Colorado State (3-7) at Boise State (8-2)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, Nov. 17, 3:30 pm (et).
FACTS & STATS: Site: Bronco Stadium (30,000) -- Boise, Idaho. Television: NBCSN. Home Record: CSU 2-3, BSU 4-1. Away Record: CSU 0-4, BSU 4-1. Neutral Record: CSU 1-0, BSU 0-0. Conference Record: CSU 2-4, BSU 5-1. Series Record: Boise State leads, 1-0.
GAME NOTES: No longer the vaunted BCS busters they were in the recent past, the Boise State Broncos are now resigned to the fact that they can do little more than finish out the regular season strong, and that begins with one last home date this weekend against Colorado State in Mountain West Conference action.
Boise State, which still has a road date against Nevada at the start of December, has just two setbacks this season by a combined six points, but because the Broncos are not in a BCS Conference and are one of the teams that most of those other schools fear the most, making it into one of the prestigious bowls is probably out of the question at this point.
Last week the Broncos, who are now in third place in the MWC standings, rebounded from their 21-19 home loss to San Diego State by lighting up the Hawaii Warriors out in Honolulu by a score of 49-14. The point total was the most by Boise State this season and just the third time it was able to break the 40-point barrier which is a far cry from last year when the team averaged 44.2 ppg over the course of 13 outings.
As for the Rams, a squad that has just two wins in six league contests, they managed to log their second win in the last three games over the weekend with a 33-11 romp over visiting UNLV. The only other tallies in the win column for CSU this season have come following meetings with Colorado and Hawaii.
Last year marked the first time the teams ever faced off against each other, with Boise State thumping CSU by a score of 63-13.
While he has had his issues growing into the position held by a number of very successful players in recent years, quarterback Joe Southwick appeared to have complete control of the offense for the Broncos against Hawaii as he converted 17-of-29 passes for 209 yards and three touchdowns, but more importantly, no interceptions. Aaron Burks was responsible for five catches for 107 yards and a TD, while backup quarterback Grant Hedrick completed three of his four pass attempts for 47 yards and also scored once on the ground.
Defensively, the Broncos not only picked off a couple of passes, they also delivered six sacks and 10 tackles for loss overall which dropped Hawaii's rushing output to minus-14 yards. Samuel Ukwuachu stepped up with two sacks, as did Tyler Horn who made just two tackles in the outing. Demarcus Lawrence added to the excitement with a 25-yard fumble return for a touchdown.
Lawrence has put together a very impressive stat line through his nine appearances, ranking first on the team with 8.5 sacks and 11.5 TFLs, while also coming up with three forced fumbles, two recoveries and a blocked kick which must be comforting to Southwick and the rest of the offense.
While Southwick might not be a budding superstar for the Broncos, the team does have one in the backfield in D.J. Harper who leads the group with 828 yards rushing and 12 touchdowns. Harper also has 16 catches for another 120 yards and a score as well.
In the win over UNLV, the Rams leaned heavily on running back Donnell Alexander who responded by posting a career-high 139 yards and a pair of touchdowns on 21 attempts. The effort by Alexander helped to take the pressure off Conner Smith who ended up hitting 16-of-27 passes for just 109 yards and an interception.
The defense also put up a strong front for CSU, particularly in the first half as Shaquil Barrett returned an interception 49 yards for a score in the opening quarter, followed by Shaq Bell with his 30-yard fumble recovery for a TD moments into the second frame. Altogether the Rams forced four turnovers, three on consecutive possessions in the first half, and held the visitors to just 219 yards of total offense.
For the most part, the defense for the Rams tends to get better as games go along, but during the first quarter of outings the team has been a doormat for the competition, giving up a combined 110 points in the period, then another 72 in the second frame as well. Trying to slow that progression is Cory James who leads the group in both sacks (7.5) and TFLs (10.0) after 10 games.
With so many issues at the quarterback position this season, it only makes sense that the passing attack for the Rams is not up to snuff. It also doesn't help when the offensive line is permitting 2.7 sacks per game either, which is just one of the reasons why the smart bet is to go with Boise State this weekend.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 45, Colorado State 10
11/14 10:41:42 ET