Utah Or Boise State: Who Deserves to Go?

Tucker BotkinCorrespondent INovember 18, 2008

One word to describe the college football bowl season: Controversial. Sticking with that theme, it is time to decide who deserves the coveted spot in a BCS bowl game.

1. Quarterback

Utes senior quarterback Brian Johnson has shown what he can do late in the game. Impressive late drives at home against TCU and Oregon State, their most notable wins so far, prove that he is a great quarterback and capable of carrying his team late in the game.

Broncos redshirt freshman Kellen Moore has yet to let his team get into the situation where they need a late drive to seal the deal. His most impressive win came in the hostile environment that is Autzen Stadium, where first year quarterbacks go to die.

The Stats: Brian Johnson has completed 211 passes in 317 attempts for 2,333, 20 touchdowns and 9 interceptions. That is 66.6% with an average of 7.36 yards per attempt and a 143.5 quarterback rating.

Kellen Moore has completed 213 passes in 299 attempts for 2,637 yards, 20 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. He has a 71.2% completion percentage and is averaging 8.82 yards per attempt with a quarterback rating of 163.4.

Johnson has the experience but Moore has shown that he is no ordinary freshman.

Edge: Boise State Broncos

2. Rushing Attack

The top two Utes running backs are junior Matt Asiata and Darrell Mack respectively. Asiata has established himself in his junior season. He has shown that he can be one of the nations premier runners. Mack has had to take a significant cut in carries with the emergence of Asiata. He has taken the roll well and gives the Utes another look when running the ball.

The Broncos running backs have taken very similar roles as the Utes. They are led by senior Ian Johnson and sophomore Jeremy Avery. Johnson is known for his patience in the backfield and has also seen his carries drop in such a talented corpse of running backs. Avery is a speed back who explodes through the hole.

The Stats: Asiata and Mack have combined for 1,126 yards on 232 carries and have 13 touchdowns (10 by Asiata). Asiata averages 5.2 yards per carry while Mack averages 4.5.

Johnson and Avery have run for 1,076 yards on 216 carries and have scored 12 touchdowns (9 by Johnson). Johnson averages 4.4 yards per carry while Avery averages 5.7.

Edge: Too close to call.

3. Defense

Both defenses have had good seasons. Utah is 7th in the nation in rushing yards allowed with 94.5 per game. The Broncos are 12th allowing 103.2. The Broncos average 10.3 points per game vs the Utes' 16.6.

The BSU passing defense also holds a very slight edge. Opponents are completing just 52.3 percent of their passes for 182.3 yards against the Broncos while they complete 55 percent for 190.3 yards.

Edge: Too close to call.

4. Special Teams

Utah kicker Louie Sakoda has been more than impressive. He is perfect from anything less than 48 yards out. He is 19 for 21 with a long of 53 yards.

Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman has hardly lived up to his expectations. Coaches called him "Mr. Automatic" at the beginning of the season. He has since gone 10 for 16 with 51 yards.

Edge: Utah Utes


Strength of schedule definitely goes to the Utes with wins in the Big House against Michigan, and at home against TCU and current Pac 10 leader Oregon State. The Broncos' most impressive win came at Autzen against an Oregon team who could take down the Beavers at home.

Coaching favors Boise State with a head coach who has only lost three games and already won a BCS bowl game. Both coaches have shown an uncanny ability to keep their teams focused and not look ahead in the schedule or watch the scoreboard.

Schedule remaining favors the Broncos. Although they have to travel to Reno this Saturday to take on an improved Nevada team, it doesn't compare to the rivalry that faces the Utes when BYU comes to Salt Lake City. The Broncos then finish the season at home against a struggling Fresno State team.

Edge: Boise State Broncos

Bottom Line: Though the teams are pretty comparable, I am picking BYU to upset the Utes in Salt Lake sending Boise State into their second BCS game in three years. The Broncos' past performance and their explosive style of play makes them a smart choice to fill an at-large spot.

The Broncos now just need an invitation the Mountain West Conference so, next year, it can all be settled on the field.