The No. 7 Boise State Broncos bounced back after a disappointing loss last week to TCU and even got a bunch of help this week as four teams ahead of the Broncos lost. So Boise State's BCS hopes are not over, but that doesn't mean the regular season is something to be overlooked.
Check out what needs to happen for a BCS bowl bid for the Broncos here: Crazy Weekend Brings Broncos Back into the BCS Picture.
Meanwhile, Wyoming has quietly become the No. 3 team in the Mountain West, and at 7-3, two of their losses came against currently ranked teams. So Boise State still needs to bring its A-game next Saturday or risk being stunned again, at home, against Wyoming or even New Mexico.
Given the current landscape and the fact that at least one team ahead of the Broncos will lose, the worst thing Boise State can do is let off the gas.
So what did the Broncos do well, and what do they need to improve on to continue their run towards a potential at-large bid?
Take a look at this weeks report card to find out.
Kellen Moore had another great game in spite of what seemed like some passing accuracy issues. It did not matter though, because Boise States receivers did a good job snagging anything that was near them.
Moore was spot on statistically, however, as he continues to outshine Andrew Luck every weekend. This week he completed 28-of-40 passes racking up another game in which he had a completion of at least 70 percent.
Moore also had four touchdowns in the game and connected with 11 different receivers for 366 yards. Though he did have one interception, he's still two behind Andrew Luck and has thrown four more touchdown passes than Luck. Also, I haven't seen Luck drop a 42-yard punt yet this year either, something Kellen Moore has done more than once.
Can we get a little fairness here? Oh wait, I am talking about the ESPN/BCS-controlled, three-shell-game called college football.
Keep it up Kellen.
Doug Martin had it rough for this game. It seemed like he had to fight for every single inch he gained. My only complaint was at times Martin would run on such a powerful downhill plane that he would end up driving himself into the ground.
However, he did very well, racking up 129 yards and two touchdowns. His final touchdown run of 22 yards was a very nice cap to a very tough night for Martin.
On another note, I would like to point out that Doug Martin may be the best pass-blocking running back in college football. He stopped full speed linebackers in their tracks and always was one step ahead of anyone that slipped through the line.
He deserves a shot at the NFL just for that reason. Spectacular blocking Martin.
Another banner day for the Bronco receiving corps as Tyler Shoemaker led the way with three touchdown catches, which ties Austin Pettis for the Boise State touchdown receptions record.
Shoemaker carried the brunt of the work with his 10 catches for 130 yards. Past that, it was receiving by committee as 10 other receivers caught the ball at least once. The other passing touchdown was to Kyle Efaw—the large-handed Bronco tight end.
There were virtually no mistakes, and the receivers turned some less-than-perfect Kellen Moore passes into positive yards. If there has been a consistently solid part of Boise State over the course of the season, it has been the receivers.
Also, much like Doug Martin in the backfield, Matt Miller has proven himself to be very valuable in downfield blocking, and on more than one occasion, it was a Miller block that helped the Broncos get more yards or even a touchdown due to tying up an opposing defender.
The Boise State offensive line looked average in this game, giving Moore enough time to make good passes, however, he spent more time scrambling around than usual and was even sacked a few times.
Against the much smaller San Diego State defense this should not happen. On a few occasions, Kyle Efaw was burned by the Aztec defense leading to a stuffed run or Moore scrambling around, and I know he has more discipline than that.
Perhaps, it's fatigue or injuries, but this Boise State line does not look the same as it did when it played a much more physical Georgia. Poor Doug Martin had to fight for his life every time he hit the line as it seemed like holes were not opening up.
If the Broncos are lucky enough to get a BCS bowl this year, they will need this line to step up and shut down a much more physical and more intelligent defense than they have faced in the past nine games.
The Broncos definitely benefited from the return of Billy Winn to the starting lineup after sitting out with an injury last game. They disrupted the quarterback on a few occasions, got in a sack or two and had some tackles for a loss as well.
That being said, the fact that Aztec QB Ryan Lindley had enough time to rack off a season-high 350 passing yards and the SDSU running game had a bunch of opportunities once again shows this defensive line is worn out.
That was evident in the second half when Boise State allowed most of the Aztec yards and 21 of their 35 points.
The defensive line was pretty good on rush defense, but once again, giving the QB enough time to make accurate passes can't happen when Boise State's secondary is struggling.
This was a better performance than last week but still not the peak of what the Broncos are capable of.
This was a very good performance by the Bronco linebackers. Hout was extremely disruptive on passes, and it seemed like both of the linebackers were having a good time blowing their hair back going after the quarterback.
So much so that Adam Muema caught Boise State off-guard as they overpursued on the blitz, and the Aztec back broke out for an 81-yard touchdown.
Unfortunately, the linebackers spent a lot of time protecting their freshman secondary to keep the Aztecs from doing what TCU did to the Broncos. This limited Boise State in how they ran their defense, so, arguably, the linebackers could have had a much better outing.
If the starters return to the secondary lineup watch for the linebackers to start lighting their opponents up since they can focus more on the backfield.
This was a slightly better performance by the Bronco secondary but only because San Diego State is not as good of a deep passing team as TCU. Twice, I saw the Boise State secondary get burned by double moves, and even with the linebackers and defensive ends getting in the mix, the secondary was sketchy at best.
San Diego State threw for 350 yards, a career high for Ryan Lindley, and connected for three touchdowns through the air. The Broncos are very lucky that San Diego State did not come out with a much stronger air attack given how weak Boise State is in that area.
The injuries are hurting the Broncos at these positions and very well could be the Broncos undoing in whatever bowl they will play in, especially if it's a BCS bowl.
Bryan Douglas and Lee Hightower, the two freshmen that started due to injuries, will be good defensive backs down the road, but right now, their youth is showing.
Boise State’s punt and kickoff coverage teams did a fantastic job this week by capitalizing on some very poor decisions by the Aztecs.
The first on a punt in which Josh Borgman recovered a muffed ball at the SDSU 10-yard line that set up a touchdown for the Broncos.
Then on the ensuing kickoff, Blake Renauld and Lee Hightower forced a fumble that was recovered by the Broncos’ Corey Bell at the Aztec 23-yard-line.
The kicking game had zero problems as well, with Michael Frisina taking over for Goodale and making his first field goal of the season.
Goodale did have one kick that was a little off, but there's no complaint from me since combined, they were 7-for-7 on field goals.
Boise State bounced back nicely after such a heartbreaking loss, and I credit the coaching staff for keeping the Broncos on task. When other teams would have been moping about, believing their season was seemingly over, the Broncos racked up 42 points in the first half against their very next opponent.
However, Boise State’s coaches were aware of how well San Diego State plays in the second half, but that didn’t stop the Aztec’s from outscoring Boise State 21-10 after halftime.
A bit of a slowdown is to be expected when a team jumps out to a lead that large, but Boise State is now in the business of style points, so extra touchdowns need to be eliminated.
There's one positive intangible and one negative intangible for the Broncos in their game against the Aztecs.
On the positive side, Boise State improved by committing less penalties as they only lost 41 yards due to penalties compared to 67 yards last week. Only a slight improvement but an improvement nonetheless. Boise State continues to outperform its opponent on penalty yards, giving them the leg up in field position.
As for the negative, Boise State seems to be turning the ball over more than usual. A fumble and an interception against San Diego State, and two fumbles against TCU, which cost them the game, has brought up some ball-control issues, especially among the running backs.
If Boise State is going to play in a BCS bowl, they need to control the turnover game since they have a weakness in their secondary. The more times the opponent has the ball in their hands, the more times they can throw the deep pass, and that's something Boise State does not want.