Here are the Sprots Bros’ thoughts and predictions on this week’s match-up between BYU and Boise State.
Little Bro: Even before the earth shattering news that Taysom Hill was done for the year, this game was going to be a tough one to predict. Throw Taysom’s injury into the mix, and it really complicates things.
I wasn’t too thoroughly impressed with Boise State in their opening week match-up with Washington. Yes, I’m aware week one games shouldn’t be banked on as strong evidence of a team’s makeup. But shouldn’t it count for something? Let me ask you this: how often does Boise State score a measly 16 points on the Smurf Turf? It doesn’t happen often. (Coincidentally, the last time they scored 16 or less at home was against BYU in 2012, when they only scored 7). This tells me either a) Boise State’s offense isn’t that good, b) Washington’s defense is stellar, or c) a combination of both.
Boise State returns 17 starters from last year’s Fiesta Bowl team, which is impressive. However, the two key losses are big losses on the offensive side at quarterback and running back. Those losses showed in week one as the offense wasn’t what one is used to seeing out of Boise State. Being a road game against what we hope to be, a hostile crowd at LES, I think Boise State continues to look for its groove offensively early in the season.
As for BYU, their success in this game hinges mightily on their run game. I disagree with Big Bro in the sense that I think BYU really tries to establish the run early on, and often. Tanner Mangum is going to need help to get his confidence up, and the run game will be vital. The offensive line showed amazing ability last week to handle a good Nebraska front seven, only giving up 3 sacks that were more coverage sacks than anything. If the line can figure out how to open up some holes for the running back crew, I like BYU. If not, its going to be a similar game to the 2012 7-6 contest in Boise.
I go back and forth on my line here, but think the early season momentum for BYU carries over into the home opener.
BYU 27, BSU 21
Don’t be fooled by Boise State’s lack-luster performance in their week 1 win against Washington. Sure, the Broncos only put up 16 points on 337 total offensive yards, but I expect a lot of adjustments to be made before they make the trip to Provo.
The first key to watch for is the Boise State running game versus the BYU run-defense. The Broncos’ rushing committee put up 187 yards against the Huskies last week, led by sophomore Jeremy McNichols. The Cougars, on the other hand, allowed a respectable-but-not-desirable 126 rushing yards in Lincoln. I expect the BYU rush-defense to be a bit more stout than they were last week, forcing the Broncos’ young quarterback to step up. Advantage: BYU.
I will also be watching BYU’s running game closely. The Jamaal Williams-less Cougars struggled mightily to run against the Cornhuskers–of their 132 rushing yards, 72 were from Taysom Hill. Boise State gave up 29–that’s right, TWENTY NINE–rushing yards against Washington. That doesn’t bode well for the Cougars. I know that Cougar Nation wants more from the running game, but I don’t expect offensive coordinator Robert Anae to push the issue against he Broncos’ stingy run D. Look for a traditional BYU air attack Saturday.
That brings me to my last key to the game: the battle between young quarterbacks. With a true freshman starting for BYU and a sophomore staring for Boise State, mistakes are bound to rampant on both sides. Whichever QB makes the fewest will likely lead their team to victory. Last Week Boise State’s Ryan Finley went 16/26 for 129 yards, 1 interception and no touchdowns at home, and BYU’s Tanner Mangum we 7/11 for 111 yards, 1 touchdown and no interceptions on the road. My money’s on Tanner Mangum at home.
BYU 28, BSU 27