Brian Losness, USA Today Sports

Jeremy McNichols Leads Boise State Broncos to 21-10 Win Over the Utah State Aggies

Defense dominated Boise State's opening Mountain West Conference tilt...

BOISE, ID--Jeremy McNichols rang up 226 all-purpose yards as #24 Boise State scored an ugly 21-10 Mountain West Conference win over Utah State last night before 36,602 fans in Albertsons Stadium.

While not pretty or perfect, Bronco head coach Bryan Harsin was pleased with the effort from his team:  “1-0 in conference play. I just told the team I was very proud how they went out there and played tonight. I think that’s a very good football team. After last years game, which I certainly didn’t talk much about this year, I think there were some demons we needed to exercise tonight especially on the offensive side.”

Boise State now has a record of 190-35 since 1999 and is two wins shy of tying Nebraska's modern record for the most victories in an 18-year period.  The Cornhuskers compiled a record of 192-31-1 from 1982-1999 (see chart and conclusion of article.)

McNichols gained 132 yards on the ground and added 94 yards in receiving including hauling in a 61-yard TD reception.  McNichols is ninth in the nation in rushing, averaging 126.0 yards per game.  Wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, who threw the touchdown pass to McNichols on a double-pass, also caught a 36-yard scoring strike from quarterback Brett Rypien.  McNichols passed Jeremy Avery (790 from 2007-10) and Jay Ajayi (771 from 2012-14) for the second-most career receiving yards by a running back at Boise State.  McNichols now has 831 and is behind only Brock Forsey (1,050 from 1999-2002) in that category.

McNichols drew praise from Rypien in the post-game press conference.  "Jeremy, having him on the field is fantastic he’s an unbelievable player, he can do so many different things because he’s strong in a lot of different areas, it was good to have Jeremy and he made a difference."

Boise State (4-0 overall and 1-0) had revenge on their minds after suffering a 52-26 loss at Utah State last season.  But they led by just 7-3 at halftime and only Rypien's two TD passes in the second half and a dazzling defensive performance gave them the victory.

The trickery from Wilson to McNichols was the only touchdown in the opening half and McNichols gained most of his yards in the fourth quarter to keep the ball out of the hands of the Aggie offense.

"It was nice to come out and score obviously the first half coming out strong but we still have to be more consistent in that second half," Rypien said.

Last season, Utah State (2-3, 0-2) relied on eight Bronco turnovers.  This time, an Akilian Butler fumble on a punt return shortly before halftime was Boise State's only miscue that gave the Aggies the ball at the Bronco 25.  The Boise State defense rose to the occasion after that change of possession, forcing a 32-yard field goal attempt from Brock Warren that was wide left on the final play of the half.

The Aggies missed leading rusher Devante Mays, who is out with an injury to his right knee.  Without Mays, USU was unable to mount a sustained ground game and Bronco defenders harassed Aggie quarterback Kent Myers constantly.  Utah State scored on a 28-yard Warren field goal earlier in the second quarter and a TD mass from Myers to Andrew Rodriguez with 7:41 remaining in the game.

The Boise State defense held Utah State below its season average of 26.2 points per game and allowed just one drive of over four plays in the opening half.  The Broncos lead the nation in sacks, increasing their season total to 17 tonight.  Nose tackle David Moa posted multliple sacks for the third straight game, credited with 1.5 in tonight's win.  Moa now has 5.5 in the last three games and ranks fourth individually with 1.38 per game.  Senior defensive end Sam McCaskill also had 1.5 sacks and 2.5 tackles-for-loss for the Broncos.

"I think it’s those second effort plays and coming out hungry every time, every time we get to the third down we see it as a challenge and we want to take down that quarterback," McCaskill said in noting the key to defensive pressure.

“I know my background is offense," Harsin said, "but I’m all about the defense. If you’re going to be a successful football team, you play very good defense.”

Boise State held Utah State to 71 yards rushing, and in four games are allowing opponents 72 yards per game on the ground (fifth best in the nation).

The Bronco offense, meanwhile, converted eight-of-16 third-down opportunities, improving in an area of concern in their win over Oregon State last week.  That improvement wasn't matched by the Boise State punt return game, which netted just two yards on nine Aggie punts.

Boise State punter Sean Wale, however, continued his strong 2016 campaign that has led to Wale being named to the watch list for the William K. Campbell Trophy, an award given annually to the nation's top collegiate punter.  Wale boomed seven punts for 306 yards (43.7 average) that included four punts inside the USU 20 and two inside the Aggie 10.

McNichols now has an even 2,000 career rushing yards and passed Lee Marks (1,889 from 2002-2005) for 13th place on the Bronco all-time list.  Jeremy's Boise State and Mountain West streak of a Boise State and Mountain West record 15 consecutive games with a rushing touchdown, however, came to an end.

