Utah State (5-5) vs. Boise State (5-5)
Kickoff: Saturday, 5 p.m. MST.
Venue: Maverik Stadium, Logan.
TV: CBS Sports Network.
Radio: Aggie Sports Network.
Series: Boise State has dominated the series with Utah State, 22-5 overall. The Broncos have been nearly unbeatable recently as well, winning 19 of the last 20 meetings vs. the Aggies, and seven consecutive games.
Weather: Mostly cloudy with a slight chance of precipitation, 3 mph winds out of northwest and temperatures in the high-40s at kickoff.
For Utah State: The Aggies are 5-5 (3-3 in Mountain West Conference play) and are riding a two-game winning streak after victories over San Diego State and Nevada. Utah State is now one win away from qualifying for a bowl game for the 11th time in 13 seasons, an unprecedented run in program history.
For Boise State: The Broncos are 5-5 (4-2 MWC) and in danger of their first losing season since the late 1990s. Boise State has an interim head coach in defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson, after head coach Andy Avalos was fired on Sunday.
What to watch for
Can Utah State outscore Boise State?
That is essentially what Saturday’s contest come down to.
BSU is averaging 31.2 points and 439.1 yards of offense per game (243.4 passing, 195.7 rushing), and is allowing 27.4 points and 387.4 yards of offense (271.8 passing, 115.6 rushing).
Utah State, meanwhile, is second in the Mountain West and 20th in the nation in scoring offense at 35.5 points per game. USU is also first in the MW and 22nd in the nation in total offense (448.3 ypg), and third in the MW and 32nd in the nation in passing offense (271.0 ypg).
The Aggies’ boast the No. 1 scoring offense in the conference and are No. 3 in total offense. The Broncos, meanwhile, have the second-best total offense in the MW and the fifth best scoring offense.
The problem for USU, though, is that while the Aggies’ defense rates in the lower half of the conference, Boise State’s defense, despite not being a traditional Broncos defense, rates better overall, particularly against the run at No. 2.
Utah State does benefit from the Broncos having a pretty dismal pass defense (No. 12 in the MW), which should make for a high-scoring game all around.
Boise State will be stronger and faster. The Broncos are simply the more talented team. But the Aggies have proven capable of competing with better teams this season, including James Madison and Fresno State in close home losses.
Can they get over hump against a more talented team this time, however?
Ashton Jeanty, Boise State, running back: The sophomore running back has been Boise State’s best player, even while missing the last two games. Jeanty leads the Broncos in rushing with 921 yards on 157 carries — an average of 5.9 yards per carry and 115.1 yards per game — and has scored 11 touchdowns. With the departure of wide receiver Eric McAlister to the transfer portal, Jeanty also leads Boise State in receiving with 30 receptions for 396 yards — 13.2 yards per catch/49.5 receiving yards per game — with four touchdowns. Simply put, if Jeanty plays, and BJ Rains reported Friday morning that he will, Utah State’s defense will have their toughest task of the season. If he doesn’t, the Aggies’ defense has a chance, albeit slim, to slow down Boise State’s offense.
“We’re gonna have to hope and pray that we can play our best and be in a similar situation this year (compared to 2022) and be good enough to finish it. This is not one of those games where you blow somebody out. This is gonna be a 60-minute battle. Physical. Hit people in the mouth. Get hit in the mouth kind of battle. It’s gonna come down to that moment where we have a chance to win it and are we mature enough, physical enough and can we execute well enough to get it done?” — Utah State coach Blake Anderson.
“We’ve got Utah State this weekend. We’ve got a great group of young men. We are going to prep. We are going to play fast. We are going to do it together. And we are going to finish strong for our seniors. That is my biggest thing talking to them and I know our coaches said the same thing.” — Boise State interim coach Spencer Danielson.
Utah State: at New Mexico on Nov. 24.
Boise State: vs. Air Force on Nov. 24.
Utah State schedule
- Sept. 2 — Iowa 24, Utah State 14.
- Sept. 9 — Utah State 78, Idaho State 28.
- Sept. 16 — Air Force 39, Utah State 21.
- Sept. 23 — James Madison 45, Utah State 38.
- Sept. 30 — Utah State 34, UConn 33.
- Oct. 7 — Utah State 44, Colorado State 24.
- Oct. 13 — Fresno State 37, Utah State 32.
- Oct. 21 — San Jose State 42, Utah State 21.
- Nov. 4 — Utah State 32, San Diego State 24.
- Nov. 11 — Utah State 41, Nevada 24.
- Nov. 18 — vs. Boise State (5 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network).
- Nov. 24 — at New Mexico (1:30 p.m. MST, CBS Sports Network).