Jared Zabransky and the new-look Boise State Broncos look to play the rude host to Derek Anderson and the Oregon State Beavers.">

Jared Zabransky and the new-look Boise State Broncos look to play the rude host to Derek Anderson and the Oregon State Beavers.">

Rematch on the Blue!

<center><img src="http://img.photobucket.com/albums/v44/Rafter17/e005bd4a.jpg"></center><br><br>Jared Zabransky and the new-look Boise State Broncos look to play the rude host to Derek Anderson and the Oregon State Beavers.

Rematch on the Blue!!!

(Landmark 100th I-A Game for Broncos)

 

 

Friday night…8 p.m….Bronco Stadium. Boise State vs. Oregon State, to be nationally televised by ESPN. It's the game that Boise State faithful have looked forward to since September 20, 2003 when Oregon State converted on a 3rd and 19 play deep in their own territory and eventually ran out the clock, preserving a 26-24 victory for the Beavers. Boise State has run off gaudy numbers, such as leading the nation in scoring three of the last four years, accumulating a 54-11 record since 1999 (3rd in the nation) and a 26-2 mark since 2002. Only Ohio State can match that latter record. The Broncos finished both the 2002 season and last year's campaign in the Top 15 of the national polls.

 

Yet the knock has been that the Broncos cannot win the big one, meaning the games against "BCS teams". Close doesn't count, and unfortunately, the Broncos can only play the "close" card against BCS schools with the lone exception being a victory over Iowa State in the 2002 Humanitarian Bowl. Friday's game will be the 100th Division I-A game since Boise State began playing major college football in 1996. What better way to mark the occasion than to begin to show that they have what it takes to not only compete with the big boys but to win?

 

Are the planets properly aligned to allow such a thing to happen? Many of the national "experts and prognosticators" believe that they are. One thing's for sure: the Broncos have the attention of the Beavers—last year's game made sure of that. Both teams are respected in the national polls (Boise State is 27th and Oregon State 28th in the ESPN Coaches' poll; the Broncos are 30th in the Associated Press poll while OSU is 33rd). Boise State is coming off an impressive 65-7 season-opening win against Idaho, while Oregon State lost a heartbreaking 22-21 decision in overtime at Louisiana State in a game in which they led the Tigers nearly the entire game.

 

QB: At quarterback, it will be Senior Derek Anderson (6-6, 241) for OSU against Boise State's Jared Zabransky. Anderson was the difference-maker last season, passing for 408 yards against the Broncos. He followed that up with a 485-yard performance against USC. For the year, Anderson ranked 9th nationally in total offense with over 302 yards per game and became only the 2nd quarterback in PAC-10 history to throw for over 4,000 yards in a season. He needs 1,957 yards and 6 touchdown passes to break those all-time records at Oregon State—in fact, he will probably hold nearly every record in the Beaver record book when his career is finished. The only backup with more than one attempted pass for Oregon State is Senior Adam Rothenfouh (22-40 in his career).

 

Zabransky (6-1, 225, Jr.) was a sizzling 11-15 (he's now 22-38 in his college career) in his starting debut against Idaho and also scored 3 touchdowns. Senior Michael Sanford (6-4, 215, Sr.) is 14-22 in his career at Boise State.

 

RB: Gone is Stephen Jackson, the famed running back from Oregon State who is now playing on Sundays in the NFL for the St. Louis Rams. Senior Dwight Wright (5-9, 195) will try to fill Jackson's shoes, and he performed ably against a strong LSU defense, totaling 85 yards on 17 carries (5.0 average). Boise State's Lee Marks (5-7, 175, Jr.)had quite a game himself, going over the century mark against Idaho. Marks carries a 6.3 career average into the game with Oregon State, and Jeff Carpenter (5-10, 2210, Jr.) nets 7.6 yards every time he touches the ball. Brad Lau (5-11, 246, So.) gives the Broncos a strong inside running game.

