Boise State Football: 3 Keys to a Bronco Win at Michigan State
Boise State has been here before. A nationally televised opening game against a ranked opponent from a "major" conference, has become a tradition for the Broncos, and one that has paid off big time.
However, this season brings challenges the crew from Boise hasn't faced in recent years. With so many new players, including a new quarterback, a new starting running back and a mostly new defense, the question really is: Are the Broncos in a rebuilding or reloading year?
Bronco fans are hoping for the latter, but until the season commences, there is no concrete proof to support one view over another. Fans, coaches and players wouldn't have it any other way.
After all, Boise State prides itself on the results on the field rather than the ink on the paper or the words floating wildly in Opinionville.
On Friday night in East Lansing, the nation should see a great game. They will also see if Chris Petersen and his team are for real in 2012. Not that the season will be made or broken when Michigan State and Boise State face off, but the game should give clear insight into the direction the Broncos program is headed this season.
The way it looks now, there are three keys to a win for Boise State. Three keys, that should the Broncos succeed, would bring them victory over the Spartans in their own house.
Key No. 1: Embrace the environment
If this young team, that isn't so young, can handle the crazy environment in East Lansing, it could go a long way to help win this game.
The Broncos have 25 seniors on this team, so it isn't like they are going in with players who haven't faced big game environments before. In fact, this senior class has been around for Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia.
However, many of the same veteran players have never started in those high profile, hostile games, so it will be interesting to see how they handle the pressure.
If the veterans can keep it together, play to their potential and keep the younger players focused and intense, it will go a long way to help the Broncos take home the victory.
The key is really embracing the environment as an "us versus the world" attitude. It is something coach Petersen is masterful at portraying, and it only helps a team play harder and come together as group, which will help set the tone for the entire season.
Key No. 2: Ring the Bell
In other words, keep the powerful, strong and very big running back of the Spartans contained.
If the Broncos brand new defensive line, and mostly new linebackers, can keep junior Le'Veon Bell under wraps all game long, it will be a key factor for a Bronco victory.
In saying that, it won't be easy. Bell is 6'2", 244 lbs., and he his known for his bruising style and difficulty in being tackled.
If Boise State is able to stop Bell early and often it will force Michigan State into a passing attack. With the talent the Broncos have in their defensive secondary, and the fact that the Spartans have a brand new quarterback of their own, it could force the game to play to Boise State's strengths.
If this occurs, it will allow Boise State to control the pace of the game and frustrate an offense that has been overshadowed by the talk of how good the MSU defense will be. If they try to do much on offense you can expect some turnovers and Boise State knows how to capitalize.
Key No. 3: An average Joe
It is no secret that Boise State has a new quarterback in 2012. Junior Joe Southwick was recently named the starter, and for good reason.
Southwick has spent three years learning behind Kellen Moore and the last two seasons backing him up. Joe knows the offense well, and is athletic, mobile and talented.
In this first game of the season, and the first of Southwick's career as a starter, the Broncos quarterback doesn't have to be the superstar. In fact, he doesn't even have to have an incredible game to lead the Broncos to victory.
All Southwick needs to do is have an "average" game. What does that mean? It means make good decisions, hand the ball off to capable running backs and complete short to medium length passes to a receiving corp that is probably the best Boise State has ever fielded.
If the junior does those things, and doesn't turn the ball over, Boise State has a very good chance at out-pacing and out-scoring the Spartans.
Conclusion: Three keys = one victory
If Boise State is able to do these three things all night long, the Broncos should bring a victory back to Boise. If they struggle in any of these areas, it will be a challenge.
No matter what happens, it will be fun to watch, and Bronco fans can expect the Broncos to be ready.
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