Boise State and Oregon State have faced off six times previously since the Broncos joined the ranks of the FBS a.k.a. Division 1A in 1996. The series is locked at three wins each. However, the last victory went to Oregon State when they beat up on the Broncos in the Hawaii Bowl 38-23 in 2013. That was the season head coach Chris Petersen left for Washington, and the Broncos traveled to Honolulu without him.
Boise State defeated the Beavers the previous two games by a combined score of 79-38. That included the 2006 Fiesta Bowl season when the Broncos thumped them 42-14 on The Blue. Boise State is 9-3 against Pac-12 schools since 2006, and 13-5 against power five competition in that same time period.
The Beavers return seven offensive starters and six defensive starters from last year's struggling squad. However, they do return significant experience with 11 of their top 15 tacklers back on the 2016 roster. They also have a familiar face at quarterback. Junior Darell Garretson, formerly of Utah State (2013-2014).
Garretson was brought in by former Utah State head coach Gary Andersen who left the Aggies for Wisconsin in 2013. Andersen spent two seasons with the Badgers before taking the Oregon State job last season. Hw is very familiar with Boise State, and has several Idaho connections. He played football for Ricks College in 1984 before transferring to Utah, and coached defensive line at Ricks (1989-1991), and Idaho State (1992-1993).
At running back the Beavers have a talented player in sophomore Ryan Nall. He played well against Minnesota before a foot injury limited his progress. He finished that game with 13 carries for 71 yards and a 5.5 yards-per-carry average. He also caught eight passes for 80 additional yards. Even after a bye week he looked hampered a bit against the Bengals last week carrying 13 times for just 39 yards, and one touchdown. He had two catches, but it resulted in negative four yards.
If is healthy he can be a ground threat, but if hampered by injury it could force the Beavers to be one-dimensional. His backup freshman Artavis Pierce has a solid future, but he has yet to show his talent in the first two games of the season being held to just 37 total yards on 11 carries.
Garretson can scramble a bit, but that won't be enough to move the ball on the Broncos. An effective pass game will be needed if Oregon State wants to pull off the victory. Senior wide receiver Victor Bolden Jr is a considerable weapon, and he will challenge a young Boise State secondary. He will also get some help from junior Jordan Villamin who has underperformed this season so far. Garretson is only averaging 200 yards passing per game, and that won't cut it against the Broncos. He will have to step it up Saturday.
An interesting fact for the Beavers is that right now the team's best running back leads the team in catches (Nall 10 receptions), and the team's best receiver leads the team in rushing (Bolden 111 yards). That's probably not a good thing for the Beavers. Nor can it be ideal that Oregon State’s kicker is the leading scorer on the team (16 points).
Still, with all the struggles the Beavers have on offense they certainly have been holding their own on defense. Oregon State allowed just 280 yards of total offense in a game one loss against Minnesota, and 363 total yards in a win against Idaho State. They held the Golden Gophers to just 89 yards rushing, and the Bengals to 136 yards on the ground, albeit most of that total coming from the Bengals lone Touchdown on the first play of the second half. They also forced five turnovers in last week’s win.
The Broncos are hungry. After defeating Washington State 31-28 at home Boise State didn't seem satisfied. It was a game that was controlled by BSU for three full quarters, but will be remembered for the fourth quarter struggles of the offense.
Brett Rypien was picked off three times, but it was the two interceptions late that almost cost Boise State the game. He was focused postgame however, and seemed determined to learn from his mistakes. The bye week was probably the longest week of Rypien's college career, and you can be sure he was using the time to get better, and determine how to dismantle the Oregon State secondary.
Jeremy McNichols is a force to be reckoned with, but he will face a stiff challenge from the Beavers defense. The defensive line for OSU has been impressive in both games this season. They have pressured the quarterback, and shut down the run game. Look for defensive tackle Elu Aydon to be a force on the line against the Broncos. He harassed the Bengals all game long, and it wouldn't be surprising to see him have some success Saturday.
Junior linebacker Titus Failauga was dominant in the Idaho State game as well. He had two sacks, and hurried the quarterback several times. He flies around the field, and is a play-maker. For the Beavers it will be all about getting to the quarterback, and limiting what the Broncos can do on the ground. They saw the questionable throws Rypien made late against Washington State, and no doubt will try to rattle him. However, those two throws are the exception not the rule for Rypien, and it seems to take a lot to shake his confidence.
The Boise State defense was impressive in its first two games of the season. In game one it was a total shutdown of Louisiana-Lafayette, and in game two it was a smart defensive scheme and excellent open-field tackling that contained a powerful Wazzu offense. The Cougars had just 14 points going into the fourth quarter of that game.
The matchup in this game on paper heavily favors Boise State with their potent offense and swarming defense. But, as every fan knows, that's why they play the game. Beavers head coach Gary Andersen is familiar with Boise State, and his struggling team tasted victory last week for the first time in almost one calendar year.
That boost of confidence, and the fact that the game is in Corvallis should give the Beavers an extra push. However, that extra won't be enough to handle the visiting Broncos.
Boise State has too much on offense, and is better defensively than Oregon State. Unless BSU beats itself with penalties and turnovers, this game should be dominated by the Broncos. You can expect Rypien to rebound from his late game struggles against WSU, and McNichols will lead a powerful ground game that should chew up yardage.
Boise State has an experienced offensive line that sizes up well against the Beavers. It won't be like playing Idaho State, and Rypien has far more targets on the field than did the Bengals or the Golden Gophers.
The Broncos should control the line of scrimmage, and should be able to limit an already struggling OSU offense. Look for a dominating team effort by Bryan Harsin's squad in Reser Stadium on Saturday.
Prediction: Boise State 45, Oregon State 23