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Bronco Receivers: The Broncos went through the entire game with Idaho with their top two returning receivers, Lawrence Bady (5-10, 189, Sr.--29 catches for 726 yards and 4 touchdowns in 2003) and T.J. Acree (5-10, 178, Sr.--51 for 758 and 7 TD's), having 1 catch between them. Bady missed game one with a bad hamstring and was the Broncos' prime deep threat last season. Chrisean Christopher (6-1, 170, Jr.) stepped in nicely for Bady, catching 3 passes for 81 yards. Drisan James (5-11, 180, So.)is also expected to play a key role for the Broncos. Clearly, given the strong Oregon State defense and an athletic secondary, others will have to step forward Friday night if Boise State is to win. Tight End Derek Schouman has the size and speed to cause damage—look for OSU to pay close attention to him. The sophomore from Eagle grabbed 4 passes for 120 yards in the season opener against Idaho.

 

Beaver Receivers:   Mike Haas (6-1, 209, Jr.), who caught 5 passes for 50 yards against LSU, will be counted on for a big year for the Beavers with the departure of James Newson. Newson, whose size and athleticism caused the Bronco secondary considerable trouble in last year's game (9 receptions for 208 yards), is also now in the NFL. Hass had 44 receptions for 1013 yards (23 yards per catch) as a sophomore last year. Senior George Gillett (6-1, 219) returns at flanker-he caught 5 balls for 29 yards in the opener while Marcel Love (6-1, 188, Jr.) is the slotback for OSU. Tight ends Joe Newton (7 for 71, 1 TD) and Dan Haines (4-25) give Anderson good targets over the middle. Sophomore Newton goes 6-7, 257, while Junior Haines from Lewiston is 6-4, 242.

 

Bronco Line: The Bronco line will be looking to keep the vaunted Beaver defense out of the backfield Friday night; they'll need to in order to allow Zabransky to set up shop and execute the Boise State offense. Juniors Daryn Colledge (6-5, 291) and Jeff Cavender (6-2, 275) are the tackles, M.J. Ansel (6-3, 289, Sr.) and Freshman Tad Miller (6-4, 296) at the guard positions and Klayton Adams (5-10, 293, Sr.) at center. Colledge is a solid player with great technique and determination that has NFL scouts watching closely. The entire group is very close and plays as a cohesive unit.

 

Beaver Line: Senior Doug Nienhuis (6-6, 321) and Sophomore Adam Koets (6-6, 293) anchor the Beaver line at tackle, with Sophomore Josh Linehan (6-4, 284) and Freshman Roy Schuening (6-3,302) at the guards and Center Matt Brock (6-2, 298) snapping the ball. Ninehuis, according to Head Coach Mike Riley, "has set himself up to be one of the better tackles in college football." The hogs up front for Oregon State did a number on the highly-respected LSU defense, totaling 315 yards of total offense.

 

Bronco Defensive Line: This is where the game could be decided. We know how good the Oregon State defense is, but the key could be how the Oregon State offense does against the Boise State defense. Oregon State put up 562 yards of total offense in last year's game and if Beaver quarterback Derek Anderson is allowed the time to sit and choose his receivers at will, it will be a long night for Bronco fans. Charged with the task of getting to know Anderson up close will be a much-improved defensive line featuring Senior Julius Roberts (6-5, 245) and Tim Volk (6-3, 273, So.) at ends and Junior Alex Guerrero (6-1, 273) and Sophomore Andrew Browning (6-0, 272) at the tackles.

 

Bronco Linebackers: This corps of Boise State linebackers is the strength of the defensive unit. Senior Andy Avalos (5-11, 220) gravitates to the football and is a huge force but concentrate on him and Sophomore Korey Hall (6-1,231) will blindside you or Colt Brooks (6-1, 209, So.) will wrap you up. Can this trio match the reputation of the Beaver linebackers? Stay tuned.

 

Bronco Secondary: Gabe Franklin (5-10, 185) has enjoyed a stellar career at Boise State and is looking to cap that off with a memorable senior season at cornerback. The emergence of Gerald Alexander (6-0,192, So.) as a starter gives the Broncos a solid pair to defend against the pass. One of the best tacklers on the team, Chris Carr (5-9,184, Sr.), and hard-hitting Cam Hall (6-0, 209), Jr.) are the safeties.

