The two teams have one common opponent--Utah State lost 31-17 to Washington, while the Broncos beat the Huskies 16-13 with then-starting quarterback Ryan Finley at Albertsons Stadium.
Boise State is the only team in the nation to rank in the Top 10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense and in the Top 20 in total offense and total defense. The Broncos are averaging 40.7 points a game while giving up 12.0--Boise State averages 482.3 yards per game and allow 259.5 yards per game.
The Bronco defense has prided itself on stopping the run, and for good reason. Utah State has won 18 straight games when an Aggie rushed for 100 yards, so stopping the Aggie ground attack is job #1.
Junior Devante Mays picked up a career-high 92 yards last week and scored three touchdowns on just nine carries in Utah State's 56-14 win at Fresno State. Mays has 259 yards on the season (7.4 yards per carry).
Sophomore quarterback Kent Myers is a huge threat to run--Myers rushed for 191 yards in Utah State's win over Colorado State two weeks ago. Myers has pinpoint accuracy throwing the ball, hitting 30-of-46 passes for 397 yards with two touchdowns and no interceptions.
Senior wide receiver Devonte Robinson is 10th in the Mountain West with 50.8 yards per game and leads USU with 16 catches.
(BroncoCountry video by Rod Couch)
Utah State is averaging 26.4 points and 358.8 yards of total offense, so they'll be one of the top offenses the Broncos have faced this season. Boise State defensive coordinator Marcel Yates talked about what he is most concerned about regarding the Aggies.
The game pits two great defenses--we referred to Boise State's standing nationally above. Utah State is allowing just 19.2 points and 297.4 yards of total offense per game.
Utah State is led by senior linebacker Kyler Fackrell, who is tied for third in the nation in fumble recoveries (.40 per game) and 17th nationally in tackles for loss (1.60). On paper, in fact, the matchup between the front seven of Utah State and the Bronco offensive line is a mismatch. The Aggies are 31st in FBS in tackles for loss, while the hapless Bronco line is 107th in allowing tackles for loss.
Fackrell will have plenty of help from linebacker Nick Vigil, back for his junior year. Vigil leads the Mountain West and is ninth in the country with 10.4 tackles per game--a Bronco will need to put a helmet on Vigil every play. Fellow linebacker J.T. Filiaga is 12th in the conference in tackles with 7.4 per game. Nose guard David Moala is another Aggie who can be a menace in the Bronco backfield.
Free safety Jontrell Rocquemore and strong safety Marwin Evans are both hard-hitters who can knock the pigskin loose if the Broncos don't protect it in the secondary--they'll be going for it every chance they get. Rocquemore and Evans rank fifth and sixth, respectively, in the conference in forced fumbles.
(BroncoCountry video by Rod Couch)
Bronco offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz knows that his team will be facing a great defense.
Junior wide receiver @Andrew Rodriguez is 14th in the country in punt returns, and Boise State's Sean Wale will need to keep the ball high and away from him.
An interception thrown by Bronco starting quarterback Brett Rypien halted a pretty impressive streak for Boise State of 14 quarters without a turnover. That streak is the longest by Boise State since becoming a major college football team in 1996. How Rypien plays and leads the Boise State offense this week against a tenacious Aggie defense and a roaring crowd will go a long way towards deciding the victor of tonight's game.
On the other side of the ball, the ability of the Bronco defense to stop the run and continue their own streak of forcing turnovers will be another key. Safety Darian Thompson tied Eric Weddle for the all-time Mountain West interception record with 18. Bronco cornerback Donte Deayon has 17 himself, making Thompson and Deayon the second-most prolific duo of Boise State defensive backs in school history, behind only the 1987-1991 pair of Frank Robinson (22 picks) and Darrin Lyle (15).
Kickoff in Logan is at 7 p.m. Mountain time tonight.