Boise State's Five Strikes: Things We Learned from BSU's Romp versus Toledo
That's the first thought that ran through my head when I discovered along with the rest of the country that it's the Boys from the Blue who top the "projective" BCS rankings. Not No. 1 in both polls, Ohio State. Not the team that Boise methodically dispatched of last season, Oregon.
And certainly not Alabama, who saw their hopes for back-to-back national championships take a serious hit, when they laid a goose-egg in Columbia.
I know their moment in the sun won't last for too much longer.
Once the WAC schedule really kicks in, their victories against Virginia Tech and Oregon State will be long forgotten. Tech, by the way, easily handled Central Michigan this past weekend, and is in the driver's seat of the ACC's Coastal Division.
And the mighty Beavers pulled a minor upset, defeating No. 9 Arizona, and remains one of two undefeated teams (Oregon is the other) in the Pac-10.
For the time being, though, I will gladly celebrate not only Boise's ascension to the top echelon of the BCS rankings, but also their already-forgotten 57-14 thumping of the Toledo Rockets. You know, the team that beat Purdue, who beat Northwestern this past weekend.
And the five things we learned this weekend are...
Strike ONE: Jeremy Avery is Easily The Best No. 3 RB in The Country
And more than capable of being the backup guy on a championship-caliber squad.
Doug Martin has been the bruiser, and D.J. Harper was the speed guy before his season-ending injury. But Avery not only makes up for the speed lost when Harper went down, but also adds some serious shiftiness.
He showed plenty of both during Boise's 43-point victory over Toledo.
His first TD run showed he was more than quick enough to outrun the Rockets' entire defense to the corner. From the sideline, he could have strolled in and picked up six points.
His other two scoring runs showed that he could run between the tackles, something he hadn't been particularly effective at before Harper suffered his injury. Now that he's getting some extended playing time, however, he's showing he's capable of being the same player that rushed for nearly 1,200 yards last year as Boise's featured back.
Mind you, Avery picked up three TDs on only seven carries. In all, he only accounted for 42 yards on the ground.
I know Alabama's Trent Richardson might lay claim to being the best backup running back in all of college football, but Avery is certainly in the running, and has the title of best third-team back in the nation.
Strike TWO: Matt Kaiserman Has Settled Nicely into The Vacated No. 3-RB Role
The sophomore running back from Nampa, Idaho, has notched back-to-back nine-carry games, and has 73 yards and a touchdown to show for his troubles.
Nine carries per game are a tad much to expect on a regular basis for a third-string running back, but Kaiserman has been taking advantage of the Broncos' back-to-back 40-plus point victories. And he has easily established himself as the Broncos' No. 3 back, filling the void left by Jeremy Avery's ascension to No. 2.
Kaiserman had a very impressive 2009 freshman campaign, highlighted by a breakout performance against Hawaii midseason, when he notched 23 carries for 122 yards and a touchdown. Unfortunately, he has yet to see as much success again.
Until these past two weeks, of course.
Coach Pete has such faith in Kaiserman that he has started working the sophomore into the gameplan earlier and earlier, letting him see action as early as the second quarter.
Kaiserman now has 90 rushing yards on the season, and is only 61 away from topping his mark of 150, set last year. Given the fact that the Broncos' next four games feature San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii and Idaho, I'm pretty sure he'll have no problem reaching that number.
Strike THREE: The Broncos Stellar Run-Defense Continues To Dominate
Through five games, the Boise State defense has allowed 73 yards per game on the ground, but anyone who's watched the entirety of each of their five games, and especially their last two, know that much of that yardage was compiled against the Broncos second and third-team defense, long after the game has been out of reach.
The pinnacle of the team's run-stuffing D came against Wyoming, whom the Broncos held to -21 rushing yards, but since then they have allowed 78 yards to Jacquizz Rodgers and the dangerous Oregon State attack, 118 yards against New Mexico State, and 65 this past weekend against the Rockets.
In fact, to date, the only real team to have any success rushing on the Broncos is the one team you would expect, Virginia Tech, and even the Hokies only managed 128 yards, 73 of which came from running QB Tyrod Taylor.
They've been especially great at shutting down the opponent's starting backs. In their first five games they've managed to hold their opponent's starting RB to these totals:
|Ryan Williams||Virginia Tech||21 carries||44 yards|
|Alvester Alexander||Wyoming||7 carries||9 yards|
|Jacquizz Rodgers||Oregon State||18 carries||46 yards|
|Seth Smith||New Mexico State||9 carries||34 yards|
|Adonis Thomas||Toledo||3 carries||6 yards|
And with the Broncos upcoming opponents being Utah State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii and Idaho, the run D shouldn't expect to see much of a challenge until the penultimate game of the season, against run-team extraordinaire, Nevada.
Strike FOUR: There's Nothing Quite Like Boise State's Tee-Dog
Okay, so this one is partly inspired by my wife, whose shouts of "TEE DOG!!" every time the adorable canine in the Boise bandana storms across the field with a nose for the kicking tee.
When watching a Broncos game at Bronco Stadium, the most entertaining subjects are the members of the Boise State offense. Kellen Moore and Co. put on the new "greatest show on turf." Second, is not the opposing team, but rather, the Boise State Tee-Dog.
His acts of athleticism and his sheer speed put most Broncos opponents to shame. If only they could harness the energy and enthusiasm of this mutt.
Might make the games much more competitive, not to mention entertaining.
Strike FIVE: The Broncos Could Achieve Statistical History
This 2010 Bronco squad has been dominant on both offense and defense, and could be headed in the direction of statistical history.
Currently sitting as the fourth highest scoring offense (47.4 points per game) in college football, as well as the 11th best scoring defense (14.8 points per game), they could easily grab the top spot in both categories before the season is done. That hasn't happened in quite some time for any team.
And with the so-called "cupcakes" coming up on Boise's schedule, they should have no problem racking up the points, while shutting down opposing offenses.
Picks for This Week
The Broncos travel to California this week to take on the San Jose State Spartans, who gave the Broncos a real scare a few years ago en route to their first undefeated season and BCS appearance.
Not that it, in any way, reflects how this game will go.
I expect Kellen to explode in a big way. Over 350 yards and at least four scores.
The running game has been getting too much attention and has been hogging all the spotlight.
This weekend will be the game that allows Moore to jump back into the Heisman race for real.
Titus Young and Austin Pettis will each catch a TD, and both will get in the neighborhood of 100+ yards.
And Doug Martin will still get his two scores on the ground.