Boise State started the 2012 season with BCS bowl aspirations. An opening loss to Michigan State stunted expectations, but a 21-19 loss to the San Diego State Aztecs did them in.
The Broncos (9-2, 6-1 MWC) will travel to play the Nevada Wolf Pack (7-4, 4-3) to finish the regular season. Both schools will be playing in a bowl game, but one of them has a bit more at stake.
With Air Force already committed to the Armed Forces Bowl, Nevada will play in the Gildan New Mexico Bowl regardless of the outcome on Saturday.
The Broncos can still stake their claim to the Mountain West Conference's top bowl game and another trip to Nevada in December.
When: Saturday, Dec. 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET
Where: Mackay Stadium, Reno, Nev.
Live Stream: Watch ESPN
Radio: Free Football Radio; 670 KBOI Boise; 94.5 ESPN Radio Reno.
Betting Line (via OddsShark)
Over/Under: 59.5, Spread: Boise State, -8.5
Nevada is known for moving the ball and putting points on the board. The offense is balanced with solid ground and passing attacks that has the unit 16th in the NCAA with 38.5 points per game.
The Broncos defense ranks at No. 5 with 14.4 PPG. The net effect is the Broncos are better on defense than the Wolf Pack is on offense.
With Nevada not likely to score at its normal clip, the likelihood of this game reaching the over is called into question.
Injury Report (via USA Today as of Monday, Oct. 19)
Greg Grimes, DT, Questionable (Undisclosed)
Hazen Moss, DB, Questionable (Undisclosed)
Jake Broyles, OL, Questionable (Leg)
Alex Pinto, OL, Questionable (Leg)
BCS/Top 25 Implications
Boise State needed to finish in the Top 16 of the BCS Rankings to keep its hopes for a BCS bowl game alive. Its loss to San Diego State kept it from reaching that goal.
The prize awaiting the Broncos with a win is a share of the Mountain West Conference Championship with Fresno State (9-3, 7-1) and the Aztecs (9-3, 7-1).
The MAACO Las Vegas Bowl is awarded to the conference winner. Boise State would likely earn that honor as the ranked team and having the best non-conference record.
Boise State Player to Watch: Jeremy Ioane, S
Joe Southwick is a key cog to the Broncos offense, but this game comes down to what Boise State can do on defense.
That is where Ioane comes into play. Ioane is a physical safety that defensive backs coach Jimmy Lake enjoys coaching, per the Idaho Press-Tribune: "He’s brought a lot of toughness to our defense. We have a lot of defenses where he’s free to come down and put some hits on people, which he’s done."
Ioane has a pair of interceptions on the year and had a career-high 10 tackles against San Diego State. He'll need to be disruptive in the passing game and in run support to help Boise State secure the win.
Nevada Player to Watch: Stefphon Jefferson, RB
The workhorse of the Nevada offense is definitely Jefferson. He's notched 313 carries on the season for 1,564 yards.
Jefferson has 21 touchdowns on the season, a third of which came in Nevada's 69-24 win over Hawaii. He's surpassed 100 rushing yards in eight of Nevada's 11 games, topping 200 yards against Northwestern State.
There has only been one game in which Jefferson hasn't surpassed 100 yards from scrimmage, a 48-31 loss to Air Force. Nevada needs him to produce to pull off the upset against Boise State.
Prediction: Boise State 31, Nevada 20
The Broncos defense will be the key to this game. The Wolf Pack have scored 31 points four times this season, which is their season-low output.
However, they haven't faced a defense as good as Boise State's.
If Jefferson can move the ball on the ground and sophomore quarterback Cody Fajardo can engineer a consistent passing game, they will keep the game competitive.
Nevada has a good opportunity to pull out the home win. The Wolf Pack will have to prove they can move the ball against one of the better defenses in college football to beat Boise State, though.
Darin Pike is a writer for Bleacher Report's Breaking News Team and a Featured Columnist covering the NFL and the Seattle Seahawks.
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