A few mid-major and 2nd-tier Power-5 college programs lost out on a New Year’s Six bid early in 2018, only to run roaring to the finish line. Boise State is definitely in that category. Beaten soundly by Oklahoma State in September, the Broncos have spent the last 2 months proving that they’re still the Boise Blue.
But ahead of BSU in the Mountain West’s “Mountain” division is 10-1 Utah State. The Aggies have a perfect conference record and have no intentions of blemishing it (and missing out on the MWC Championship Game) with a loss to the Broncos on Thanksgiving weekend.
Who: Utah State Aggies at Boise State Broncos
When: Saturday, November 24th, 10:15 PM EST
Where: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
Lines: Utah State (+2.5) at Boise State (-2.5) / O/U Total: (67.5)
It has been a truly awesome year for the Aggies, with the lone blemish coming in a 38-31 thriller at Michigan State in the season opener. The Aggies have have utterly dominated against Mountain West foes, but last weekend’s win over Colorado State was anything but a rout. More on the chaotic win over heavy-underdog Colorado State:
While USU was able to mark down a 29-24 victory, the win over the Rams was secured only after a would-be, game-winning touchdown on the final play of the game was waved off when an official ruled that CSU receiver Preston Williams had stepped out of bounds prior to making a 34-yard catch in the end zone. That meant that just minutes after celebrating the high point of a very disappointing season, CSU head coach Mike Bobo and the Rams found themselves stunned and confused, while the Aggies slowly started to realize they had not lost the contest after all.
“You go from thinking everything that you’ve been working for just came crashing down when you lose to Colorado State, and then it flips right around and you end up winning,” said USU linebacker Chase Christiansen. “It’s kind of hard to describe. The whole last part of the fourth quarter was just an absolute roller coaster of emotions. It was pretty crazy. I’ve never seen a game like that before, and I don’t know if I ever will again.”The Aggies were up 23-17 and were slated to get the football back with 2:25 to go before a muffed punt by Deven Thompkins opened the door for the Rams to put up a TD just two plays later. Down 24-23 — the first time USU has trailed in the second half of a game since the season opener at Michigan State — the Aggies scored quickly themselves, needing just six plays and 53 seconds to get into the end zone on a 33-yard completion from Jordan Love to Aaren Vaughns that made it 29-24.
That was the final score in Fort Collins, even though the scoreboard at Canvas Stadium would briefly show a tally of 30-29 with no time on the clock.
No doubt the last-second reprieve and lessons-learned will help the Aggies remember to fight to the end no matter what, even if an opponent appears over-matched. But Utah State’s competition becomes much stiffer when the team visits the legendary blue turf to battle the Broncos.
Sophomore quarterback Jordan Love has thrown for 2,845 yards, 25 touchdowns, and only 4 interceptions. A 2-headed backfield monster of Darwin Thompson and Gerold Bright has gashed defenses all year. Senior wide receiver Ron’quavion Tarver leads a balanced receiving corps with 56 catches for 600 yards and 6 touchdowns.
Meanwhile, sophomore LB David Woodward is all over the field for an Aggie defense that recently held Cole MacDonald of Hawaii to just 18 completions on 45 pass attempts.
Boise State is riding a 6-game win streak. Senior quarterback Brett Rypien has been phenomenal and hopes to close out his Bronco career with a Mountain West championship. Rypien has completed an outstanding 68.5% of his passes for 3,270 yards, 28 touchdowns, and 7 interceptions.
Junior running back Alexander Mattison is coming off back to back 100+ yard games and eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark again in the Broncos 45-14 win vs New Mexico. The receiving duo of Sean Modster and A.J. Richardson has been unstoppable, combining for 104 catches and 15 touchdowns. Defensive lineman Curtis Weaver has been a force in a vaunted pass rush, leading the conference with 9.5 sacks.
While there are lots of feel-good stories about Utah State learning to win ugly, the bigger story is that the Aggies may be missing the killer instinct after so many breezy wins. CSU does not have 1/3rd of the talent of USU and never should have been in the ballgame. Boise State has the brawn on defense to challenge the high-octane visitors.
But I’m liking the under more than BSU-to-cover. Utah State may score only 3 touchdowns and a handful of field goals, even if the school manages to beat a storied host and advantage to the title scrum. A final score of 28-21 is more-likely than a Big 12-style Nintendo Bowl, and the O/U line is too inflated.
Take the under (67.5) for a winner on blue turf.