Boise State Looks To Even The Score With FSU

Memories of a crushing 27-7 defeat at the hands of Fresno State still linger in the minds of the Boise State Broncos. That game was one year ago, but it's as fresh as if it happened last week. (Photo provided by rights reserved.)

Boise State was riding a seven-game winning streak last year with hopes of climbing back into the national top 25 when they were stung by the Bulldogs in Fresno, 27-7.

The Broncos have thought a lot about that game over the past year, and will take an aggressive stance in tonight's game with hopes of avenging that stinging defeat.

Boise State will feature a strong running game that is sixth in the nation, averaging a whopping 226 yards per game. Fresno State is 35th in that category, averaging 139. Neither team explodes for many yards through the air, with Boise State 72nd in the country at 187.5 yards per game and the Bulldogs 87th at 173. In total offense, it's a mismatch with Boise State 18th and Fresno State 68th. Fresno State, however, appears to be much better since the insertion of quarterback Sean Norton—he was 13 of 20 against #14 LSU in his last outing.

It appears that Boise State will finish behind Hawai'i in the national scoring title. The Rainbow Warriors are 5 ½ points per game ahead of third-place Boise State (West Virginia is 2nd), and the Broncos have not shown the explosiveness against either New Mexico State or Idaho that Hawai'i did. The Broncos are averaging 39.75 points per game while Fresno is averaging just over 21 points. The Bulldogs are behind Western Athletic Conference members Hawai'i, Boise State, New Mexico State, Nevada and San Jose State in that department.

The Broncos' strength carries over to defense, at least in rush defense. Boise State is holding on to 9th place in the country, allowing 76 yards per game. However, Fresno State features tough running back Dwayne Wright (17th in the country at 103 yards per game) and will challenge the Broncos there. Fresno State's "D" has fallen to 59th against the run, allowing 131 yards per contest. Boise State's Ian Johnson led the country in rushing earlier in the year; he's fallen a bit to fifth place, now averaging under 150 yards per game.

The game will have the distinction of featuring two of the worst pass defenses in Division I-A. Fresno State is 94th while Boise State is 96th in the nation. San Jose State leads the WAC and Nevada is second.

Overall, the high preseason hopes for a strong pass rush and combative secondary have faded for Boise State and the Bronco defense that was tough early in the season has slipped all the way to 46th. Boise State now allows over 310 yards per opponent and that number is rising with each week. Fresno State's once-proud defense is now 84th, allowing 363 yards per game.

The game will be a good comparison between LSU and Boise State as Fresno State is facing those two nationally-ranked teams back-to-back. LSU struggled against the Bulldogs a bit a home, only carrying a 14-point lead into halftime. Midway through the third quarter, a Clint Stitster field goal narrowed the margin to 17-6. The Tigers did manage to score a couple of meaningless touchdowns late in the game to make the final score of 38-6 look more lopsided than the game actually was.

The game pitting the two WAC archrivals has been sold out for weeks and will be nationally televised on ESPN2 with the kickoff set for 6:06 PM. The game also marks the launch of the "Ian Johnson for Heisman" campaign with free commemorative posters handed out to Bronco fans at the gate.

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