McNichols had six receptions for 73 yards and a touchdown while Thomas Sperbeck hauled in five passes for 64 yards and a highlight reel five-yard TD reception in which he soared high above his Aggie receiver to come down with the ball in the end zone.  

Sperbeck passed Bronco legends Ryan Ikebe (2,751 career receiving yards from 1993-96) and the recently departed Don Hutt (2,728 from 1970-73) for fourth place all-time at Boise State.  With 2,770 career yards, Sperbeck trails school record holder Titus Young by 293.  Sperbeck, with 162 career receptions, passed Mike Wilson (159 from 1990-93) and is now tied with Ryan Ikebe (1993-96) for seventh.

Rypien finished 15-24 for 163 yards and two touchdowns and passed Mike Virden (1989-90) for 10th place in career passing yards at Boise State.  The sophomore signal-caller has 4,377 yards in 2015 and the four games this fall.  Rypien, now with 4,296 yards of total offense in his career, passed running back Ian Johnson (4,183 from 2005-2008) for 13th.

Given the pressure Myers was facing, USU head coach Matt Wells began having Myers roll out of the pocket more often in the second half, giving him the opportunity to spot open receivers for big gains.  Myers completed 29-of-50 passes for 287 yards and wound up being the team's leading rusher with 47 yards, including a season-high 45 yard scamper on the opening play of the second half. 

True freshman Rayshad Lewis led Utah State with career bests of seven catches for 82 yards while Rodriguez had six for 89.

"We just need to keep our head up," Lewis said after the game.  "Obviously we were in the game, but little mistakes is what kept us from winning."

Boise State can now check off one task on its quest to avenge four losses last season.  The Broncos will get another opportunity next Saturday in New Mexico, going against a Lobo team that embarrassed Boise State 31-24 on its Blue Turf last year. 

Notes:

Redshirt freshman John Molchon started at right tackle for the Broncos, his first-career start.  Senior Steven Baggett started his 22nd-consecutive game, but the first of his career at center.  Baggett has started 16 games at right guard, five at right tackle and now one at center.

*****************************************************************

Most Wins In 18-Year Period:

(no overlap)

*Modern Record in Bold


1.    Yale 209-11-7 (1888-1905)

2.    Pennsylvania 206-30-6 (1890-1907)

3.    Nebraska 192-31-1 (1982-1999)

4.    Boise State 192-40-0 (1998-2015)

5.    Harvard 188-23-3 (1886-1903)

5.    Florida State 188-34-1 (1987-2004)

7.    Oklahoma 184-52 (1998-2015)

8.    Miami of Florida 183-34-0 (1986-2003)

9.    Florida 183-48-1 (1992-2009)

10.  Princeton 180-19-5 (1888-1905)

11.  Oklahoma 179-31-4 (1971-1988)

12.  Ohio State 178-46-2 (1992-2009)

13.  BYU 176-53-2 (1979-1996)

13.  Virginia Tech 176-55-0 (1994-2011)

15.  Penn State 175-37-1 (1969-1986)

16.  Alabama 174-31-3 (1962-1979)

17.  Virginia Tech 173-60 (1996-2013)

18.  Tennessee 172-48-3 (1987-2004)

18.  Texas 172-57-1 (1995-2012)

2016 Rushing Defense:

1. Houston                 42.0

2. Air Force                 53.0

3. Alabama                  68.4

4. Pittsburgh                69.8

5. Boise State              72.0

6. Ga. Southern           77.8

7. Boston College        78.0

8. Kansas St.               85.3

9. Army West Point      87.5

10. Wisconsin              90.4

11. Florida                    90.6

12. Ohio St.                  97.5

13. North Carolina St.  99.0

14. San Diego St.        99.3

15. Western Kentucky                 102.0

16. Michigan St.          105.5

17. Western Michigan 106.6

18. Arizona St.            107.4

19. LSU                      108.2

20. Mississippi St.      110.8

Career Receiving Yards

1.    Titus Young (3,063) 2007-2010

2.    Matt Miller (3,049) 2011-2014
3.    Austin Pettis (2,838) 2007-2010

4.    Thomas Sperbeck (2,770) 2013-current

5.    Ryan Ikebe (2,751) 1993-1996

6.    Don Hutt (2,728) 1970-1973

7.    Lou Fanucchi (2,554) 1999-2002

8.    Terry Hutt (2,354) 1973-1974/1976-1977

8.    Mike Holton (2,354) 1972/1974-1976

10.  Mike Wilson (2,300) 1990-1993

11.  Jay Swillie (2,161) 1999-2002

12.  Eric Andrade (2,097) 1983-1984/1986-1987

13.  Jeb Putzier (2,050) 1998-2001

14.  Tyler Shoemaker (2,031) 2008-2011

15.  Al Marshall (2,007) 1969-1972

16.  Jeremy Childs (1,999) 2006-2008

17.  Kim Metcalf (1,990) 1980-1984

18.  Winky White (1,977) 1987-1990

19.  Kipp Bedard (1,971) 1979-1981

20.  Shane Williams-Rhodes (1,953) 2012-2015

 

