BOISE - After a frustrating loss at home last weekend, Boise State looks to get their season back on track as they hit the road to face a Nevada team that has had an up-and-down season of its own.
The Broncos (3-2, 1-1 MWC) and Wolf Pack (3-3, 1-1 MWC) have a long rivalry dating back to 1971. In fact, Boise State has played Nevada more times (43) than any other opponent. The Broncos have won 15 of the last 16 meetings, including a 41-14 win at Albertsons Stadium last season.
The rivalry continues Saturday with more than just bragging rights at stake. Both teams are coming off a home loss to a conference opponent, and are desperate to find a rhythm as they get into the thick of Mountain West play.
Last weekend's 19-13 loss at the hands of San Diego State showed the Broncos are continuing to struggle on the offensive line, particularly when it comes to protecting quarterback Brett Rypien, who was sacked four times. Boise State was heavily-favored in the game, but managed only 229 yards of offense. The Aztecs put up just 267 yards of offense - a credit to BSU's defense - but it was enough as the SDSU defense shut down the Broncos' offense.
Another recurring concern for Boise State's offense - a paltry rushing attack, which is currently ranked 89th nationally in rushing yards per game. Coach Bryan Harsin addressed the issues at his press conference on Monday.
GAME TRACKER: Boise State vs. Nevada
"We want to run the ball," Harsin said. "We'll keep saying that because that's what we believe. That will never change, right now we're no good at it. For our standard, we're no good at it.
"I know this, I have a lot of faith in our O-line," he added. "I know we have good players there... We're certainly much better than what we've shown."
In Reno last weekend, the Wolf Pack failed to score a touchdown as Fresno State thumped the home team 21-3. It didn't help that Nevada was without starting quarterback Ty Gangi, who suffered a leg injury the week before. Despite the lopsided score, however, there was a silver lining: Nevada's defense held the Bulldogs to a season-low 271 yards. But it was UNR's three turnovers than sealed their fate.
So far this season, Nevada has not won (or lost, for that matter) two games in a row. After opening the season with a 72-19 blowout of Portland State, the Pack lost 41-10 at Vanderbilt, won a close 37-35 game at home against Oregon State, lost 63-44 at home against Toledo, won 28-25 at Air Force, and lost at home against Fresno State.
As the Wolf Pack look for their first back-to-back wins of 2018, coach Jay Norvell used a surfing analogy to describe his thoughts on the Broncos coming to town.
"We kind of equate it to surfing," Norvell explained. "If you're waiting for a wave, you're not going to wait for a small one. You want a big wave... they're a good football team and we're excited to measure ourselves against them, and that's why you play. These guys came to school to play these kind of games - to play the Fresnos, to play the Boises."
- Boise State at Nevada
- Saturday, Oct. 13
- Mackay Stadium, Reno, Nevada
- Kickoff: 8:30 p.m. MT
- Line: Boise State by 17
- Weather: Upper 50s, clear
The game will be televised on CBS Sports Network (Rich Waltz, Aaron Murray, Cassie McKinney), which can be found on the following channels:
- Cable One: Channel 139 / 1139 (HD)
- DirecTV: Channel 221
- Dish Network: Channel 158
- Cox: Channel 234
ON THE RADIO
Fans can listen to the game on the Bronco Radio Network (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender), which can be found online or on the following stations in the Boise area:
- KBOI 670 AM in Boise
- KTIK 93.1 FM in Boise
- KDZY 98.3 FM in McCall
- KSNQ 98.3 FM in Twin Falls
Here is a list of Bronco Radio Network stations outside the Boise area.
BRONCO ROUNDUP GAME DAY
KTVB's Bronco Roundup Game Day show will be live from Mackay Stadium from 7 - 8 p.m. on KTVB (Digital Channel 7.1), 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.
DEFENSE TAKES A HIT
It's that point in the season when injuries start piling up for many teams. The Broncos and Wolf Pack are no exceptions.
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin announced on Monday that starting safety DeAndre Pierce will not play for the rest of the season because of a spleen injury suffered in the Wyoming game on Sept. 29. The junior promised in a Twitter post that he would be back next year.
Also on Monday, Harsin said that starting defensive tackle David Moa would be out indefinitely due to a lingering calf injury from the summer. He could return for a bowl game, Harsin noted. The loss of Pierce and Moa - both multi-year starters - is a big hit to the Boise State defense.
