Aggies host Boise State in crucial late-season contest – Cache Valley Daily

LOGAN — Utah State will play its second straight game at home with three major goals in mind. One, to win on senior night. Two, get its sixth win of the season and become bowl eligible. And third, beat Boise State for the first time since 2015 and just the second time in the last quarter century.

Game Details

Kickoff: 5 p.m. Mountain Time

Location: Merlin Olsen Field at Maverik Stadium (Logan, UT)

KVNU Aggie GameDay with Al Lewis: 3:10 – 4:45 p.m.

KVNU Aggie Call with Al Lewis: Immediately after Coach Anderson’s post-game comments

TV Broadcast: CBS Sports Network

Radio Broadcast: KVNU (102.1 FM, 610 AM) in Logan; KVNU (98.3) in Tremonton; KVNU (93.5) in Garden City; KZNS (97.5 FM, 1280 AM) in Salt Lake City; KRPX (102.7 FM) in Green River, Utah; KRPX (100.3 FM) in Moab; KRPX (95.9 FM) in Orangeville; KRPX (95.3 FM) in Price; KVSI (1450 AM/104.5 FM) in Montpelier, Idaho.

Injury Report

  • (LB) Bronson Olevao – Questionable

  • Players Out For Season – (S) Omari Okeke, (LB) Max Alford, (WR) Kyle Van Leeuwen, (P) Stephen Kotsanlee

Statistical Rank Comparison

Utah State Stat Boise State
35.5 (20th) Scoring Offense 31.2 (39th)
448.3 (22nd) Total Offense 439.3 (27th)
271.0 (32nd) Passing Offense 243.4 (53rd)
177.3 (40th) Rushing Offense 195.9 (20th)
32.0 (110th) Scoring Defense 26.8 (71st)
400.3 (93rd) Total Defense 387.4 (77th)
230.3 (71st) Passing Defense 271.8 (123rd)
170.0 (98th) Rushing Defense 115.6 (26th)
19 (112th) Turnovers Lost 17 (98th)
19 (11th) Turnovers Gained 11 (99th)

Biggest game of the year for Utah State

The Aggies know full well what this game means as far as rivalry between the two teams and also the dominance Boise State has shown over Utah State in the last 26 years. Not only do the Broncos own seven straight victories over USU, but the last four have been decided by at least 19 points in Boise State’s favor.

“Boise comes to town, senior night, last home game of the year, trying to fight to get to number six,” Anderson said, “this is a huge game for us. It will really tell us a lot about who we are.”

Losing last year’s game on the road was particularly rough, more so because of how close the game was late in the game. The Aggies had the ball inside the red zone, down 28-23, with a chance to take the lead with less than two minutes on the clock. But an interception from Cooper Legas began a quick burst of scoring from the Broncos who took the game from a five-point game to a 19-point spread in roughly 90 seconds of game time.

“We had an opportunity to win it and we let it get away,” Anderson said. “We squandered some opportunities throughout the game. You can’t do that.”

Broncos coming to town with interim HC

Boise State has been through a lot of turmoil this year with growing resentment to the now-former head coach Andy Avalos. The third-year head coach was fired the day after the Broncos beat New Mexico last Saturday. The team’s defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson, was named interim head coach. He will step into the new role but will also be the play-caller on defense.

How much will this impact the way Boise State plays? Anderson didn’t seem to feel it will change things.

“(We) won’t prepare any differently,” Anderson said. “Both coordinators (are) still intact, that are running both the offense and the defense. Don’t feel like (Avalos’ firing) will affect anything. Those guys will probably prepare the same way. The same guys are going to play .”

Aggies facing top-flight rush offense

Stopping the run has been a struggle for Utah State in quite a few games this season and this week things will hardly be any easier. Boise State has been the most prolific run game in the conference aside from the triple-option Air Force offense. The Broncos rank 16th in the country in yards per rush attempt with their average of 5.1 (slightly ahead of Air Force’s 5.0).

“It’s been their strength. The offensive line, the run game is what sets everything off,” Anderson said. “They’re able to create explosive throws in the back end because you’ve got to add bodies to the box to slow down the run game. I don’t know if anybody’s stopped it consistently.”

A lot of the work being done by running back Ashton Jeanty. The sophomore back, who is making his return to the field this week after missing two weeks due to injury, is the Mountain West’s leader in rushing yards (921) and overall yards from scrimmage (1,317). Were it not for the games missed to injury, he’d be the runaway candidate for the conference’s offensive player of the year (and may just win it anyway).

But even aside from Jeanty’s impact, the Broncos have a highly capable running back room. George Holani, a preseason All-Mountain West selection at running back (who’s early season injuries led to Jeanty’s outbreak) played well in reserve with 174 yards and three touchdowns in the two-game absence by Jeanty. Jambres Dubar, the third-string back, had 91 rushing yards on 15 attempts in the Broncos’ win over New Mexico.

“Jeanty is as advertised, as good as I’ve seen,” Anderson said. “But he’s not it. This week they put two other guys out there (Holani and Dubar) and both of them went out and ran the ball just as effectively and powerfully as we’ve seen Jeanty (do).”

Deceptively good BSU defense

Looking at the stats, one would conclude Boise State’s defense is below average, sitting at 71st in FBS in scoring defense, 77th in yards allowed per game. The Broncos have allowed at least 27 points in six of its 10 games. Success for Boise State has largely depended on winning shootouts.

The major weakness for the Broncos has been its pass defense, ranking in the bottom 10 at 123rd. Four teams have passed for at least 300 yards against Boise State (perhaps a good sign for Utah State is that three of those have come when the Broncos were on the road).

Anderson isn’t going based off stats when scouting Boise State, though, saying “I think they’re much better than their stats indicate.”

“When I watch them I see a physical, very dynamic group of dudes,” Anderson said. “I think stats lie to you a little bit. If you look  at stats they’re a little deceiving at times. I think you look at the people and really look at how sound they are and how physically they play in space, how well they tackle in space. How much problems they present up front. The fact that they’re long and can play man coverage.”

Struggles defending the pass aside, the Broncos have shown a great ability to stop the run, ranking top 30 in run defense. If the Aggies are forced to be one-dimensional, it would tip things in favor of Boise State.

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