BYU vs. Boise State Football: Complete Game Preview
Brigham Young University travels to Boise State to take on the Broncos Thursday night in what is a short week for both teams. It will be the third time these two teams have faced off, with Boise State winning both previous contests.
It will be a sold-out game and a guaranteed record crowd in the newly remodeled Boise State stadium. It should be an electric atmosphere with mountains of volume rising from the blue-and-orange saturated bleachers.
Can the Cougars claw their way back into the top 25? Can the Broncos defend "The Blue"?
With the game quickly approaching, there is just enough time to dive into the facts.
Depth Chart for Boise State
QB: Joe Southwick, Grant Hedrick
RB: D.J. Harper, Drew Wright
FB: Dan Paul, Chandler Koch
TE: Gabe Linehan, Chandler Koch
WX: Matt Miller, Aaron Burks
WZ: Mitch Burroughs, Troy Ware
HR: Kirby Moore, Chris Potter
RT: Jake Broyles, Rees Odhiambo
RG: Michael Ames, Brenel Myers
OC: Matt Paradis, Spencer Gerke
LG: Joe Kellogg, Marcus Henry
LT: Charles Leno, Faraji Wright
DE: Demarcus Lawrence, Tyler Horn
NT: Mike Atkinson, Greg Grimes
DT: Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Darren Koontz
DE: Sam Ukwuachu, Beau Martin
WB: J.C. Percy, Tyler Gray
MB: Tommy Smith, Blake Renaud
NB: Dextrell Simmons, Corey Bell
CB: Jamar Taylor, Ebo Makinde
CB: Jerrell Gavins, Bryan Douglas
S: Jeremy Ioane, Hazen Moss
S: Lee Hightower, Darian Thompson
P: Trevor Harman, Dan Goodale
K: Michael Frisina, Dan Goodale
KO: Trevor Harman, Dan Goodale
KR: D.J. Harper, Mitch Burroughs
PR: Chris Potter, Mitch Burroughs
LS: Chris Roberson
Depth Chart for BYU
QB: Riley Nelson, James Lark
RB: Michael Alisa, Williams
SR: J.D. Falsev, David Foote
WR: Cody Hoffman, Skyler Ridley
WR: Ross Apo
TE: Kaneakua Friel, Austin Holt
LT: Ryker Mathews, Michael Yeck
LG: Houston Reynolds, Famika Anae
OC: Blair Tushaus, Vaitai
RG: Brock Stringham, Vaitai
RT: Braden Brown, Kafu
DE: Eathyn Manumaleuna, Mike Muehlmann
NT: Romney Fuga, Simote Vea
DE: Russell Tialavea, Ezekiel Ansah
LB: Spencer Hadley, Alani Fua
LB: Uona Kaveinga, Zac Stout
LB:Brandon Ogletree, Manoa Pikula
LB: Kyle Van Noy, Jherremya Leuta-Douyere
CB: Jordan Johnson, Micah Hannemann
CB: Preston Hadley, Buckner
S: Daniel Sorensen, Mike Hague
FS: Joe Sampson, Craig Bills
PR: J.D Falslev
KR: Cody Hoffman
KO: Riley Stephenson
P: Riley Stephenson
FG: J. Sorensen
What Happened to the Broncos Last Week
The Broncos found their winning ways again in Week 3 against Miami (Ohio).
The game was a bit sloppy in the beginning, with the young Boise State team allowing the RedHawks to remain close at the half.
In the second half, the Broncos came around and came of age. They looked like the Broncos of old and won the game quite easily.
The final score was 39-12, but it really wasn't even that close.
On the day senior running back D.J. Harper ran the ball 16 times for 162 yards and three rushing touchdowns. He also had a 21-yard reception for another TD on the day.
Junior Joe Southwick stepped up his game as well. Southwick went 24-of-31 for 304 yards, two touchdowns and one interception.
The defense played great, as did the offensive line.
What Happened to BYU Last Week
BYU entered Week 3 of the college football season ranked No. 25 in the nation.
The Cougars, however, enter their Week 4 game against Boise State unranked. The reason? A heartbreaking loss to arch-rival Utah 24-21.
The scene was Rice-Eccles Stadium in Salt Lake City. It was a crowd of 45,653, and they were loud and rowdy.
The home team, Utah, scored first, but BYU answered with four minutes and 40 seconds left in the second quarter on a 10-yard touchdown pass from Riley Nelson to Cody Hoffman. That scored tied it up going into the break.
The third quarter was the key to this contest. Utah came out, kicked a field goal and then proceeded to score two touchdowns. In the face of 17 unanswered points, BYU found itself trailing 24-7 in the fourth.
BYU came storming back and got within three. With the score 24-21, the end of the game became one of those sequences of events that fans never forget.
With the game appearing to be over, the hometown crowd stormed the field to celebrate Utah's win. However, referees determined there was a single second on the clock. So, because the crowd entered the playing surface during a game, a penalty flag was thrown.
With the penalty BYU then got a chance at at 51-yard field goal that was blocked.
Game over, right? Nope.
The fans stormed the field again while the ball was still live. So, they moved it up 15 more yards for one last play.
With no time on the clock and now from the 36 yards out, the Cougars had one more opportunity. However, that second—no, third—chance bounced off the upright, and the field goal was no good.
What It Means to Both Teams
This game means a lot to both teams. BYU certainly wants to get back into the top 25 and put itself in contention for a great bowl game.
