The latest installment of the “spudding” rivalry between BYU and Boise State is set to take place tomorrow night. The Bros go out on a limb to predict the outcome.
Big Bro: Boise State is the best team BYU will play this season. Better than Utah, better than West Virginia, better than UCLA. Beating the Broncos will be a tall order.
On the offensive side of the ball, Boise State can run and pass at a high level. As B.J. Rains told us on this week’s podcast, this balance allows Boise State to respond to whatever opposing defenses throw at them. They have a top 10 running back in Jeremy McNichols (5.2 yards per carry) and an outstanding quarterback in Brett Rypien (1802 yards, 12 TDs, 3 INTs). Even if BYU’s stout rush defense is up to the task, its poor pass defense is likely to get lit up.
But the scariest thing about Boise State’s offense is their explosiveness–the Broncos have four players with TD plays of over 60 yards. Unfortunately, this happens to be the Cougars’ Achilles’ heel, as BYU struggled to defend the long play against West Virginia and Toledo. Boise State is capable of everything those teams are and more.
To make matters worse, Boise State is underrated defensively, sitting in the top 50 in total defense and rush defense. These stats may be a bit inflated by the Broncos’ weak schedule, but they deserve some credit. If Taysom Hill struggles again, expect Boise State to sell out on the run and give BYU fits.
As much as I hope BYU picks up this huge win on Thursday, I don’t see it happening. Boise State is just too balanced and has too many weapons for the Cougars to contain.
BYU 17, Boise State 31
Little Bro: Every week I have underestimated someone. Often times its been the BYU coaches and their ability to get their guys ready for the opponent. Other times (see last week) it was the opponent who I gravely underestimated. That changes this week.
Boise State is hands down the best team BYU will face the rest of the season, and perhaps the entire season. While the Bronco’s haven’t faced a gauntlet of a schedule like they have in years past, this team is still very good. Jeremy McNichols is the best running back the Cougars will face all year. He’s a versatile guy that catches the ball out of the backfield well, and simply finds the end zone. Limiting his productivity will be vital. That being said, that’s not where BYU is weakest. That comes in the secondary.
I fully expect Boise State to go at BYU’s secondary early and often. The Cougars’ pass defense is sub-100 in the country at passing efficiency allowed. That stinks. So far the scheme for BYU has been a straight up 4-3 that hasn’t gotten pressure on the QB. Without that pressure, the secondary is pretty much left to fend for themselves, which hasn’t proven to yield great results. I hope Ilaisa Tuiaki dials up some more blitzes and better disguises to throw off Brett Rypien in the throwing game. If not, it could be a long day for BYU. Fred Warner will again be relied upon to have a big game, in coverage and also containing the outside.
Last week, we saw the Cougar offense regress a bit against Mississippi State. Either that or MSU was better than we gave them credit. I think BYU will have more success on the ground with Jamaal and Co. than last week. Boise State will likely do what every other team has done and will do: load the box and force Taysom to throw. Taysom needs to be accurate in this game to give BYU a chance. He got lucky last week that he only had 1 interception. Those types of gifts won’t come as frequently against this Boise State team. If BYU is to have any shot at giving Boise State their ninth loss in the last 15 years on the smurf turf, Taysom needs to have a big game in the air. That means 250+, no turnovers and a couple scores. That’s a tall order, lets see if he can deliver.
For BYU, a win would be monumental for the program. Victories over top 15 teams on the road mid-season are hard to come by, especially in Boise. A victory would put BYU in the driver’s seat for a legitimate shot at 10 wins this season, which would be mind boggling given how they started and the schedule. All that said, I’m not entirely sold on BYU’s ability to defend the passing game, and Boise throws the rock pretty well. Unfortunately, I think the Cougars come up short in this one, but makes it respectable.
BYU 24, Boise State 30