SCOTT SLANT: Life without DeAndre Pierce and David Moa
"The biggest thing about these two individuals is just how they responded," said defensive coordinator Andy Avalos. "I think it's helped their teammates, helped all of us. We love those guys. They're not only good football players, but they're tremendous leaders for us."
Meanwhile, Nevada coach Jay Norvell is hopeful that his starting quarterback - senior Ty Gangi - will be back to full strength for the Boise State game. Gangi didn't play in the loss to Fresno State, due to a thigh bruise. He did not practice on Monday, but according to Chris Murray of Nevadasports.net, he did practice on Tuesday.
Getting Gangi back is key to securing a win against the Broncos. The senior has completed 108 of 183 pass attempts for 1,332 yards and 11 touchdowns. He has thrown six interceptions this season. In contrast, his backup Cristian Solano, was just 22 of 43 for 195 yards, no touchdowns and three interceptions in the loss to the Bulldogs.
On defense, Nevada is without starting defensive back E.J. Muhammad, who had surgery late last month after an unspecified injury. He announced days later that he would not play again this season.
BRONCOS-WOLF PACK SERIES
The Broncos own a 29-13 all-time record against the Wolf Pack in a rivalry that dates back to 1971. Boise State and Nevada have faced each other as conference rivals in four separate conferences - Big Sky, Big West, Western Athletic and Mountain West. The series has been particularly lopsided over the past two decades with the Broncos winning 15 of the last 16 games. The teams last played on Nov. 4, 2017, a 41-14 Broncos victory on the Blue.
Boise State's all-time record against Nevada:
- Sept. 25, 1971 - W, 17-10 (Reno)
- Oct. 14, 1972 - W, 56-19 (Boise)
- Nov. 3, 1973 - L, 23-21 (Reno)
- Oct. 5, 1974 - W, 36–16 (Boise)
- Nov. 8, 1975 - W, 49–6 (Reno)
- Oct. 23, 1976 - W, 26–8 (Boise)
- Oct. 15, 1977 - L, 28–10 (Reno)
- Nov. 10, 1979 - W, 28–27 (Reno)
- Nov. 8, 1980 - W, 14–3 (Boise)
- Oct. 31, 1981 - W, 13–3 (Reno)
- Sept. 18, 1982 - W, 20–13 (Boise)
- Sept. 24, 1983 - L, 38–20 (Reno)
- Sept. 22, 1984 - W, 37–12 (Boise)
- Sept. 21, 1985 - L, 37–10 (Reno)
- Nov. 8, 1986 - L, 21–16 (Boise)
- Nov. 7, 1987 - W, 36–31 (Reno)
- Oct. 29, 1988 - W, 40–28 (Boise)
- Nov. 4, 1989 - L, 30–14 (Reno)
- Nov. 10, 1990 - W, 30–14 (Boise)
- Dec. 8, 1990 - L, 59–52 (Reno)
- Oct. 26, 1991 - L, 17–14 (Reno)
- Sept. 11, 1993 - L, 38–10 (Reno)
- Sept. 17, 1994 - W, 37–27 (Boise)
- Oct. 12, 1996 - L, 66–28 (Reno)
- Nov. 8, 1997 - L, 56–42 (Boise)
- Oct. 31, 1998 - L, 52–24 (Reno)
- Oct. 23, 1999 - W, 52–17 (Boise)
- Oct. 27, 2001 - W, 49–7 (Boise)
- Nov. 23, 2002 - W, 44–7 (Reno)
- Nov. 29, 2003 - W, 56–3 (Boise)
- Nov. 27, 2004 - W, 58–21 (Reno)
- Oct. 29, 2005 - W, 49–14 (Boise)
- Nov. 25, 2006 - W, 38–7 (Reno)
- Oct. 14, 2007 - W, 69–67 (Boise)
- Nov. 22, 2008 - W, 41–34 (Reno)
- Nov. 27, 2009 - W, 44–33 (Boise)
- Nov. 26, 2010 - L, 34–31 (Reno)
- Oct. 1, 2011 - W, 30–10 (Boise)
- Dec. 1, 2012 - W, 27–21 (Reno)
- Oct. 19, 2013 - W, 34–17 (Boise)
- Oct. 4, 2014 - W, 51–46 (Reno)
- Nov. 4, 2017 - W, 41-14 (Boise)