In a meeting of elite non-BCS programs, BYU will travel to the Idaho Shangri-la in Boise, Idaho to face No. 24 Boise State atop the Broncos’ famous blue turf for a primetime Thursday night ESPN matchup.
After seeing bright red all Saturday BYU players will be seeing blue on Thursday night. The matchup comes one week after BYU suffered its first loss after Utah fans twice stormed the field following a pair of botched BYU field goal attempts that would have sent the game into overtime. The loss dropped the Cougars out of the Top 25 polls. Meanwhile, Boise State is looking to build off of an emphatic 39-12 win over Miami (Ohio) that returned the Broncos to the land of the ranked.
After throwing for a career-best 304 yards against Miami (Ohio) Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick will face quite a challenge against BYU’s formidable pass rush.
Boise State may have lost a plethora of offensive firepower to graduation and the NFL but their offensive line has remained impenetrable but has not allowed a sack in two games. BYU quarterback Riley Nelson is a rock star in Provo but the defense leads the Cougars band which ranks fourth in the country in total sacks.
The Broncos defense is led by defensive end Kyle Van Noy, who has registered 4.5 sacks this season. The Bronco’s ground attack which was previously led by Tampa Bay Bucs rookie Doug Martin, is now headed by sixth-year senior D.J. Harper. After averaging half a yard per carry in the Broncos season-opening loss, Harper redeemed himself with a 162-yard performance against Miami(Ohio).
However, the Cougars defense is allowing just 53 rushing yards per game and ninth in total defense with 241 yards per game. Broncos coach Chris Petersen, a noted offensive guru has taken note of BYU’s defense.
“It’s going to be a big challenge, not only for the O-line, it’s going to be for everybody,” coach Chris Petersen said Monday. “They’re the next level on defense, for sure. … (Coach Bronco Mendenhall) has got them playing as hard as they’ve ever played. That’s one thing that always jumps out whenever you watch BYU. That’s his baby. He’s a defensive guy.”
If Harper is unable to gain yards against BYU’s front seven, the Broncos offense will have to replicate Utah’s formula and count on Southwick to dissect the Cougars suspect secondary.
On the other side of the ball, Boise State’s defense is a unit in seek of redemption after allowing 210 yards against Michigan State in the season opener. However, they’ll be facing an offensive line that seemingly couldn’t protect Artic ice from melting.
In contrast to Boise State’s line, Nelson was sacked four times last week and the running game gained just 2.5 yards per carry. For the BUY offense to gain any rhythm the offensive line will have to give Nelson enough time in the pocket to look for receiver Cody Hoffman. Hoffman has totaled 281 yards, 18 receptions and two touchdowns thus far this season. Going back to 2010, Hoffman has recorded a catch in 22 straight games.
Both teams also have history in their favor. Under head coach Bronco Mendenhall, the Broncos are 3-1 in Thursday night games but the Broncos haven’t lost a September home game since 2001 and have won 19 straight games against teams from Utah.
Key Players To Watch:
(BYU): QB; Riley Nelson, WR; Cody Hoffman, DE; Kyle Van Noy, LB; Brandon Ogletree,
(Boise State): QB; Joe Southwick, RB; DJ. Harper, WR; Matt Miller
TV Coverage: 9 p.m. ET, ESPN 2
Live Stream: BYU at Boise State