1) Who are the Spartans to watch on offense?
San Jose State’s offense often lives and dies on the performance of quarterback Kenny Potter. Potter is a dual-threat quarterback that can make plays with his legs when needed. He’s not the best passer in the pocket, but becomes dynamic in extending plays when the pocket breaks.
SJSU six-foot sophomore Tre Hartley has become Potter’s top receiving option. Senior tight end Billy Freeman was believed to be the Spartans’ top prospect at the skills positions, but he has had an especially quiet season due to an offseason injury and an increased role as a blocker.
2) Who are the Spartans to watch on defense?
San Jose State cornerback Andre Chachere has had a breakout season and has been one of the Spartans’ most reliable defensive backs. He ranks statistically as one of the toughest matchups for receivers in the nation. Chachere leads the team with three interceptions and 11 pass breakups. He played his high school ball about 12 miles away from Boise State’s own breakout corner Tyler Horton.
SJSU linebacker Christian Tago is the focal point of the team’s defense. He missed most of September due to injury and appears to be working his way back to full speed. The Spartans leave a lot to be desired in their front-seven, but Tago is an exceptional player.
3) What is the atmosphere at San Jose State going into this game?
After San Jose State fell to Boise State in last year’s season finale, the Spartans ended the year at 5-7. They were fortunate to get an exception and go bowling, in which they won the Cure Bowl. That set the table for expectation of a winning season and SJSU fell flat with a 1-5 start. They started getting things figured out with wins versus Nevada and UNLV, but those bookended a blowout loss at San Diego State. Now at 3-6, the season looks more optimistic for the Spartans, but their route to .500 unfortunately goes through the blue turf with little expectation. The final weeks of the season could dictate whether SJSU makes a head coaching change.
4) What are the keys to the game for SJSU?
Run defense and ball security - San Jose State’s Achilles’ heel for years has been the run defense and they face one of the best running backs in the nation in Jeremy McNichols. This appears to be a ripe matchup for McNichols to have a big game and for the Broncos to cover the nearly 30-point spread. If the Spartans somehow stuff the run, it changes the outlook on this game. Likewise, if SJSU turns the ball over multiple times, they will be out of it in a hurry. They must have a perfect game when it comes to turnovers and swing plays to have a shot.
5) What’s your prediction for the game?
I believe this matchup plays out similarly to last year’s game in San Jose. McNichols could likely go for about 200 yards and two touchdowns again. San Jose State hung around for three quarters, but ultimately lost by 17. I look for Boise State to find separation earlier on at home, but San Jose State keeps it relatively respectable.
Boise State 42, San Jose State 17