Inside Slant: Tulsa at Boise State

Boise State will be one of the last teams to play a home game for the second straight year. The September schedule has been the same both years -- a neutral-site game on the East Coast, a bye week, a road game and a home game. --Through two games, seven different players have made at least six catches and four have caught touchdown passes for the Broncos, who once again are flirting with MNC talk

GAME SNAPSHOT
KICKOFF: Saturday, 8 ET
GAMEDATE: 9/24/11
SITE: Bronco Stadium, Boise, Idaho
SURFACE: Blue FieldTurf
TV: CBS Sports Network
SERIES: Boise State leads 5-0 (last meeting, 2009, Boise State 28-21)
RECORDS: Tulsa 1-2; Boise State 2-0
POLLS: Boise State (No. 4 AP, No. 4 USA Today)
PREDICTION: Boise State 41-14


KEYS TO THE GAME:
-- For Tulsa: Keep the ball away from Boise State's offense. A strong running game will help, as will a defense that can take away the ball from the Broncos. Tulsa has to stay close to give freshman QB Kalen Henderson, the likely starter, a legitimate shot.

-- For Boise State: Take advantage of Tulsa's porous defense. The Golden Hurricane is 112th in total defense in giving up 480.3 yards per game, something Boise State QB Kellen Moore and the Broncos' dynamic passing attack should take advantage of. Moore hurt opponents with the deep ball last year, but has adjusted to short and intermediate throws because that's the strength of his receiving corps.

SCOUTING THE TEAMS:
Tulsa's reputation as an offensive juggernaut springs from passing prowess. Likely playing without starting QB G.J. Kinne, the Golden Hurricane will have to lean more on the running game. Not only will a strong running game help keep the ball from Boise State, but it would also keep undue pressure off freshman QB Kalen Henderson.

The same problem that plagued the Golden Hurricane's defense last year is starting to rear its ugly head again this season. Through three games, Tulsa ranks 116th in pass defense. Last year Tulsa spent most of the season in last in that category. And the Golden Hurricane isn't getting the clutch interceptions it did last year.

Boise State's offensive efficiency isn't quite where the Broncos would like, but they are producing. They rank 15th in the nation at 500 yards per game and sixth with 363 passing yards per game and haven't failed in the red zone yet. Still, they only rank 29th in scoring (37.5 points per game) because of missed opportunities between midfield and the red zone. QB Kellen Moore is fourth in pass efficiency and sixth in total offense.

Toledo defused the Broncos' dominant defensive line with screens and quick throws that didn't allow the linemen to pressure the quarterback. Others likely will copy that approach, particularly since the Rockets were able to move the ball and score a couple touchdowns. CB Jamar Taylor leads Boise State with 13 tackles.

FAST FACTS:
Golden Hurricane: Tulsa is facing its third top 10 team in four weeks, having lost to No. 1 Oklahoma and No. 7 Oklahoma State with a win over unranked Tulane in between. ... The past three games in the series have been decided by fewer than seven points but Tulsa has lost all three.

-- Tulsa's running game had its best day in more than two years against Oklahoma State. The Golden Hurricane churned out 365 rushing yards, the most since it had 439 in the 2009 GMAC Bowl against Ball State. It had been five years since Tulsa had two running backs each gain 100 yards. ... Only two teams have lost more turnovers this season than Tulsa's 11. The Golden Hurricane committed six of those turnovers against Oklahoma State. ... Tulsa has played all but one quarter this season without four of its key starters, including three on defense. CB Lowell Rose (injury), CB John Flanders (academic redshirt), and LB DeAundre Brown (injury) all have missed time, and KR Damaris Johnson has been suspended.

Broncos: Boise State will be one of the last teams to play a home game for the second straight year. The September schedule has been the same both years -- a neutral-site game on the East Coast, a bye week, a road game and a home game.

-- Through two games, seven different players have made at least six catches and four have caught touchdown passes for the Broncos. ... Boise State has scored touchdowns on all of its nine trips inside the opponent's 20-yard line (a 10th red zone possession was simply a kneel down at the end of the Georgia game) and allowed one touchdown on four opponent possessions. The opponent touchdown came with several backups on the field late in the Toledo game. ... QB Kellen Moore has 40 wins as a starter. ... Senior S Cedric Febis is back in the starter's role this week. He didn't start at Toledo because he was working with the second team while his eligibility was reviewed.

PLAYERS TO WATCH:
Golden Hurricane:
QB Kalen Henderson -- It looks like the redshirt freshman will be forced into significant action sooner than he thought thanks to the knee injury to G.J. Kinne. He had three interceptions and only six completions in his first significant action this season.
LB Curnelius Arnick -- Tulsa coach Bill Blankenship said the linebacker is the central point of the Golden Hurricane defense. He had 11 tackles last week and will need another big game against a dangerous Boise State offense.
RB Trey Watts -- The sophomore showed why many around the Tulsa program expect him to be the Golden Hurricane's next 1,000-yard rusher. He had 159 rushing yards and 202 all-purpose yards against Oklahoma State. His emergence will help if Tulsa has to rely on a less-experienced quarterback this season.

Broncos:
RB Doug Martin -- He hasn't put up big numbers in the run game -- he has 127 yards -- but he also has a team-high 147 receiving yards and averages 26 yards per kickoff return.
WR Tyler Shoemaker - He has four of the Broncos' eight touchdown catches, including three last week. He is the favored target in the red zone.
DEs Shea McClellin and Tyrone Crawford -- They are tied for the team lead with 2.5 sacks each. They are also tied for second in overall tackles with 10 each.

INJURY WATCH:
Golden Hurricane:
QB G.J. Kinne
(knee, questionable).

Broncos:
LG Joe Kellogg
(undisclosed, probable),
FB Dan Paul (groin, day-to-day),
FB Chandler Koch (undisclosed, doubtful).




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