...and a little bit about why Boise State WILL NOT win.
You’re probably familiar with the gist of BoiseState’s offensive prowess in the last decade. Throwing the ball all over the field, running north, south, east and west, hook-n-lateral, statue of liberty, etc., etc. Good ‘ol fashioned wide-open WAC football. And there’s no arguing with the results. No team has scored more points (4,292) since 2000. And no team has a higher points-per-game average (41.7) since 2000.
The 2008 Broncos surely have aspirations to soar where their predecessors have. But do they have the talent?
They’ve got the right scheme – at least from the perspective of us Duck fans. Head Coach Chris Petersen earlier this summer told ESPN that BSU was making some changes following back-to-back losses to Hawaii and East Carolina to end the ’07 season. They’re increasing tempo, sometimes going no-huddle, adding some elements of the spread offense and mixing it all together with that "what kind of sneaky crap might they pull next” BoiseState ball.
For a game and a half, it was all clicking.
BoiseState opened the 2008 season by destroying IdahoState 49-7. Lots of typical BSU numbers: 352 yards passing, 230 on the ground. Nine different Broncos carried the ball and eight caught at least one pass. It was 28-0 half way through the second quarter and got uglier from there. More of the same for the first half against Bowling Green, as Boise ran and passed their way to a 20-0 halftime lead.
Then it all came to a halt.
The Broncos fumbled on their first possession of the second half against Bowling Green. They then proceeded to punt on their remaining possessions to close out a 20-7 win. Not exactly the stuff offensive juggernauts are made of.
So who will it be in Autzen Saturday? Bottom-feeder bullies or the team the locked up for a half against Bowling Green? If Boise is going to finally get over the hump after 14 straight road losses against the Pac-10, these are the guys that will have to get it done for four quarters.
Ian Johnson (#41, 6-0, 196 lbs., Sr., CA) gets a full two pages in BSU’s press notes. A pre-season all-american in some publications, Johnson ranks second (behind West Virginia’s Pat White) among active NCAA ball carriers with 3,666 yards. He’s tops for career touchdowns (49) among active players. He's a top candidate to earn the Doak Walker Award this year. Johnson had 87 yards and a score on 14 carries against IdahoState, followed up by 97 yards and two scores on 13 carries against Bowling Green.
When Boise puts the ball in the air, they’ll be looking for Jeremy Childs (#9, 6-0, 196 lbs., Jr., CA). First team all-WAC, Childs hauled in five passes for 79 yards last week against Bowling Green. If Childs is covered, BSU may look for speedy Titus Young (#4, 5-11, 167 lbs., So., CA). Titus leads the Broncos with seven receptions this season, for 142 yards and a touchdown.
The X-factor for BoiseState will be quarterback Kellen Moore (#11, 6-0, 187 lbs., Fr., WA). He’s a redshirt freshman and became the first freshman ever to open a season at QB for BoiseState. Keller was a picture of efficiency in game one versus IdahoState, completing 14 of 19 for 274 yards and two TDs. He was equally efficient last week, completing 18 of 23 for 180 yards without any TD passes, though he did have a short TD run. The good news for Moore – there’s plenty of talent at the skill positions. The bad news – BoiseState is replacing starters at four positions on the offensive line.
Hmmm… Freshman QB, making his first road start, in Autzen, facing a defense which now may need to carry the team following another QB injury. Not exactly a recipe for success. The intensity and sheer noise of Autzen is a far cry from Prosser High - a road stop between Kennewick and Yakima, WA - or a cozy BSU home game against Idaho State. Far more experienced QBs than Kellen Moore have lost it on Rich Brooks Field (Mark Sanchez and Rudy Carpenter come to mind).
Is it really any more difficult than this? Take away Ian Johnson, or at least contain Ian Johnson. Play disciplined and maintain leverage against misdirection and trickery. Play sharp on special teams. Then let the young QB take his best shot against one of the best secondary units in the nation.
Oregon has the defense to pull it off. There is zero reason to be looking past BoiseState with Wazzu on the horizon. The Autzen crazies finally have a decent team to yell against. All the trends point in favor of the Ducks.
Boise State may always be the non-BCS team that could, but historically they've been the been the team that could not on the road against Pac-10 teams.
A few more interesting BoiseState game facts:
● BoiseState had 11 combined blocks of field goals, punts or PATs in 2007.
● Sophomore kicker Kyle Brotzman was a 2007 Groza Award semi-finalist.
● For active players in ’08…Ian Johnson is the leader in NINE rushing and scoring categories.
● Ian Johnson holds the BSU record for TDs in a game – 5 versus OregonState in 2006.
● Jairus Byrd with wear Todd Doxey's No. 29 jersey against Boise State.