BOISE - The Boise State football team travels to Laramie, Wyoming this week to take on the Cowboys in a showdown of the top two teams in their division of the Mountain West Conference.
The 13th-ranked Broncos (7-0, 3-0) are coming off a nail-biter of a win against BYU at Albertsons Stadium last Thursday. They are one of just nine undefeated teams in the FBS heading into this weekend, and are in command of their own destiny when it comes to making a big-money bowl game.
After a disappointing two-win season last year, the Cowboys (5-2, 3-0) are on an October hot streak, having won their last three games. Each of those wins came against Mountain West foes, including last week's 42-34 takedown of Nevada in Reno. It's their best conference start since joining the Mountain West in 1999.
This Saturday, Wyoming will attempt to accomplish a feat that has eluded them over the years: beating the Broncos.
Both Boise State coach Bryan Harsin and Wyoming coach Craig Bohl are expecting a great game on Saturday.
"Let's just be clear, we are out to win this game," Bohl said on Tuesday. "[It's] a big, big ball game. We are excited... it's going to be a great college football game.
"This game has big implications, not only with the Mountain West Conference, but nationally," he added. "When you look at [Boise State's] performances, it's not by chance that they're undefeated."
For his part, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said he has the utmost respect for Bohl and what he has accomplished in Laramie.
"It's no surprise that Wyoming has developed this season and is having success, and that starts with the coaches on their staff," Harsin said. "So, what an awesome contest we're gonna have on Saturday in Wyoming."
- Boise State at Wyoming
- Saturday, Oct. 29
- Kickoff: 5 p.m. MT
- War Memorial Stadium, Laramie, Wyoming
The game will air on CBS Sports Network, which can be found on the following television providers:
- Cable One: Channel 139 / 1139 (HD)
- DirecTV: Channel 221
- Dish Network: Channel 158
ON THE RADIO
In the Boise area, you can listen to the game on the Bronco Radio Network, which can be found on the following stations:
- 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 War Memorial Stadium from 9 - 10 a.m. on KTVB, KTVB.COM, and in the Bronco Roundup app. Join Jay Tust and Will Hall for a live look at all of the major storylines leading up to kickoff.
Boise State is 10-0 all-time versus Wyoming, including a 5-0 record in Laramie, and have won six games this decade by an average score of 46-12.
On the Blue last year, the Broncos won 34-14. Two years ago at War Memorial, Boise State obliterated the Cowboys by a score of 63-14.
BATTLE FOR THE MOUNTAIN
Saturday's game will feature the two teams tied for first place atop the conference's Mountain Division standings. The Cowboys and the Broncos are both 3-0, and whoever wins will be in the driver's seat for the division title and a spot in the conference championship game.
The only other Mountain West school that is unbeaten so far this season is San Diego State (6-1, 3-0) in the West Division.
Mountain West - Mountain Division
- Boise State: 7-0, 3-0 MW; Streak - W7
- Wyoming: 5-2, 3-0 MW; Streak - W3
- New Mexico: 4-3, 2-1 MW; Streak - w2
- Colorado State: 4-4, 2-2 MW; Streak - W1
- Air Force: 4-3, 1-3 MW; Streak - L3
- Utah State: 3-4, 1-3 MW; Streak - W1
Mountain West - West Division
- San Diego State: 6-1, 3-0 MW; Streak - W3
- Hawai'i: 4-4, 3-1 MW; Streak - W1
- UNLV: 3-5, 2-2 MW; Streak - L1
- Nevada: 3-5, 1-3 MW; Streak - L2
- San José State: 2-6, 1-3; Streak - L1
- Fresno State: 1-7, 0-4 MW; Streak - L6
ABOUT LAST WEEK
Despite five turnovers, the Broncos were able to hold off BYU last week for a 28-27 win. The team needed a stout defensive performance and blocked field goal to secure the win as the clock wound down. And just like last year's game between the two teams, the game ended on a Hail Mary pass. However, unlike last year, BYU couldn't replicate the deep-throw magic, as the ball was knocked down in the end zone.
Jeremy McNichols rushed for 140 yards and had 109 yards receiving along with a pair of touchdowns. Thomas Sperbeck also had 109 yards receiving on nine catches, his 11th career game with more than 100 yards receiving.
In Reno on Saturday night, Wyoming running back Brian Hill rushed for 289 yards and three touchdowns in a back-and-forth 42-34 win over the Wolf Pack. Quarterback Josh Allen ran for two more scores, giving the Cowboys a season-high 403 yards rushing.
Allen completed eight passes for 135 yards, but the team clearly focused on the run game, and it worked.
Hill carried the ball an impressive 29 times, averaging 10 yards per carry. The performance earned him Mountain West Conference Offensive Player of the Week honors.
On defense, the Cowboys' secondary continued to struggle as Nevada backup quarterback Ty Gangi threw for 300 yards after stepping in for starter Tyler Stewart, who went down with an injury in the first quarter. Wyoming is currently ranked sixth nationally in most passing yards allowed this season.
The Broncos moved up one spot this week to No. 13 in both the AP Top 25 and the Amway Coaches Poll. Boise State is the highest-ranked Group of Five team, and remains alive in its quest for a New Year's Six bowl game.
Wyoming, meanwhile, received one vote in this week’s Amway Coaches Poll. A win over a top-15 Boise State team would go a long way toward gaining the Cowboys their first national ranking since 1999. That year, the Cowboys were ranked No. 25 in the AP poll for a single week.
Nose tackle David Moa was named Mountain West Special Teams Player of the Week, thanks in large part to his game-saving blocked field goal against BYU.
It was the sixth-straight player of the week honor bestowed on a Boise State player. Other Broncos honored this season include quarterback Brett Rypien, running back Jeremy McNichols (three times), cornerback Tyler Horton, and punter Sean Wale.
'TURNOVERS GOTTA STOP'
Although the Broncos are 7-0, they have been far from consistent in two phases of the game: offense and special teams. At his weekly press conference, coach Bryan Harsin talked at length about the areas that need to be improved, not the least of which is the turnover problem.
The team is minus-8 in turnover margin this season, a remarkable stat considering their undefeated record, and their dominance in that category in recent years.
"Turnovers gotta stop," Harsin said. "The answer to that is, we're gonna continue to emphasize it, we know it's important to us, and we gotta find ways to hang on to the football and find ways to get it."
Harsin also pointed to inconsistent play on special teams and offense as areas that need immediate improvement.
"We let quite a few opportunities slip through our hands, literally, at times on special teams," Harsin said. "And that needs to end."
SCOTT SLANT: Improvement: Let Harsin count the ways
But for its difficulties this season, the Broncos have stepped up in the face of adversity, and found ways to win tight games.
"I will say this, we are a tough team," Harsin said. "These guys play hard, they show their toughness in the most difficult situations, and with all the things we have to work on from an execution standpoint, I'll take tough in the game of football anytime."
Speaking of toughness, the Broncos and Cowboys each feature a hard-nosed ground game, with prolific, game-changing running backs leading the way.
Boise State's Jeremy McNichols is tied for the national lead with 16 touchdowns this season, and is ranked sixth in rushing yards. A true dual-threat, McNichols has amassed 1,287 yards (915 rushing, 372 receiving).
Wyoming back Brian Hill is ranked second in the country with 1010 yards, and averaging 144.3 yards per game.
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