 

Beaver Defensive Line: The earmark of Oregon State the last several years as been a solid defense and seven starters return to make sure that tradition continues. Last year's unit allowed just 288 yards per game, ranked 7th in the country. The OSU defense was 4th against the run (84.4 yards per game) 6th in passing efficiency defense (98.85 ypg) and 10th in interceptions with 20. They are the best defense to ever come to play Boise State at Bronco Stadium. Up front, it's Senior Bill Swancutt (6-4, 259) leading the way at defensive end. Swancutt, an Honorable Mention All-PAC 10 performer, is already the Beavers' career sacks leader with 25.5 and needs just 15 tackles for loss to take over that category as well. Joe Lemma (6-5, 252, So.) and tackles Sir Henry Anderson (6-3,294, Jr.) and Ben Siegert (6-4, 271, So.), an All-PAC 10 Freshman selection by The Sporting News, join Swancutt on the defensive line.

 

Beaver Linebackers:  Trent Bray (6-1,234) will move into the middle linebacker position with Senior Jonathan Pollard (6-1,234) and Junior Keith Ellison (6-2, 224) flanking him. Bray is the team's leading returning tackler with 76, 13 for loss. According to Coach Riley, Bray "has great instincts for the game and finds a way to get to the ball." Pollard is pegged to be another NFL pick in this year's draft (the Beavers have had 3 in the last 2 years) and was credited with 50 tackles last season. Pollard "has all the physical capabilities to be in that group" (former Beaver linebackers in the pros), Riley said. "He needs to be consistent. He's someone we need to rely on, especially early, for leadership."

 

Beaver Secondary: The secondary is superb for Oregon State. Aric Williams (6-0, 172, Sr.) and Brandon Browner (6-4, 202, So.) are the corners for OSU with Free Safety Mitch Meeuwsen (6-3, 205, Sr.) and Strong Safety Sabby Piscitelli (6-3,217, So.) giving the Beavers amazing height in their secondary. Meeuwsen is one of the best free safeties in college football with 14 career interceptions (one shy of the OSU record) and 52 tackles last year. Browner earned PAC-10 Freshman of the Year honors last season after picking off 6 passes, including 3 against Arizona State. Williams added 12 pass breakups and 4 interceptions. "We ask a lot of our corners," Riley said. "We put them on an island and Aric responded with a great season."

 

The Kicking Game: Should the game come down to kicking, the Broncos seem to have the edge with Lou Groza award candidate Tyler Jones, who made 17 of 23 field goal attempts (long of 52) in 2003 and booted 71 of 72 extra-point tries. Alexis Serna is the new starter for the Beavers. Sam Paulescu will handle the punting for Oregon State and Kyle Stringer is set to go for the Broncos.

 

Coaches: This is Mike Riley's second stint as Head Coach for the Beavers—he returned to Corvallis last year after an NFL career that saw Riley coach the San Diego Chargers for four seasons as well as an assistant coaching position with the New Orleans Saints. This is Riley's 4th season in the collegiate ranks, where he has compiled a record of 16-20. That record is deceiving as his 5-6 mark in 1998 was the best season for Oregon State in 27 years. After recruiting the players to establish the program nationally, he left Oregon State, only to return last season to lead the Beavers to an 8-5 record and a Las Vegas Bowl win.

 

Dan Hawkins took over from Dirk Koetter in 2000 and has quickly built the Broncos into a formidable force, earning respect from the nation's media, his fellow college coaches and the nation's sports fans in the process. Hawkins has become without a doubt the most successful coach in Bronco history, as his 34-6 record and the national rankings attest to.

 

If the 2004 version of this game can match last year's game at Reser Stadium, it will be a doozy. The game has been sold out for weeks with tickets selling on EBay for as much as $130 apiece. Look for the nationally-televised game to set another Bronco Stadium attendance record (this one would have drawn 40,000 or more!) when the two teams take the field Friday. Get there early, revel in the tailgating atmosphere and then get set to watch two great college football teams in action on the Blue!

 

 


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