Boise State took on rival Fresno State in week seven of the college football season. The game looked much different than recent contests between these two schools, but the result was the same—a win for the blue and orange.
The Broncos (5-1, 2-0 MWC), with the win, took another step toward the goal of a Mountain West Conference title. It was a hard fought defensive win, which is something fans of the Broncos are probably having a hard time adjusting to. Still, a win is a win, and those same fans will probably gladly take it.
The Bulldogs (4-3, 2-1 MWC) came to play, and it was clear they weren't in Boise to be blown out once again. The new coach of Fresno State, Tim DeRuyter, obviously has his team believing in themselves and playing with a new found toughness.
It was a good game with many highs and a few lows. Let's look at those who had a good day on "The Blue" and those who were just left feeling blue.
The last time Boise State lost to Fresno State was in 2005. At that time, Dan Hawkins was the coach of the Broncos and the Bulldogs were ranked No. 20.
Since that game, things have changed a bit.
Each year since 2006, Boise State has handed the Bulldogs a set back, and it hasn't been without an additional reward—the milk can.
It is a trophy that was developed by dairy producers in the Fresno and Boise areas, and it goes to the winner of the game. Well, since 2006 that has been Boise State.
Now, with the Broncos heading to the Big East and Fresno State nowhere on the schedule any time soon, Boise, Idaho could be the home of the milk can for a very long time.
No one has heard what the milk can thinks about that, but the Boise State football team seems quite okay with giving the can a place to reside.
Without a doubt the biggest winner of the game was the Boise State defense.
The Broncos defense held Fresno State to just 322 total yards on the day and 10 points. However, those points and many of those yards came late in the game when the defensive strategy seemed to change a bit.
The defense of the Broncos held their fourth straight opponent to no points in the first half. With the sheer number of new starters on that side of the ball, it is truly remarkable what the Boise State coaching staff has done this season.
The Broncos and their fans may not be used to winning with defense, but they might want to try to get used to it—this season at least.
The Broncos found themselves struggling at the goal line once again.
The first time was early in the second quarter. The Broncos had a 1st and goal at the 8-yard line. Jay Ajayi took it to about 12 inches from the goal line. Then, on 2nd and a foot, Ajayi tried to get in again, but lost a yard.
On 3rd and goal Ajayi tried to go up the middle, but once again he was pressed back.
At this point of the season, the Broncos have had trouble in several of their games down close. You would have thought sending a big running back like Jay Ajayi up the middle was the answer. However, it was not.
The bottom line is that down close, for some reason, a normally effective offensive line is losing the battle.
The second time the Broncos missed out down close was in the fourth quarter. D.J. Harper ran the ball to the 3-yard line, and on second down Boise State scored a touchdown. However, that touchdown was called back.
Southwick chose to throw to the tight end instead of just running the ball in to the end zone. It seemed like an easy choice to just run it in, but Southwick had no idea his young tight end had stepped out of bounds before touching the ball. That is against the rules, and it cost the Broncos a down and the touchdown.
On third down, Boise State used the wildcat formation to try an option play to Shane Williams-Rhodes up the middle. However, once again they were stopped short. Chris Petersen did the smart thing in both of these situations—he chose field goals.
After all, his team is struggling when close and three points are better than nothing.
D.J. Harper shined once again for Boise State.
Harper looked amazing on Saturday. His touchdown run in the first half that included some broken tackles, an incredible spin move and a dive into the end zone ignited the crowd and his teammates.
On the day Harper carried the ball 21 times for 122 yards and one touchdown. Many of his runs were at critical moments, and his steady stream of yardage helped lead the Broncos to the win.
D.J. Harper's backup, Jay Ajayi, had a great day as well.
Ajayi is proving that he can be the thunder to Harper's lightning. With these two running backs, the Broncos have the one-two punch they have been needing.
Against Fresno State Ajayi carried the ball 15 times for 91 yards with a longest run of 23 yards. He was able to pound it out and give the Broncos the contrast they needed as the game progressed.
Look for more from Ajayi as the season rolls on.
Joe Southwick struggled with control at times, but it also looked like a few receivers were expected to be in different locations on their routes.
Whether that is true or not, only the Broncos know. However, the passing game for Boise State struggled against Fresno State.
In fact, it was really the only area of the game where Boise State didn't excel.
On the day Boise State threw for just 120 yards as a team. Quarterback Joe Southwick passed 22 times connecting on just 11 for 113 yards. Southwick had one touchdown pass, but matched that with one interception.
If Boise State can get a passing game going, now that the running game is looking good, there is not a team on their schedule that can stop them.
Demarcus Lawrence is just a redshirt sophomore and Boise State fans should be happy about it.
Lawrence, once again, had a great day. He hurried quarterback Derek Carr all day long and sacked him twice. He also forced a key fumble on one of those sacks that his teammate Michael Atkinson gladly scooped up.
Lawrence now has six sacks on the season and 26 tackles. You can expect him to add many more to those totals by the season's end.
Geraldo Boldewijn was one of the bright spots in the passing game for the Broncos. He only had three catches in the game against Fresno State. However, he was the leading receiver and every one of those three grabs were impressive.
Boldewijn had a touchdown catch on the day, and he made some impressive moves after every time he caught the ball.
Look for even more from this talented receiver next week against UNLV.
The crowd set the tone.
On the first play for Fresno State on offense, the crowd got involved. That led to a delay of game call against the Bulldogs.
The crowd noise continued to be a problem for Derek Carr and his offense as the game progressed. Deep in south end zone territory the Bulldogs were having a hard time getting anything done. This was especially true in the first half.
The fans should be commended for their involvement, and Chris Petersen, his staff and his players probably appreciate it very much.