On paper, tonight's game between Boise State and New Mexico State appears one-sided. Or does it? The weaknesses of this Aggie team may not be exploited by this year's Broncos. Add in the fact that the 2006 Boise State team, far more respected in the nation than this year's Broncos, had to struggle in Las Cruces before finally winning 40-28.
will try to atone for a poor performance two years ago in Las
Cruces, New Mexico when the
Broncos challenge New MexicoState
Aggie Coach Hal Mumme (105-93-1) is in his 17th
year as a head coach.Mumme's team is
still trying to recover from an embarrassing 20-14 loss to Idaho
last week.The Moscow
school had not beaten a major college team in two years until the victory over New
When you play a trap game such as this one, however, you
want to be careful not to take your opponent lightly.The Fiesta Bowl team of 2006 waltzed to an
early lead and then took the lead for granted before finally holding off New
40-28.Current Aggie quarterback Chase Holbrook torched the Bronco secondary for 526 yards in that game, just 20 yards
shy of the school record.Holbrook, who
hit 49 of 65 passes in the battle, connected on 16 straight during one
stretch.The Aggie signal caller broke a
school record by hitting 78.7% of his passes in the loss last week.Holbrook has a chance of breaking no less
than nine NCAA records this season.He
has already thrown for 10,547 yards and 76 touchdowns in his career.
There are plenty of reasons why BoiseState has matchup problems this
year with the Aggies.
allowed 271 rushing yards against Idaho
last week and has been vulnerable all year.Problem is, BoiseState
is not one of the best running teams in the land; in fact they rank all the way
down at 62nd.Bronco fans
would hope the team would do a little better on the ground against the Aggies,
but that's not a given.Their weakness
is also New MexicoState's
One bright spot for the Aggies has been senior free safety
Derrick Richardson, who leads the nation with 81 tackles.In fact, the Aggie secondary is the strength
of the team.The passing game of BoiseState also happens to be
theirs.In four of New
games, the Aggie defense has held its opponent to under 100 yards passing.NMSU is #1 in the nation in pass defense,
allowing just 126.3 yards per game.Alphonso Powell is a rising star in the defensive backfield as well with
48 tackles, four tackles for loss, an interception and three pass
breakups.Linebacker Nick Paden (65
tackles on the season) is also a dangerous coverage man with two interceptions
and a pass breakup.Bronco quarterback
Kellen Moore may want to keep an eye on Paden.
What happens when you have not been able to run and New
the passing game?Well, I guess you
would punt.Oops, another problem there—New
MexicoState is 7th
in the country in punt returns.
According to Mumme, the defense "is playing well, especially
up front."Senior La'Auli Fonoti has
moved to nose guard and has done very well, racking up 32 tackles and two
tackles for loss.
Offensively, New MexicoState is an enigma.They rank sixth in the country with 324.1
passing yards but have a losing record.However,
Chris Williams will challenge the talented Bronco secondary.He has amazing speed and if he gets past
someone, it's touchdown New MexicoState.He will often draw double coverage, opening
up holes elsewhere.Williams aggravated BoiseState's great secondary in 2006
with 13 catches for 191 yards.He is the
all-time school leader in receiving yards (3,048), has 15 100-yard receiving
games and has caught 214 passes for 27 touchdowns.
The main guy to benefit from too much attention focused on
Williams has been A.J. Harris, the career leader in receptions with 237.He also has 15 touchdowns in his four years
at Las Cruces and recorded 81
receptions last season.
The Aggies are now out of the race for the Western Athletic
Conference title and will be hard-pressed to make a postseason bowl game
because of the loss to Idaho.
The Broncos, meanwhile, have the best conference record
since 2002, the best home winning percentage since 2003, are the nation's
winningest program this decade and have the nation's second highest winning
percentage away from home since 2003.BoiseState is 34-5 when
nationally-ranked.The five losses are
to top-five Louisville in the 2004 Liberty Bowl, top-five Georgia to open the
2005 season and the three disappointments of last season—Sugar Bowl-bound
Hawai'i, Washington and East Carolina in the Hawai'i Bowl.
Kickoff for the game is set for Boise
time and will be televised by KTVB.