Boise State must be careful not to look beyond its game with the Colorado State Rams on Saturday.
The Broncos squandered complete control of the Mountain West by losing to San Diego State on November 3; now they must win out to claim the conference title many assumed was theirs by default.
They sit at 5-1 in the conference and 8-2 overall. With Colorado State and Nevada still on the schedule, they can't afford another letdown.
The game at Nevada on December 1 is the most challenging on paper, but the Rams are likely looking at this Saturday's matchup like it's a bowl game.
They may as well, as it's the closest they will get to a postseason berth this year. They are 2-4 in the conference and 3-7 overall. The Broncos should expect to see the Rams' best effort, as they have nothing to lose.
Here's how you can catch this Mountain West showdown.
When: Saturday, November 17, 3:30 pm
Where: Bronco Stadium in Boise, Idaho
Radio: AM 560 KLZ in Denver and AM 670 KBOI in Boise
Spread: Boise State favored (-30) per OddsShark.com
Colorado State Rams
Garrett Grayson—QB—Questionable—November 17 (shoulder)
Boise State Broncos
Michael Atkinson—DT—Out For Season (knee)
Bryan Douglas—CB—Out For Season (knee)
Cory Yriarte—C—Out For Season (knee)
The Rams have no shot at playing in the postseason, but the Broncos are headed for a bowl game—win or lose.
As of right now, you'd have to expect that they would play in the Las Vegas Bowl as the top Mountain West team. However, if they lose, they could drop to the Poinsettia or Armed Forces Bowl.
That would be quite a blow considering the Broncos were the odds-on favorites in the conference at the beginning of the season.
That's not the way they want to take their talents to the Big East.
Notable Quotes, Strategies and Trash Talk
Denver Post Takes A Poke At Boise State
In a Who's Hot and Who's Not section of the Denver Post, Christopher Dempsey cited the Broncos' attack as the latter.
The Boise State offense. It's certainly relative, given Boise State's high-scoring past, but this year has been a rocky road for the Broncos' offense, which ranks 87th nationally in total offense and 79th in passing offense. It has scored 20 or fewer points four times this season, and the offense did not score in a 7-6 win over BYU in September.
As Jay-Z once said, "Men lie, women lie, numbers don't."
Take It Easy on Southwick
The Broncos offense has sputtered a bit this season. However, they did put up 49 points against Hawaii on November 10.
Before you say, "Yeah, that was on Hawaii, though," realize that the Rams are ranked 81st in the nation in points allowed at 30.1.
It seems that numbers are calling both these teams out.
Bleacher Report's Ethan Grant hears the criticism of the Boise State offense, and it is inevitable that some of the blame gets thrust upon quarterback Joe Southwick.
Grant believes that Southwick is just experiencing some growing pains and that he'll be fine as he matures.
He wrote: "Bottom line—Southwick has had the type of season you'd expect out of a guy that played his first full collegiate game on the road in East Lansing."
I would agree with the notion that Southwick is developing as most should expect, but even with his growing pains, the Broncos should handle the Rams—especially at home.
Boise State's Key Player: Joe Southwick
About the only way the Broncos can lose this game is to turn it over repeatedly.
Running backs and wide receivers can fumble, kickoff and punt returners can botch catches and returns but the onus for ball protection falls on Southwick.
If he plays controlled and allows the Broncos' superior playmakers to make plays, he and his team should be fine.
In the Broncos' two losses, Southwick has zero touchdown passes and two interceptions.
Colorado State's Key Player: Cory James
James is just a redshirt freshman, but he's already the Rams' best player on defense.
His ability to make big plays is one of many things the Rams need if they hope to pull a huge upset in Boise.
James leads the team in sacks with 6.5 and tackles for loss with 9.5. He'll need to mix in some forced fumbles and possibly an interception to help his team in this one.
He has shown the ability to be a positive catalyst for the team.
The Rams may bring a big effort, but the Broncos are just too talented at nearly every position.
Southwick will have a great game against an overmatched defense. Boise State's defense has quietly made up for most of the offenses' woes.
This unit doesn't get enough credit for how well they've played—they are only allowing 14.4 points per game this season.
The Broncos will win this going away, 41-10.
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