Broncos Given Little Chance Against Oregon

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 Green.  Oregon 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 is monumental. 


Boise State'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 glaring.  Oregon 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 Green?  Without 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. 

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