This week's gridiron clash is the 2009 season finale as the Aggies invade the Smurf Turf in Boise, ID. We got the lowdown on the Broncos from Kevan at One Bronco Nation Under God, the laugh-out-loud funny but always informative Boise State football website.
The Broncos are 12-0 and hoping for a BCS bowl game for the second time in four years. If Boise State beats the Aggies, do they deserve a BCS game?
Call me old-fashioned, but I think any undefeated team deserves a shot at a BCS bowl game, especially a team that got looked over the previous year by the BCS committee. Going undefeated is a tall task in today's college football. I would even vouch for the inclusion of an undefeated Sun Belt team in a BCS game. Well, any team except for Louisiana-Lafayette because I'm not entirely convinced they are a real school.
Boise State has done everything asked of it to qualify for the BCS. The Broncos are playing by the rules, they are winning, and they are saying all the right things. If Boise State doesn't get in this year, it would be the equivalent of Fast and Furious not getting an Oscar nod. Actually, bad example. How about that Where The Wild Things Are movie? People liked that one, right?
Which team is better, the 2006 undefeated Fiesta Bowl Broncos, last year's 12-1 Broncos or this year's currently 12-0 Broncos squad?
Excellent question. You might get a different answer depending on what Bronco fan you ask, but here's my ranking:
1. 2006 Fiesta Bowl Broncos
2. Last year's 12-1 team
3. This year's 12-0 team
A case could seriously be made for the 12-1 team being better than the Fiesta Bowl group. But I'll stick with my answers above. I think that the 2008 team had the best defense, the 2009 team has the best offense, the 2006 team had the best team, and the 2007 team had the most Taylor Tharp.
Boise State's let some teams hang around this year before earning the 'W'. What's been the reason for that?
I think the Broncos are slowly trying to kill me. And it's working! My Wii Fit age went from 21 to 39 over the course of the WAC schedule.
There are actually a number of factors that have contributed to close games. Let me take a stab at naming them all: Not scoring touchdowns in the red zone, big plays by the opposing offense, lack of a run game, missed FGs, fumbled snaps from center, youth and inexperience. Fortunately, all of these factors haven't shown up in the same game yet this season; they've been interspersed throughout. Over the past several games, these issues have mostly been fixed, which is why it's no surprise Boise State is playing its best football of the season.
How much will the loss of WR Austin Pettis hurt the Bronco offense?
Bronco fans expect Pettis's loss to hurt a lot, and I think I speak for everyone when I say that we are anxious to see how the offense looks and performs on Saturday.
The good news is that the Broncos still have a lot of playmakers on offense. The bad news is that the team will need to find new ways to get them the ball. Nevada shut down Titus Young after Pettis went down, largely because no other receiver on the Broncos hurt the Wolf Pack. I expect to see Boise State use the TEs more in the passing game and even put Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin to good use out of the backfield. Young is better when he's in a supporting role, so it will be interesting to see how the Broncos use him against NMSU.
What will Aggie fans see when the Broncos have the ball and what can they expect to see when the Broncos are on defense? Don't be surprised if Boise State comes out trying to establish a running game. Worst case scenario on Saturday, the Broncos lose. Second worst case scenario, Kellen Moore gets hurt. If Avery and Martin can handle the running game, Moore won't have to throw nearly as often. Then again, all season long I have been wrong about how the Broncos will gameplan, so Moore could very well come out slinging.
On defense, Boise State excels at taking away an offense's strength, and while "strength" might be a bit of a reach to describe anything NMSU does on offense, I expect the Broncos to focus on the Aggies' running game on Saturday.
Who are some key players to watch, who is the best player on offense other than Kellen Moore and which players are key on defense for Boise State?
The offense's best player at this point might very well be RB Doug Martin. He has been a beast the past couple games, and he has done so as the No. 2 back. Also, the offensive line has been on top of its game in recent weeks, especially OG Kevin Sapien.
The Boise State defense is pretty stacked at every position. I'll focus on the ones the Aggies are likely to see the most. The defensive line, led by DE Ryan Winterswyk and DT Billy Winn, can be downright dominant at times. That group could have 20 tackles alone on Saturday. Last week saw injuries to BSU's top two MLBs, so Hunter White will see increased playing time this week. He seems born to play against the run, and he will be in on a lot of tackles for sure.
What does Boise State need to do to come out of this game with a win?
I will resist the obvious "just show up" joke because I am better than that. The Broncos could do a lot of things wrong on Saturday and still come away with a win. I would say that the most hope an Aggie fan could hold to this week is in how depressing Boise State played against FCS foe UC Davis. If the Broncos can play down to UC Davis, who can't they play down to?
What do the Aggies need to do to Boise State to score an upset or at the very least keep the score respectible and will Coach Peterson run up the score if given the opportunity to make a statement to the BCS Selection Committee, especially with TCU sitting at home?
Coach Pete is not one to run up the score, so I think that scenario is out. I would imagine he would prefer to build a big first half lead and then work in some backups throughout the rest of the game.
New Mexico State has to do a lot of things right to have a chance in this one. College football's culture is changing to one of parity, but I don't think that parity has found its way to the WAC just yet. If NMSU plays flawless on 3rd down on both offense and defense, they can keep the game close. And if the game is close, anything can happen.
Prediction and Final Score?
Boise State will jump on the Aggies early, inspired by the emotion of Senior Day and encouraged by the insanely wide talent gap between the two teams. I'm calling a 45-7 final score.