college football picks Boise State at Wyoming 9-18-10

September 18, 2010


GAME NOTES: With some of the luster having been worn off their season-opening victory against a nationally-ranked opponent, third-ranked Boise State gets back to business this weekend as they make the trip to Laramie to face the Wyoming Cowboys in a non-conference matchup at War Memorial Stadium.

The Broncos, who enjoyed a bye last week, got off to a strong start with a 33-30 victory over then 10th-ranked Virginia Tech at FedEx Field outside of Washington, DC. With the win, Boise State captured eight first-place votes in the subsequent AP Poll, but the glory was short lived. While the Broncos were watching from home, VaTech proceeded to lose against James Madison, at home no less, by a final of 21-16. Not only did the setback drop the Hokies right out of the rankings, it also softened what should have been a solid win for BSU in the opener and, consequently, dropped the Broncos back down to just a single first-place vote in the most recent AP assessment.

As for the Cowboys, football might still be the furthest thing from their minds given the loss of freshman linebacker Ruben Narcisse in an auto accident early last week. Also injured in the single-vehicle accident were cornerback Trey Fox, wide receiver C.J. Morgan and linebacker J.J. Quinlan, but still the football schedule moves forward for the Pokes.

After taking down Southern Utah in the season opener the Cowboys were tasked with facing nationally-ranked Texas on the road in Austin last weekend and the results were somewhat expected as the visitors suffered the 34-7 loss. But as lopsided as the score might have been, it was still slightly better than the 41-10 setback to the Longhorns in the second week of 2009.

The Broncos are a perfect 4-0 over the years against Wyoming, but the Pokes played BSU tough in the most recent meeting a few years back and only lost by a score of 24-14 in 2007.

“It’s great, I think a lot of people were paying attention,” coach Chris Petersen said of Boise State’s prime-time matchup versus Virginia Tech on Labor Day. “It’s great for Boise State University, I think it’s great for Idaho but it really just makes us 1-0 and nothing more than that.”

At the time the win was huge because it was on a national stage against what was supposed to be a very strong VaTech program, but what we’ve learned since is that the Hokies were overrated and thus, the victory lost some of its luster.

But make no mistake, the Broncos have had one of the top offenses in the entire country over the last decade and not much has changed from that for 2010, especially with so many returning starters. Kellen Moore, who converted 23-of-38 passes for 215 yards and three touchdowns, without a single interception in a hostile environment, was named the O’Brien Quarterback of the Week for his efforts versus Tech. Moore, who was a semifinalist for the annual award last season and is on the watch list this time around as well, had the second-best pass efficiency rating (161.65) behind only Tim Tebow in 2009, so he is well aware of what it takes to make this BSU offense operate.

Having Titus Young and Austin Pettis both streaking down the field at any given moment gives the Broncos two of the most aggressive receivers in the nation and when those two aren’t shaking off defenders and breaking tackles BSU can rely on a solid collection of running backs in Doug Martin, D.J. Harper and Jeremy Avery to give Moore a break in the action and shoulder some of the weight that comes with being the top scoring offense in the nation a year ago.

As most people focus on the offense for the Broncos, by all means the defense needs to get its own share of recognition after placing 14th in the country last season and tops in the Western Athletic Conference with just 300.2 ypg allowed and 17.1 ppg permitted as well. If there is one area the unit needs to work on is getting a little more pressure on the opposing quarterback or, more specifically, taking down those signal-callers after placing 72nd in the country in 2009 with less than two sacks per game.

Against a team like Texas that is strong on both sides of the ball, the Cowboys had their hands full and because the squad suffered such a devastating loss just days earlier off the field, perhaps focusing on the task was an afterthought. Quarterback Austyn Carta Samuels managed to find the end zone on an 18-yard run in the second quarter to actually give the visitors a slim 7-6 lead over the Longhorns, but that edge was short-lived because Texas came up with four straight touchdowns to put the game out of reach.

Carta-Samuels, one of the top performers in the Mountain West Conference last year, hit 16-of-24 passes for 160 yards, but he was also sacked three times and that loss of yardage on the ground meant the Pokes were credited with only 58 rushing yards on 30 attempts.

Even though the final score was rather lopsided, the Cowboys couldn’t have been all that disappointed with their efforts on defense, seeing as how they limited one of the top teams in the country to just 389 yards of total offense. Last season, Texas was a team that was 29th nationally with 421.2 ypg gained, so clearly there was a slight moral victory there for Wyoming.

After two games the Cowboys have a defense that, when compared to the rest of the MWC, is in the middle of the pack as far as yardage is concerned. The squad is permitting 179 ypg on the ground and another 207.5 ypg through the air. Having Carta-Samuels on the other side of the ball helps to balance some of that out, but until the squad gets a solid running game going for itself the young signal-caller will be asked to do it all himself. Right now the Pokes are averaging a disappointing 47 ypg rushing, not only last in the conference, but also 118th in the nation this week.

While taking advantage of an opponent that has other things on its mind might not be what the Broncos intend, Moore will have no other choice but to dissect the Wyoming defense this weekend en route to another win over the Cowboys.


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