The No. 24 Boise State Broncos (1-1) are hosting the Brigham Young Cougars (2-1) in an important Thursday night game that will be nationally televised on ESPN.
Since it’s the biggest college football game on prior to Saturday, you can bet that many fanatics will be tuned in to catch the Idaho-based Mountain West powerhouse take on the independent squad from Utah.
Let’s take a closer look at some of the key players to watch in this contest.
Will Southwick Lead the Broncos to Victory?
The Broncos QB will have to play great in order to earn a victory against one of the top defenses in the nation.
Boise has yet to allow Southwick to take a sack, but are now facing a defense that employs two quarterback destroyers in Kyle Van Noy and Spencer Hadley.
Southwick will not be afforded the same generous amount of time he usually has in the pocket, and it’ll be impressive if he can keep his completion percentage above 60 and his interception number at or below one.
Should he accomplish those goals, it’s likely the Broncos will take this game.
The sixth-year senior RB is going against a brick wall defense that has allowed a paltry 53.0 rushing yards per game over three contests.
Harper’s racked up 170 yards and three touchdowns on 31 carries in Boise’s first two games, but he’s going to have to dig deep to come anywhere near those averages against the Cougars.
Expect Boise to try to establish the run early, and move away from it quickly if they fail.
Kyle Van Noy
Van Noy is tied for fifth in the country with 4.5 sacks on this young season, and is looking to add a few more notches to his belt on Thursday night.
The 6’3”, 235-pound junior wasn’t a major factor in 2011 due to injury, but he’s back and better than ever this season.
Expect him to be a nightmare for Southwick and the Broncos’ offensive line in this matchup.
The junior wideout has put together back-to-back 100-yard games after a relatively quiet performance to open the season against Washington State.
He’s now totaled 281 yards and two touchdowns on 18 receptions in 2012, and should be QB Riley Nelson’s top target in this game.
If Hoffman is shut down, expect the BYU offense to sputter along with him.