It's an eerily similar situation: Oregon State played a tune-up game at home against Portland State while the Broncos traveled to SEC country to play a brutal game in the heat and humidity. Even paralleling reports that OSU players spent the flight home from Baton Rouge last year on IV's with severe exhaustion and dehydration, several of BSU's players including quarterback Jared Zabransky spent the last half of the game on IV's and suffering from exhaustion.
Luckily for Boise State, they didn't face a brutal overtime and have seven days to recuperate instead of six, as the Beavs did. It may not be much, but it should help.
The Boise State - Oregon State series has developed into a solid little rivalry. Players on both sides have commented on the importance of the game in the media, and the fans have been arguing back and forth on message boards ever since the Broncos' hopes of stealing a victory in Corvallis faded away on a controversial fumble ruling on fourth and short to sustain the clock-killing drive by Oregon State that ended the game.
This game will mark the fifth game in the all-time series, which Oregon State leads 3-1. It is also the third game of a four game series contracted between the two Northwest schools. Offensive fireworks have marked the first two games of the current four game series, rolling up 961 yards last year and 943 the previous year, and the two teams figure to light up the scoreboard again in Reser this year.
The Beavers hope to improve upon their running game, which finished a dismal dead-last among NCAA teams for 2004 and racked up just 77 yards rushing on 26 carries last week against 1-AA Portland State, and the offensive line allowed three sacks against the Vikings. Boise State, on the other hand, rushed for 169 yards at 4.8 yards per carry and did not allow a sack.
The Beavers hope that the addition of Jimtavis Walker to the lineup will help to provide some needed production at the tailback position. The junior transfer from the University of Florida sat out all of last year per NCAA transfer rules, and missed the Portland State game on suspension for an off-field incident. The star of the offense is certainly wide receiver Mike Hass, and the receiving corps is certainly the strength of the offense - though Matt Moore would like to present a case for the quarterback being the strength of the offense.
The Broncos, on the other hand, enjoy plenty of production from their stable of running backs but as of this week, are searching for an impact receiver. The star of fall camp, Legedu Naanee was a total non-factor against Georgia, and as a matter of fact was the intended target on THREE of Jared Zabransky's passes. Zabransky will welcome back with open arms Drisan James, who spent the Georgia game serving a one-game suspension and is Boise State's leading returning wide receiver. Zabransky is the star of the offense - the Broncos live and die with Jared and he will need to step up and play like it.
Oregon State will need much better production out of the defensive line after allowing Portland State's Joe Rubin to rush for 113 yards on 28 carries, and failing to produce a single sack. It's obvious that Bill Swancutt has left very large shoes to fill, and the defensive end position is where play needs to be stepped up most.
Boise State will be looking to shore up an utterly porous secondary. Safety Marty Tadman looked totally overmatched physically and cornerback Gerard Alexander looked nothing short of terrible, giving up two long passes for touchdowns early in the contest at Georgia. They will need to step up their play considerably or make some adjustments in scheme to prevent Oregon State from rolling up the yards on Saturday.
Boise State enters Corvallis as the favorite this year, completing the role-reversal from last year, when Oregon State was the clear favorite on the road in Boise. Home field advantage will figure heavily into the match up this year. Both teams have prolific offenses and question marks on the defensive side of the ball. Both teams are anxious to erase a blowout - Boise from last week, Oregon State from last year.
It's a recipe for fireworks - get ready for the scoreboards to light up like the 4th of July.
Chad Luther can be reached at email@example.com.