However, for the Broncos this could be a real chance to climb their way higher in the rankings and instill confidence in their team and excitement in their fanbase.
If Boise State wins this game, it has a real chance of winning out. That would mean an 11-1 record, which could be enough to get them into a BCS game. Remember, all the Broncos have to do is finish in the top 16 of the BCS rankings and ahead of any BCS conference champion for an automatic bid.
If that happens, and it could, it would be a huge boost to a program that is already rising. However, it all starts Thursday night, and Broncos fans know that BYU won't just roll over.
Each team will no doubt be playing with passion and hungry for victory. The team that wants it the most will definitely be the one that takes the win.
Key Player for Boise State
The key player for Boise State will once again be Joe Southwick. Some might argue that D.J. Harper should be the key, but not against BYU.
The Broncos will need Harper and the other running backs, but the key in this contest will be the passing game.
To move the ball against BYU, redshirt junior Joe Southwick will need to do what he did against Miami (Ohio), minus the interception. In that game he threw to nine different receivers and connected on 24 of 31 pass attempts. He also had two passing touchdowns and one interception.
Southwick cannot afford to turn the ball over, and controlling giveaways will be key. The decision-making of Boise's QB will be crucial; taking advantage of red-zone opportunities, critical.
If the short- and mid-range passes are working, the running game will have success as well. In most games the running game is utilized to open up the passing game. However, against BYU and its defense, the opposite will be true.
Spreading the ball around and getting the Cougars out of their comfort zone will be something Southwick will need to do with his arm and at times his legs.
If Joe Southwick doesn't turn the ball over, spreads it around to multiple targets and takes advantage of red-zone opportunities, it will be a long night for the BYU Cougars.
Key Player for BYU
Senior quarterback Riley Nelson is the absolute key to a Cougar victory. In three games this season, he has thrown for a total of 735 yards, five touchdowns and two interceptions.
The running game for the Cougars is average, but they do have several backs that can carry the ball. Their leading rusher is Michael Alisa, who has 163 yards on the season.
The Cougars offense utilizes the run, but they depend on the passing game.
Against Utah, the running game was nearly nonexistent, so Nelson took it upon his shoulders to get it close. He is a phenomenal competitor, and the Broncos had better have a way to shut him down.
In BYU's first game of the season, against Washington State, Nelson went 25-of-36 for 285 yards and two touchdowns. He was the biggest reason the Cougars of BYU beat the other Cougars, 30-6.
He will be looking to do the same thing in Bronco Stadium on Thursday.
Boise State Will Win If...
When Joe Southwick completed a 21-yard pass to D.J. Harper in the end zone for the first Bronco offensive touchdown of the season, a collective sigh of relief could be heard rolling over the crowd at Bronco Stadium.
It was probably a relief for Joe as well.
As the game went on against Miami (Ohio), Southwick got better and better. He will need to continue that progress Thursday.
If Southwick is able to complete passes early and often to several targets, it will do three things.
First, it will instill confidence in the Broncos offense and coaching staff. There is something to be said for momentum, to which anyone who witnessed the second half against Miami (Ohio) could attest.
Second, it will spread out a BYU defense that is solid but not the same when it has to continually cover sideline to sideline.
Lastly, it will provide the perfect conditions for the running game to succeed. If Boise State can spread out the Cougars defense, Harper, Wright, Willams-Rhodes and whomever else coach Pete throws out there will have fair amounts of success.
On defense, the Broncos have an excellent secondary, and they will need to continue to prove that against BYU. If they are able to cover the talented Cougar receivers, it will force Riley Nelson into a situation he isn't that good at handling.
On the year, BYU quarterback Riley Nelson has been sacked six times and hurried on several occasions. When that happens, he is not the same player.
If the Broncos defensive line plays similarly to or even better than the way they did last week, it will mean bad things for BYU and will go a long way to produce a Boise State victory.
BYU Will Win If...
The keys for BYU will be protecting its quarterback, running the ball and trying to rattle Joe Southwick.
If the offensive line can step up for the Cougars, it will allow their talented QB to have the time he needs to make good decisions. Another thing time would for the BYU offense is allow their receivers to get open.
The Broncos have a great secondary, but if the opposing quarterback has the time to throw, it is very difficult to shut down the passing game altogether.
Another benefit for the Cougars in having an effective passing game is that it should allow them to run the ball effectively.
Running the ball effectively produces first downs and chews up clock, which in turn keeps Joe Southwick, D.J. Harper and the excellent receivers the Broncos have on the sidelines rather than the field.
If the BYU defense can rattle Southwick, it will also help greatly. Forcing the Boise signal-caller out of the pocket and into situations in which he will try to force things could help the Cougars' quest for victory.
In the end, if Brigham Young can protect its quarterback, run the ball and rattle the Broncos quarterback, it may have a real chance at taking home victory.
The game is in Bronco Stadium, and the Broncos are red hot after their first win of the season. Joe Southwick has gained confidence, and so has the rest of the team.
The Boise State defense is looking like the kind of defense Broncos fans are used to, and the running game looks to be solid.
BYU is coming off a heartbreaking loss, and it has to travel on what is a very short week for both teams.
However, that benefits the home team.
Not only that, but the Cougars game finished hours after the Boise State game, which normally would mean nothing but means a lot this week.
Look for the confident Broncos to have the energy, crowd and momentum to get it done.
Prediction: Boise State 36, BYU 16
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