San Jose to try and knock off BCS bound Boise

San Jose State, dreaming of a Bowl berth, is set to take on the Broncos who are talented, and motivated to knock the Spartans off their bowl game aspirations. After an exciting day of ESPN TV aspirations, the media hype has settled down and now we are about to embark on one of the biggest games since the glory days. It's the cinderella Spartans versus the BCS hopeful Broncos of Boise State.

LAST WEEK: While San Jose State Spartan fans and other WAC conference members are still wondering if this south bay team is actually bowl bound and for real, it will be witnessed for all to see with the Spartans' next three games versus Boise, Hawaii, and Idaho. And no matter how this season completes, it's been one hell of a turn around for Coach Dick Tomey and his staff. The 31-21 victory over New Mexico State last week enabled San Jose State to became bowl eligible for the first time in six years, and the Spartans also celebrated their first road win in three years! The Spartans have their "Thunder" back, and look to strike again when the Broncos of Boise State visit San Jose this Saturday in a WAC war! LAST WEEK: Boise State took on always tough Fresno State last Wednesday night on ESPN2 and looked every bit the undefeated team as they dominated the game to improve to 9-0 on the season. Ian Johnson ran for 136 yards and 2 TD's against a stout Fresno defense. Boise State's league leading defense held the Bulldogs to just 1 Offensive TD as the Bulldogs got another score on Defense on an INT and on a Kickoff Return.
KEY INJURIES: SJSU escaped out of Las Cruces injury free, and there are currently no major suspensions or disciplinary action by Coach Dick Tomey that will hamper SJSU this week versus Boise State. There are, however, injuries to contend with as the season prolongs. In the defensive secondary, Dwight Lowery has a minor muscle strain, and DT, Freddy McCutcheon, is still nursing back to health a knee injury. Both Lowery and McCutcheon are expected to play versus Boise State this Saturday. KEY INJURIES: * RG Pete Cavender (Achilles-out for season) * LB Mike Altieri (Knee-out for season) * OL Ryan Keating (Broken leg-out for season) * TE Sherm Blaser (Foot-out for season)
WHEN SAN JOSE IS ON OFFENSE: The offense has been fairly consistent the past few weeks, with the passing game by Quarterback, Adam Tafralis, staying relatively acceptable. Tafralis played last week versus New Mexico State, and did not throw an interception. But, he will be tested by the tenacity of the Boise defense this week. TB Yonus Davis is a nice change-of-pace back who can break the long run as well as any WAC back, but he's not a workhorse. He is more of a small of shifty back, and if gets good blocking by the SJSU offensive line, he will pose a problem for Boise State. The key to this game will not only be the Spartan Thunder defensive play, but QB, Adam Tafralis' playing more like he did in the first half of this season with confidence and smart decision making under duress. WHEN BOISE STATE IS ON OFFENSE: Boise State lives and dies with their QB Jared Zabransky. A Hermiston Oregon product, Zabransky is a very gifted natural athlete, who can just as easily beat you with his legs as he can his arm. Not a prototypical drop-back passer, he is at his best when he is moving around in the pocket. Behind Zabransky is Super-Soph Ian Johnson. Johnson was 2nd on the team in rushing last year, despite being the lone non-senior to get more than a handful of rushes, however he has vaulted to the lead in the WAC, and is 3rd overall in the NCAA in rushing with 1317 total yards, averaging over 130 yards per game, and leading the Broncos Top-5 rated NCAA rushing attack. He leads the NCAA's with 20 rushing TD's.
WHEN SAN JOSE IS ON DEFENSE: WHEN SJSU IS ON DEFENSE: LB Damaja Jones will need to have another big game against an offensively powerful Boise State team. He finished with 12 tackles, including a team-high eight solo stops, two tackles for loss, two pass break-ups, an 11-yard sack and a forced fumble versus New Mexico State last week. DT Freddy McCutcheon is still nursing a coming back from an early-season injury, but played his best game of the season with three solo tackles and a sack. Both the offesnive and defensive sides of the ball along with the special teams have had solid games the last 2 weeks. WHEN BOISE STATE IS ON DEFENSE: Boise State has been known as an offensive juggernaut in recent years, but this year if appears that the strength of the team lies on the other side of the ball. With only 2 losses to its 2-deep roster from a year ago, the Broncos have the horses to keep most teams frustrated offensively, however just as important as the returning players may be the new coaching philosophy that has been implemented. While not a new system, the Broncos have openly stated their goal is to become more physical, especially in the defensive backfield.
SAN JOSE STATE CAN WIN IF: SJSU had played Boise State at home in the 2004 campaign when the contest went to triple overtime on ESPN2 in San Jose's "historic" Spartan stadium. SJSU was about to break up the Bronco's winning streak, but Boise was able to block the attempt and walk out thinking to themselves "Wow! We barely got out of here with the W!". SJSU will win the game if they come out early and play a great first half. The Spartans have been known as the cardiac kids this year, as their first half play has been relatively quiet, and their second half dominance on defense has stepped up to win the games to date. SJSU must have four great quarters of play in order to break up Boise's BCS party. BOISE STATE CAN WIN IF: The Broncos can win if the Bronco Offense continues it's consistent play. Jared Zabransky has been stellar, and Ian Johnson has proven that he can run on nearly anybody and handle the load. Once again, the Boise State Offensive and Defensive lines should control the game by dominating the line of scrimmage, but while the trenches should be controlled by the Broncos, SJSU has proven to be tricky and tough at home. If last time we visited San Jose wasn't enough to prove this, this time around the Spartans are vastly improved.. under a proven winner for a Head Coach who has the team believing they can win.
SAN JOSE STATE WILL LOSE IF: If SJSU comes out in the first half and fails to execute offensively, Boise will be far enough ahead that they will be able to win the game defensively alone in the second half. This game must be a replay of the 2005 triple overtime game in which SJSU answered each Boise score with a score of their own. BOISE STATE WILL LOSE IF: The Broncos will lose if they allow SJSU to build momentum. Playing in someone else's backyard is always difficult but Boise State has been very successful on the Road in the WAC. However, one of the places that has proven difficult to win is at SJSU. Last time they played, Boise State allowed SJSU to score on long passes early.
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Anthony Rocca has been covering San Jose State athletics since 1994 and is the publisher and the Editor-in-Chief of SpartanThunder.com (The #1 San Jose State Fan Site). Kevin Hiatt is the founder of BroncoCountry.com and has been running Boise State fan websites for nearly a decade, much to the chagrin of his wife.

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