have any hope of competing for the Mountain West Championship, they'll have to take down the Broncos.
"Road to the championship goes through Boise," said Utah State coach Matt Wells. "We've got two losses in the league, so I understand where that puts us in the race. To me, they are who everybody is shooting for in the league, so they will absolutely get our best shot."
- Boise State at Utah State
- Saturday, Oct. 28
- Maverick Stadium, Logan, Utah
- Kickoff: 8 p.m.
The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network, which can be found on the following channels:
- Cable One: Channel 139 / 1139 (HD)
- DirecTV: Channel 221
- Dish Network: Channel 158
ON THE RADIO
Fans can listen to the game on the Bronco Radio Network, which can be found online or on the following stations in the Boise area:
- KBOI 670 AM
- KTIK 93.1 FM
For a list of Bronco Radio Network stations outside the Boise area, click here.
BRONCO ROUNDUP GAME DAY
KTVB's Bronco Roundup Game Day show will be live from Maverick Stadium from 7 - 8 p.m. on KTVB, KTVB.COM, and in the Bronco Roundup app. Join Jay Tust, Will Hall and special guests for a live look at all of the major storylines leading up to kickoff.
Boise State leads the all-time series 16-5 in a rivalry that stretches back more than 40 years. The Broncos and Aggies first played in 1975, a 42-19 Utah State win at Bronco Stadium. The teams played sporadically until the mid-90s, and now play annually as divisional foes in the Mountain West. The Broncos have dominated the series since both teams joined the conference, many of the wins coming as blowouts. The sole exception was Boise State's last trip to Logan - in 2015 - when the Aggies beat the Broncos 52-26.
Boise State's all-time record against Utah State:
- Oct. 1, 2016 - W, 21-10 (Boise)
- Oct. 16, 2015 - L, 26-52 (Logan)
- Nov. 29, 2014 - W, 50-19 (Boise)
- Oct. 12, 2013 - W, 34-23 (Logan)
- Dec. 4, 2010 - W, 50-14 (Boise)
- Nov. 20, 2009 - W, 52-21 (Logan)
- Nov. 8, 2008 - W, 49-14 (Boise)
- Nov. 10, 2007 - W, 52-0 (Logan)
- Nov. 18, 2006 - W, 49-10 (Boise)
- Oct. 22, 2005 - W, 45-21 (Logan)
- Sept. 28, 2002 - W, 63-38 (Boise)
- Nov. 11, 2000 - W, 66-38 (Boise)
- Oct. 30, 1999 - W, 33-27 (Logan)
- Oct. 24, 1998 - W, 30-16 (Boise)
- Nov. 1, 1997 - L, 20-24 (Logan)
- Oct. 19, 1996 - L, 14-39 (Boise)
- Sept. 9, 1995 - W, 38-14 (Logan)
- Oct. 15, 1983 - L, 7-10 (Logan)
- Nov. 13, 1982 - W, 30-10 (Boise)
- Oct. 29, 1977 - W, 23-16 (Logan)
- Nov. 15, 1975 - L, 19-42 (Boise)
ABOUT LAST WEEK
On the Blue against Wyoming last Saturday, the Broncos fully embraced their two quarterback system - and it worked. Brett Rypien and Montell Cozart were swapped out regularly, often multiple times during each drive.
After failing to produce anything more than a field goal in the first half, the Broncos put together three straight scoring drives to open the second half, one of which ate up nearly 10 minutes off the clock.
Cozart rushed for two touchdowns and threw for another in the 24-14 win.
The Broncos' defense continued to impress, harassing future NFL quarterback Josh Allen, who threw for 131 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. Boise State's front seven sacked Allen four times, and sent him scrambling on multiple occasions.
The Broncos leading tackler, Leighton Vander Esch, racked up 11 tackles, while Kekoa Nawahine had seven and Tyson Maeva had six. Redshirt freshman defensive end Curtis Weaver continued to cement his status as a backfield terror, sacking Allen twice. With six sacks so far this season, he's now tied for first in the conference and 16th in the nation.
Bolse State vs. Wyoming
Meanwhile, the Aggies rolled up 578 yards of total offense in a 52-28 win at UNLV Saturday. After losing two straight games, Utah State made a change at quarterback, replacing starter Kent Myers with redshirt freshman Jordan Love, who threw for 316 yards and two long touchdowns of 70 and 75 yards. The effort earned Love Mountain West Offensive Player of the Week honors in his first start.
On the ground, LaJuan Hunt carried the load, rushing for 101 yards on 16 carries, and three touchdowns.
Utah State at UNLV
One of the biggest payoffs of Boise State using two quarterback efficiently is the challenge that it presents to the opposing defense, which must prepare for two entirely different skill sets, and requires quick adjustments on the fly.
Against Wyoming, Brett Rypien played 39 snaps, while Montell Cozart played 30. Both quarterbacks had a hand in the Broncos' three scoring drives of the second half, as they rotated in and out multiple times. It shouldn't work, but because both signal callers - and the offense as a whole - have bought into the idea, it created a unique situation that gave the Wyoming defense fits.
“It’s tough because you don’t know what they’re going to do,” said Wyoming safety Andrew Wingard, noting that the defense had to significantly change their schemes each time the quarterback changed.
Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill pointed out on Monday that there is a delicate balance when it comes to the quarterback carousel.
"We've got to be a little bit careful with the in and out and the subbing and the rotation," Hill said. "But it does make it tough with defensive coordinators with trying to gameplan, and like I've said before, [Rypien and Cozart] handle it really well, our team handles it really well.
"No it's not typical, it's not ideal, but they want to see each other succeed and win," Hill said of his quarterbacks. "It's not about the stats or the touchdown passes or how man yards you're throwing for. At the end of the day, are we celebrating in the locker room together?"
While the Broncos' offense has been hit and miss this season, the defense has been consistently dominant along the line of scrimmage during the team's three-game win streak. They enter this week ranked 19th in the country in total defense with 313 yards per game allowed.
Against Wyoming, Boise State forced two turnovers while tallying four sacks. The Broncos rank 10th nationally in rush defense (103 ypg allowed) and 20th in sacks (21).
"For us, position group-wise, these are some of our favorite position groups we've ever coached," defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. "Just a bunch of good guys that work hard. They'll do what you ask, and at the end of the day, that's what makes it fun."
RACE TO THE TOP OF THE MOUNTAIN
This week marks the halfway point of conference play for the Broncos - four games down, four to go - and there are still several teams that control their own destiny in the Mountain West's Mountain Division.
Colorado State is sitting in first place with a 4-0 conference record. Boise State is in second at 3-0, just ahead of 2-1 Wyoming. The Broncos will travel to Fort Collins on Nov. 11 to take on the Rams in a game that could potentially decide the division title.
And while there are no major surprises so far in the Mountain Division, the West is a different story entirely, as Tom Scott reports in Monday's Scott Slant column:
"The West Division race in the Mountain West has been turned inside out the last two weeks. Boise State’s 31-14 drilling of San Diego State was one thing, but the Aztecs were expected to bounce back with a victory over Fresno State and win out from there to take the division title, something they were unanimously picked to do. But the resurgent Bulldogs, who went 1-11 last year, had other intentions and dominated San Diego State 27-3 Saturday night. Fresno State is now 4-0 in conference, while SDSU is 2-2. That means the Aztecs will have to win all the rest of their games and hope the Bulldogs lose three of their last four contests. San Diego State’s two-year reign on top of the Mountain West is all but over."