BOISE, Idaho — The top two offenses in the conference are set to collide Saturday on The Blue when Boise State and Fresno State battle for the Mountain West Championship at Albertsons Stadium.
The Broncos (9-3, 8-0 MW) and Bulldogs (8-4, 7-1 MW) were destined to meet for the throne from the start of 2022. Back in July, the two regional powers earned first-place projections for their respective divisions. Boise State and Fresno State have also squared off three previous times for the conference championship since 2014.
Despite the predictions and history, the path to prominence appeared unlikely for both squads just two months ago. The Broncos started the season 2-2, coming off a brutal loss to UTEP in El Paso. The defeat was followed by changes at offensive coordinator and quarterback.
Fresno State also experienced a rocky beginning, with its star quarterback Jake Haener suffering an ankle injury and the Bulldogs dropping four of their first five games.
The two Mountain West programs then flipped the switch on their seasons. Boise State went on to go undefeated in conference play, thanks to its defense's never-say-die attitude and the impressive work of Dirk Koetter and redshirt freshman quarterback Taylen Green.
Haener returned behind center Oct. 29, and Fresno State went on to win seven-straight games following its 40-20 loss on The Blue on Oct. 8. The Bulldog gunslinger earned All-Mountain West First Team honors this week
Likewise, Green won the conference's Freshman of the Year award and Boise State's Andy Avalos captured Mountain West Coach of the Year. Avalos is the first Bronco leader to earn the honor since Chris Petersen did so in the Western Athletic Conference (WAC) in 2008 and 2009.
As the 'Official Station of Bronco Nation,' fans can follow the score, updates and highlights from Albertsons Stadium with KTVB's Game Tracker and live blog below. The Game Tracker includes a real-time scoreboard and the latest Twitter updates from KTVB Sports Director Jay Tust, sports reporter Brady Frederick and Boise State football.
Kickoff is scheduled for 2 p.m. MT Saturday at Albertsons Stadium. The game will be nationally televised on Fox. For more on ways to watch the game, fan information, series history and more, check out KTVB's Game Day Guide.
With such a high-powered battle in store, the consensus in Las Vegas gives the Broncos a three-point advantage at home Saturday. However, ESPN's Matchup Predictor likes Boise State with 69.2% confidence.
While Boise State's offense is playing at an impressive level and has the power to go blow-for-blow with the Bulldogs with Green, George Holani and Ashton Jeanty, the Broncos are banged up on defense.
Last week against Utah State, Boise State was without Herbert Gums (DT), Ezekiel Noa (LB), Alex Teubner (S), Demitri Washington (EDGE), Zion Washington (S) and George Tarlas (EDGE) is out for the season. During the third quarter, Ahmed Hassanein (DE) left the game with an injury and the explosive Tyreque Jones (Nickel) went down early in the fourth quarter and was carter off the field.
Noa and Jones were seen in full pads with no contact limitations during the Broncos' practice Tuesday. Noa has not played since the BYU game Nov. 5.
Before action gets underway, tune into the Bronco Roundup Game Day Show from 11:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. MT Saturday for an inside scoop on storylines surrounding the Broncos-Bulldogs battle.
Boise State fans can prepare for kickoff with insight from KTVB Sports Director Jay Tust and sports reporter Brady Frederick, live on KTVB Channel 7, KTVB.COM, KTVB+ on Roku and Amazon Fire TV and the KTVB mobile app.
The exclusive pre-game show will feature interviews, injury updates, players to watch and more, live from the sidelines of Albertsons Stadium.
Bronco Nation can follow Saturday's championship bout from anywhere with KTVB's Game Tracker and live blog. The Game Tracker features a real-time scoreboard and the latest updates from Tust, Frederick and Boise State football.
Interviews with Boise State head coach Andy Avalos and players will be posted online soon after the press conference ends, so Bronco Nation can watch the press conference whenever and wherever they want.
Stay tuned to KTVB.COM after the game for a recap, highlights and comments from Saturday's contest.
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