For those who witnessed Michigan State running back Le'Veon Bell power his way for 210 yards and two touchdowns against Boise State to start the season, it may seem ill-advised to say the Broncos' defense will propel them past BYU on Thursday.
But a closer look at the Boise State defense, particularly since a disappointing season-opener, suggests it's not as bad as it appears.
First of all, you have to look at the whole picture. While Boise State allowed Bell to scamper for 210 yards, it's also worth noting that the Broncos gave up just 17 points to Michigan State in Week 1. That's in large part due to the fact that Michigan State quarterback Andrew Maxwell averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt with three interceptions.
Flash forward to last week's game against Miami (OH).
RedHawks quarterback Zac Dysert averaged just 6.5 yards per attempt in that game. If you take out the 53-yarder he had, he had 123 yards passing on 26 attempts (4.7 yards per attempt).
Boise State also allowed 2.1 yards per carry against the RedHawks while ultimately allowing just 12 points. Although Miami (OH) is a mediocre team, it's still worth noting the improvement of the Broncos' defense.
Boise State head coach Chris Petersen, who needs no introduction at this point, said after last week's performance, via ESPN:
We've kind of always been that team that when we get it rolling we can get some things done. But it was probably good for us to go through that, stumble on ourselves a little bit, because we're going to have some tight games as we know down the road so it's good for those kids to have to battle through those things.
Will Boise State's defense show up on Thursday?
Remember, this is a team that allowed just 18.3 points per game last season, 11th in the FBS. That included holding high-powered Georgia to 21 points to start the season (which, believe it or not, was an accomplishment).
Helping Boise State's case on Thursday is the fact that BYU's offensive line had issues protecting senior quarterback Riley Nelson in last week's 24-21 loss to Utah. Nelson was sacked four times.
BYU's offensive line also had trouble opening up holes for the running game as the Cougars rushed for just 2.5 yards per carry.
It will be defense that ultimately pushes Boise State past BYU on Thursday at Bronco Stadium.