Career Receptions

1. Matt Miller (234) 2011-2014

2. Shane Williams-Rhodes (232) 2012-2015

3. Austin Pettis (228) 2007-2010

4. Titus Young (204) 2007-2010

5. Don Hutt (189) 1970-1973

6. Jeremy Childs (168) 2006-2008

7. Ryan Ikebe (162) 1993-1996

7. Thomas Sperbeck (162) 2013-current

9. Mike Wilson (159) 1990-1993

10.Jay Swillie (140) 1999-2002

10.Eric Andrade (140) 1983-1984/1986-1987

12. Mike Holton (139) 1972/1974-1976

13.  Terry Hutt (132) 1973-1974/1976-1977

14.  Lou Fanucchi (131) 1999-2002

15.  Jeb Putzier (128) 1998-2001

16.  Kim Metcalf (126) 1980-1984

17.  Kipp Bedard (122) 1979-1981

17.  Tyler Shoemaker (122) 2008-2011

19.  Rodney Smith (117) 1997-1998

19.  Sheldon Forehand (117) 1989-1992

Career Receiving Yards By a Running Back 

1.    Brock Forsey (1,050) 1999-2002

2.    Jeremy McNichols (831) 2014-current

3.    Jeremy Avery (790) 2007-2010

4.    Jay Ajayi (771) 2012-2014

5.    Doug Martin (715) 2008-2010

Career Passing Yards

  1.  Kellen Moore (14,534) 2008-2011)
  2.  Ryan Dinwiddie (9,819) 2000-2003
  3.  Tony Hilde (9,107) 1993-1996
  4.  Bart Hendricks (9,020) 1997-2000
  5.  Jared Zabransky (8,256) 2003-2006
  6.  Grant Hedrick (5,656) 2011-2014)
  7.  Jim McMillan (5,508) 1971-1974
  8.  Joe Southwick (4,784) 2010-2013
  9.  Hazsen Choates (4,524) 1983-86
  10.  Brett Rypien (4,377) 2015-current
  11.  Mike Virden (4,294) 1989-90
  12.  Eric Guthrie (4,204) 1968-71
  13.  Taylor Tharp (3,699) 2004-2007
  14.  Gerald DesPres (3,579) 1981-84
  15.  Joe Aliotti (3,460) 1979-1980

Career Total Offense

1.   Kellen Moore (14,534) 2008-2011

2.   Tony Hilde (10,138) 1993-96

3.   Bart Hendricks (10,039) 1997-00

4.   Ryan Dinwiddie (9,984) 2000-03

5.   Jared Zabransky (9,119) 2003-06

6.   Grant Hedrick (6,647) 2011-2014

7.   Jim McMillan (6,115) 1971-74

8.   Hazsen Choates (5,225) 1983-86

9.   Joe Southwick (4,927) 2010-2013

10. Cedric Minter (4,508) 1977-1980

11. Mike Virden (4,471) 1989-90

12. Eric Guthrie (4,431) 1968-71

13.  Brett Rypien (4,296) 2015-current

14. Ian Johnson (4,183) 2005-2008

15. Brock Forsey (4,070) 1999-2002

16. Joe Aliotti (4,056) 1979-1980

17.  Jay Ajayi (3,812) 2012-2014

18. Taylor Tharp (3,756) 2004-07

19.  Chris Thomas (3,448) 1987-1991

20.  Doug Martin (3,431) 2008-2011

Career Rushing Yards

1.    Cedric Minter (4,475) 1977-1980

2.    Ian Johnson (4,183) 2005-2008

3.    Brock Forsey (4,045) 1999-2002

4.    Jay Ajayi (3,796) 2012-2014

5.    Chris Thomas (3,437) 1987-1991

6.    Doug Martin (3,431) 2008-2011

7.    Rodney Webster (3,034) 1980-1983

8.    Jeremy Avery (2,932) 2007-2010

9.    D.J. Harper (2,779) 2007-2012

10.  David Mikell (2,268) 2000-2003

11.  Jon Francis (2,172) 1984-1985

12.  Terry Zahner (2,052) 1977-1980

13.  Jeremy McNichols (2,000) 2014-current

14.  Lee Marks (1,889) 2002-2005

15.  David Hughes (1,826) 1977-1980


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