While BYU is coming off of its first loss of the season, Boise State is gunning to forget the season opener against Michigan State.
Boise State beat Miami (OH) last week, 39-12, avenging its loss to Le'Veon Bell and the Spartans in Week 1.
BYU is coming off a heart-wrenching 24-21 defeat to Utah last week after a wild ending that saw kicker Riley Stephenson shank a 36-yard field goal at the end of regulation.
Here's a look at the matchup between the two teams on Thursday.
Where: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
When: Thursday, Sept. 20 at 9 p.m. ET
Listen: KFNZ 1320 AM/KZNS 1280 AM/ESPN 700 AM (Utah), KBOI 670 AM (Boise)
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Injury Report (via USA Today)
QB Riley Nelson - Back - Probable
DL Ian Dulan - Back - Doubtful
LB Zac Stout - Achilles - Doubtful
OL Houston Reynolds - Achilles - OUT for season
LB Kevan Bills - Knee - OUT for season
OL Jake Broyles - Undisclosed - Questionable
S Taylor Loffler - Knee - OUT for season
Spread: Boise State -6.5 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
Both of these teams have solid defenses, but I think Boise State ultimately wins by a touchdown in this one.
I think it will be close throughout, but the Broncos will pull away later in the game with Riley Nelson struggling lately.
Over/Under: 50.5 (via ScoresAndOdds.com)
It's hard for me to see these two teams combining for more than 50 points.
Their scoring averages this season suggest otherwise, but they have both been boosted in certain games by facing poor defenses.
They don't have top-tier offenses and their defenses don't give up a lot of points (neither has given up more than 14.5 points per game).
Take the "Under" in this one.
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Boise State is currently No. 24 in the country in the AP poll, exactly where the Broncos started out this season.
After a tough 17-13 loss to Michigan State to open the season, the Broncos rebounded against Miami (OH) last week. Senior running back D.J. Harper ran for a career-high 162 yards and three touchdowns in the 39-12 victory.
After a 12-1 record (6-1 MWC) last season, Boise State is trying to bounce back from the season-opening loss to Michigan State.
As for BYU, the program is attempting to finish ahead of Notre Dame as an independent, but that may prove tough given Notre Dame is currently ranked No. 11 in the nation.
BYU (2-1) is coming off a rough 24-21 loss to Utah last week.
Key to BYU Win: Passing Attack
With not much of a running game, the BYU offense relies heavily on senior signal-caller Riley Nelson.
After starting out red-hot against Washington State in the season-opening 30-6 victory (285 yards, two touchdowns), Nelson has struggled as of late. He went 17-of-35 for 206 yards (5.8 yards per attempt) and two touchdowns to one interception against Utah last week.
There's also the fact that the offensive line has struggled lately. Nelson was sacked four times against Utah.
Key to Boise State Win: Pass Defense
Lost in the fact that Boise State gave up 210 rushing yards and two touchdowns to Michigan State's Le'Veon Bell in Week 1, was that the Broncos only allowed 17 points regardless.
That's in large part due to the pass defense, which put the clamps down on Spartans quarterback Andrew Maxwell (6.5 yards per attempt, three interceptions).
Boise State also held Red Hawks quarterback Zac Dysert to 6.5 yards per attempt and no touchdowns last week.
With Nelson and the Cougars' offensive line struggling, you could see the Boise State defense rise to the occasion.
Prediction: Boise State 24, BYU 17
I think Boise State's defense will be the difference in this game. Not only is quarterback Joe Southwick coming off a big game, Riley Nelson is coming off a poor performance.
Given what Boise State has done to opposing quarterbacks so far, I don't see this going well for Nelson and Co. in Boise.
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