Boise State Broncos
Boise State needs to win this game to stay in the national discussion.
This will be the make or break game for the Broncos as they face an improved UGA Bulldogs team.
By dropping Ole Miss and switching to Georgia, the Broncos improved their strength of schedule. Georgia is coming off one of its best recruiting classes in years.
With the addition of freshman phenom running back, Isaiah Crowell, they'll have a very potent running game.
Boise State will not win this game on the offensive side of the ball. Yes, Boise will need to put points on the board, but they'll need to rely on their defense to step up and stuff the run game.
This will not be an easy task for the Broncos, as they give up an average of 20 pounds across the defensive front. The defensive line will need to be able to effectively occupy the Georgia linemen so the linebackers can flow to the ball.
One other important note is that Boise State runs a base 4-2-5 defense; the idea is to provide flexibility by utilizing five defensive backs.
They may need to re-think this strategy if the Bulldogs decide to give them a heavy dose of the run game, thus requiring an eight man front.
If the run game is effective against the Broncos base defense, then expect them to see a lot of play action in the passing game. Aaron Murray is very similar to Kellen Moore in his ability to throw the ball down the field.
Murray, with passing statistics of 24 touchdowns versus eight picks, has a quarterback rating of 154.5. But with the loss of A.J. Green, Murray may not be as successful against a seasoned Bronco secondary that is used to running a man to man defensive scheme.
Boise State is known for their safety blitzes off of the edge and have been very successful in disguising these. Murray will be in for a long day if he doesn't recognize the blitz and get the ball out quickly.
People have made a lot of noise about the Broncos only returning a 12 starters for 2011, six each on both sides of the ball.
Boise State head coach Chris Petersen has ensured that the second unit in 2010 saw a lot of action in order to step up and start in 2011.
This is the way his team has been maintained the level of excellence over the past eight years.
The Bronco offense will flow through the capable hands of Kellen Moore. A proven All-American quarterback and on the preseason Heisman watch, Moore's statistics for the past three years having been nothing short of phenomenal.
Moore has proven the ability to read defenses and avoid sacks. He throws a minimal number of interceptions and appears almost unflappable in the pocket.
With the return of Doug Martin as the starter at running back and backup Matt Kaiserman, the Boise State running game should be in good hands. Martin will likely get most of the carries in this game due to his hard-nosed running style between the tackles.
The Broncos will need to be successful in the running game to loosen up the Georgia secondary and force the Bulldogs into an eight man front.
The offensive line returns three starters. The Broncos need to find replacements at guard and tackle with the loss of their two seniors, Will Lawrence and Matt Slater.
It appears that Joe Kellogg and Brenel Myers will be stepping into their shoes. Both received quality playing time in 2010, which bodes well for the offensive line.
Their play will be critical to the success or failure of the Boise State offense. Their main job will be opening holes in the running game then getting to the second level attacking the UGA linebackers in the Bulldogs' 3-4 defense.
Don't be surprised if the Broncos come out throwing the ball; even though they like to run the ball to setup the passing game, the offense is balanced and can reverse those roles.
Will the Broncos win in Georgia?
With that in mind, we now come to the big question mark in the Boise offense, the receiving corps—how to replace All-American wide receiver Titus Young and equally gifted Austin Pettis?
The Broncos have Tyler Shoemaker ready to step in and play the wide receiver position. Although he played mostly in the slot last year, he was often substituted in as a wideout.
With Shoemaker moving to WR this opens the door for Kellen's little brother Kirby Moore to step in and play the slot.
Geraldo Hiwat will most likely fill out the wide receiver group and at 6'4" should be an effective target against the smaller UGA cornerbacks.
The Bronco receivers will need to be able to get open against UGA's secondary that returns three starters. Kellen Moore is the key here and must be able to find the open receiver against an experienced pass defense.
So do the Broncos have a chance against the Bulldogs? Having never beaten an SEC team; losing to Georgia the last time they played 48-13 in a game that was over by halftime.
My mind says its a toss-up. My gut says, yes, they can win in Georgia.
The Broncos will need to play with that proverbial chip on their shoulder, play an almost perfect game with zero turnovers and force at least a couple of Bulldog miscues.
If ever there was time to step up and show college football fans that they belong in the discussion, this is it.
With a victory here and a run of the table, will this be the year that a mid-major team gets to the BCS Championship Game? Boise State has itself poised for such a run.
Do you believe in miracles Bronco Nation? I do.