San Jose State Challenges Boise State

After two successful road outings, #21 Boise State returns home for a battle with talented San Jose State. It's game number nine for the 7-1 Broncos, kicking off at 1 p.m.

It's the final tour of duty for San Jose State quarterback Adam Tafralis.  Although it seems like the Spartan signal caller has been around forever, this is his fourth and final season at the helm of the San Jose attack.  It was Tafralis who tried to run the ball in on fourth down of the second overtime of the wild Boise State-San Jose State game of 2004, only to be stopped at the three by current San Diego Charger Gabe Franklin.


Tafralis is in the final games of his great career in San Jose.  He's fifth in the league this year with 164-257 passing, a fine 63.8 percent completion rate, and 1,917 yards.  He's thrown for 12 touchdowns but has 10 interceptions. 


San Jose State is averaging 17.1 points a game while the Broncos are right behind Hawai'i in conference play at 41.8 points a contest.  The Broncos' defense had a shot at being one of the best in school history earlier in the year—they've slipped to allowing 22.5 points a game while the Spartans give up 30.2. 


Breaking it down offensively, Boise State passes for 272.8 yards and runs for 215 a game.  Coach Dick Tomey's team can nearly match the Bronco aerial attack at 255 a game but they are last in the league with just 72 rushing yards.  They badly miss Yonus Davis, who was one of the WAC's most talented rushers last year as well as this fall until he went down with an injury.  With the San Jose State rushing threat diminished, Boise State could catch Hawai'i's league-leading sack total of 27 with three sacks today.


These are two of the stingier pass defenses in the league, with the Broncos allowing 197 yards a game and San Jose just fewer than 224.  Boise State gives up 129 rushing yards a game to 179 for the Spartans. 


Senior quarterback Taylor Tharp has been one of the keys in keeping the Bronco offense in high gear in 2007, hitting on 161-248 passes (64.9%) for 2,015 yards and 18 touchdowns.


Tharp had best look over the Spartan secondary carefully for it is loaded with pickpockets.  Junior cornerback Chris Owens has four interceptions this fall, and All-American senior Dwight Lowery and junior Jonathan Harris have three each.


Lowery is a threat on special teams as well, averaging 16.2 yards on punt returns, third in the league.  Boise State's top return man, Marty Tadman, has dropped off this fall but is still averaging 10.8 yards every time he touches the ball. 


Boise State has been blessed by a superb showing by both of their freshman tailbacks, Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper the past two weeks.  It can't get any better for the Bronco running game that will see the return of the WAC's top rusher, Ian Johnson.  IJ is averaging 115 yards a game and has become a dual threat with his receiving ability out of the backfield.  Johnson is also second in the league in all-purpose rushing, despite not playing on either kickoff or punt returns.  With the loss of Davis, San Jose State does not have a rusher in the top ten.


Junior Kevin Jurovich has stepped in nicely to lead the Spartan receiving corps with 52 catches for 696 yards and five scores.  David Richmond has 39 catches for 591 yards and three touchdowns to his credit.  They're both capable of big plays; Jurovich has a 68-yarder to his credit while Richmond and Tafralis connected on a 52-yard play. 


Jeremy Childs is on a record-breaking pace for Coach Chris Petersen's team.  He's fourth in the league with 56 grabs for 761 yards and eight touchdowns. 


Waylon Prather is averaging 39.2 yards a punt for San Jose State.  Freshman Kyle Brotzman has steadily improved, hitting two key field goals of over 40 yards in last week's win over Fresno State.  Brotzman has nailed 11 of 12 field goals (#1 in the WAC) and all 38 extra point attempts.  Jared Strubeck is perfect on PAT's for San Jose State, but is 2-9 on field goal tries.


Matt Castello (85 tackles) leads the Spartan defense that also features senior linebacker Demetrius Jones (73).  Boise State is led by Tadman at safety with 59 and middle linebacker Kyle Gingg with 57.    Mike T. Williams leads the WAC with .71 sacks per game while fellow end Ryan Winterswyk has .44 per game.  Sophomore Carl Ihenacho is the Spartans' top pass rusher with four sacks this season.


There is one thing Boise State will not have in its favor.  Officials rarely call penalties on the Broncos' opponent, whomever it may be on a given day.  Broncos' opponents are averaging just 35 yards of penalties per game, by far the lowest in the WAC and just over half that of San Jose's opponents. 


The Broncos' red-zone defense has left much to be desired as well.  Boise State has allowed scores in 15 of 16 opportunities and ranks last in the conference in that department. 


Should the game come down to a battle of field goals, it would likely favor Boise State.  The Broncos are 11-13, while San Jose State has struggled in making just 2 of 12 attempts.


The past two games between these two teams in San Jose have been nail-biters, while the ones in Boise have seen the Broncos roll to victories.  Will the trend continue?  It looks like a day of sunshine for 30,000-plus Bronco fans today with the kickoff set for 1 this afternoon.



Here are this week's E/A Sports simulations of WAC games.  I simulated each game a minimum of 25 times.  The first numbers are the number of times the first team listed won and the simulations won by the opponent.  Next is the average score of the simulations for each team and finally the highest margin for each team and the lowest margin for each team.  E/A Sports is 53-5 this season in predicting the winners of WAC games.  The games missed were Boise State at Washington, UNLV at Nevada, Nevada at New Mexico State, UTEP at New Mexico State and San Jose State at Utah State.


Boise State hosts San Jose State (98-2)  43.8-11.4, High:  81-7 (Boise State), 27-25 (San Jose State), Low:  21-20 (Boise State), 25-24 (San Jose State), Highest points Boise State scored and lost (24), Highest points San Jose State scored (30).  The Broncos have quite a bit of margin here, but should aim for 31 points to win.




Fresno State hosts Utah State (22-3)  34.3-16.6, High:  52-0 (Fresno State), 42-28 (Utah State), Low:  14-10 and 19-15 (Fresno State), 31-28 (Utah State)

WINNER:  Fresno State



Idaho hosts Louisiana Tech (11-14)  This was another simulation that was too close after 25 times.  Seven simulation wins in a row for Tech gave them the 10-game lead necessary to be reliable.  (11-21)  21.2-34.1, High:  71-39 (Idaho), 59-14 (Tech), Low:  38-37 (Idaho), 22-21 (Tech)

WINNER:  Louisiana Tech





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