Can the Broncos buck the college football world? Very few people think Boise State has a chance to win in Eugene this weekend outside of Boise. Sure, Boise State has been here before and fans have been here before, but most of the players haven't.
Oddsmakers have spoken.
They have made Oregon an
overwhelming 10 ½ point favorite over Boise
State in this Saturday's contest in
Eugene. The anemic Boise
State offense that went the entire
second half without scoring a point against an average Bowling
Green team could struggle mightily against one of the
top secondaries in the nation. That
porous Bronco defense that gave up 67 points to Nevada,
39 to Hawai'i and 41 to East
Carolina last year is basically the same unit this year. They have held both opponents to 7 points
this year, but those opponents were a horrible Idaho
State team and Bowling
is likely to match those 14 points on their first two possessions.
Ian Johnson appears to be more like the Johnson from last
year than the one his sophomore season.
Besides his long run against Bowling Green
last week, Johnson did little for the Ducks to be concerned with. Expect Oregon
to blitz early and often to try to confuse freshman quarterback Kellen Moore. They can do this because Johnson does not
appear to be the big threat he was in 2006.
Further, the inexperienced offensive line has not shown any sign of
cohesiveness or consistency. They have
not opened huge holes for the running game and have been prone to
mistakes. Add to this the question about
Titus Young's status for this game and the fact that last year's leading
receiver (Jeremy Childs) has just one game under his belt this season and you
have the potential for a complete shutdown of the Bronco offense by Oregon.
Both Idaho State
and Bowling Green showed at times
that Boise State's
defense can be run on. The difference
between those two teams and Oregon's
special teams have not been near as special as they were in the Dan Hawkins
era. In the past, that has helped make
the difference for the Broncos but that is not true right now.
The difference in coaching experience could not be more
coach Mike Bellotti invented the famous West Coast
offense while Boise State
coach Chris Petersen is just trying to run that offense that Bellotti invented.
So how does Boise State
have a chance?
First of all, the entire Bronco team to a player must
believe they are better than Oregon. If this is not true, you might as well quit
reading this article and write a rather large "L" for Boise
State's game against Oregon. A Bronco win just won't happen. In fact, unless every player traveling to Eugene
thinks the Broncos stack up well against the Ducks, they might as well save the
gas money and stay home. So this
confidence is essential.
Second, it is time for the offensive line to grow up. When they signed on to play for Boise
State, this is what they were
getting themselves into. They are no
longer playing high school football where you can jump offsides or get flagged
for a holding call without it making much difference. A missed block here or there then was no big
deal if you had a talented running back that could easily break the tackle. Those days are gone—this is major big-time
football at its best and one mistake at any time in the game could very well
make the difference in the game. They
must assert themselves using great technique, strength and agility. They must hold their blocks and knock people
down—we haven't seen too much of that to date.
The aforementioned Johnson needs to take this team on his
back. Why could he run wild on Oregon
State and not break 100 against Bowling
his best game in two years, Boise State
will not win, pure and simple. Sure,
there are capable runners in the Bronco backfield, but he's that one that can
break the back of the Ducks' defense.
Johnson needs to find the end zone multiple times and explode for big
gains all day Saturday to give the Broncos a victory.
Moore needs to
make good decisions. He has done that so
far this year but again, it's a huge jump in talent from Idaho
State to Oregon. That is like going from high school directly
to the pros. If the Bronco offensive
line can't open holes for the running game, it will put the game entirely on Moore's
shoulders. He would then have to have a "coming
out party" of major proportions to engineer a win. As said earlier, the Ducks very likely will
blitz because they have great confidence in their talented secondary. Moore
will have to get rid of the ball quickly, especially since the undersized
Bronco line may find blocking out the tenacious Duck defense a tough task.
The Bronco line must be able to get pressure on the Oregon
quarterbacks. Like Moore,
they are new and relatively untested. If
Oregon blitzes Moore
to take advantage of his inexperience, wouldn't it make sense for Boise
State to do the same to the Ducks? They must also stuff the holes to allow the
Bronco linebackers to make stops. The
Bronco linebackers, meanwhile, have been known to play out of position,
creating huge holes for the offense to shoot through. If this happens again Saturday, the Ducks
will exploit each and every one of those opportunities, make no mistake about
it. The linebacking crew must stay at
home and play solid, opportunistic football and create turnovers.
I also believe the Bronco secondary must generate a turnover
or two for Boise State
to win. They can do this through the
bone-jarring hits of Brandyn Thompson and others or, lo and behold, an
interception! Yeah, one of those.
The experts looking at this game see a mismatch. They don't think a Boise
State team that defeated powerhouse
Oklahoma just two years ago has a
chance. That's because most of the
players who achieved that success are nowhere to be found on the Bronco roster;
many have gone on to the National Football League. The vast majority of players on the 2008 Boise
State team had precious little to
do with the win over Oklahoma. In essence, they are unproven while Oregon
is a known quantity. Besides, the
experts say, if the Bronco players were that good, why didn't Oregon
get them? This is the same line that Boise
State has been trying to battle
each year of the 21st century.
In the past, Bronco players have had a rather large chip on their
shoulders and have responded against great teams much more often than not. These players haven't shown that yet;
otherwise they would have blown Bowling Green
right out of Bronco Stadium.
So the chances of a Boise
State win may not be good but hey,
anything can happen in college football.