Mountain West Conference rivals clash on Friday night when the Utah State Aggies host the Boise State Broncos. This is one of the most lopsided conference matchups in the country over the last 10 meetings, as Boise State is 10-0 with wins by an average of 31 points per game. Last time in Logan, Boise State won by just 11. Is an upset brewing this week?
Boise State at Utah State
Date/Time: Friday, October 16 9:00 pm ET
TV: CBS Sports Network
College Football Betting Favorite: Boise State -9.5
This seems like a surprisingly-low total for a Boise State game, since the Broncos have rattled off 204 points over their last four games. It’s also surprising because Utah State, who struggled mightily on offense earlier this season, has scored 89 points over the last two weeks in wins over Colorado State and Fresno State. The line opened at -9, so the early money has trickled in on the boys from Boise.
Everything changed for Boise State when Ryan Finley went down with a broken ankle. It seemed like it was going to change in a bad way, but Brett Rypien, nephew of former NFL gunslinger Mark Rypien, has been spectacular. The true freshman has completed over 70 percent of his tosses for 1,057 yards and has a 7/1 TD/INT ratio. Jeremy McNichols, tasked with filling the cleats of Jay Ajayi, who set a single-season rushing yards record for the Boise State program last season, has averaged just shy of five yards per carry and has found the end zone 12 times. Junior WR Thomas Sperbeck has averaged 19.5 yards per catch on his 27 receptions. Boise State is 19th in total yards per game with 482.3 and is tied for 10th with 40.7 points per game.
Defensively, the Broncos haven’t been tested much. They’ve hung gaudy point totals on bad teams with lackluster offenses. However, it’s hard to knock a defense that has only allowed 24 points over its last four games. A big reason for Boise’s success on both sides of the ball is that they are +10 in turnover margin, with 16 turnovers forced so far this season. With 13 interceptions, they are tied for first with West Virginia and Arkansas State. Safety Darian Thompson is the leader of this group and has been projected as a second-round pick by some draft analysts.
Bryan Harsin didn’t do anything special during his one season at Arkansas State, but the former Boise State offensive coordinator turned head coach is now 17-3 in his first 20 games as the Broncos boss.
Matt Wells is a great head coach. For the third straight year, it’s a quarterback carousel in Logan because Chuckie Keeton is hurt. One of the most exciting, explosive players in the country in 2012, Keeton, who played only three games over the 2013 and 2014 seasons, is out for the next few weeks with a sprained knee. Darell Garretson transferred, leaving Kent Myers as the most experienced backup. Myers has completed 65 percent of his passes and has also run for 181 yards on 21 carries. Junior JUCO transfer Devante Mays has ripped off 7.4 yards per carry on his 35 rushes. With JoJo Natson dismissed from the program and Hunter Sharp suspended early on, the Aggies got off to a slow start, but they’re coming around now. They were also breaking in a new offensive coordinator in Josh Heupel.
Like death and taxes, one of life’s certainties is that Utah State will have a good defense. Just like on the offensive side of the ball, the Aggies had a new coordinator on this side as well. Kevin Clune took over for Todd Orlando, who joined Tom Herman’s staff at Houston. Utah State hasn’t forced turnovers like Boise State has, but they are 18th in the country in total defense. They held Utah to 327 yards in a 24-14 Week 2 loss to the Utes. With 19.2 points allowed, the Aggies are on pace for their fourth straight season of holding opponents under 20 points per game.
All Matt Wells does is win with this program. The Aggies, through QB changes and coordinator changes, are 22-11 under Wells. He’ll be discussed once again this offseason for bigger jobs.
Boise State Broncos vs. Utah State Aggies Free Pick: Boise State -9.5
The Aggies are a pretty one-dimensional offense and that should help Boise State contain their rushing attack. The Broncos have found a good replacement to Jay Ajayi in Jeremy McNichols and Brett Rypien is approaching Kellen Moore territory in his young career. Moore was redshirted for his first year. Rypien is a true freshman, but he looks like a seasoned vet. This is the third road game in 22 days for Boise State, which could play a role, if you’re looking for a reason to back the home dog.
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Good luck this season!