FACTS & STATS: Site: Albertsons Stadium (36,387) — Boise, Idaho.
Television: ESPN. Home Record: FSU 2-1, BSU 2-0. Away Record: FSU 1-3, BSU
2-1. Neutral Record: FSU 0-0, BSU 0-1. Conference Record: FSU 2-1, BSU 2-1.
Series Record: Boise State leads, 11-5.
GAME NOTES: A battle between Mountain West Conference heavyweights is set to
take place on Friday night, as the Boise State Broncos host the Fresno State
Bulldogs at Albertsons Stadium.
The Bulldogs had won three straight after losing the first three games of the
season, looking rather horrible defensively in those setbacks. But the squad
was able to get back on course and take care of business, right up until
traveling to Las Vegas. Against the Rebels, Fresno State had won 10 in a row
and had not lost in three decades, but that all changed when UNLV stepped up
and secured a thrilling 30-27 overtime triumph.
The Broncos are back in action after a week off, attempting to secure a second
straight victory and the fifth in the last six outings. The team has dropped
two decisions thus far, but the one against Ole Miss (35-13) to kick off the
campaign is now looking less painful given the rise of the Rebels to the
No. 3 spot in the AP Top-25 this week. The other setback was a stunner though,
as BSU bowed to Air Force (28-14) late last month.
After being roughed up by the Academy, the Broncos turned the corner in order
to clash with former Western Athletic Conference foe Nevada earlier this
month. The meeting saw a total of 97 points as BSU pulled out the five-point
victory in Reno.
The Broncos lead the all-time series with their former Western Athletic
Conference foes by a count of 11-5, although it was FSU that claimed a narrow
41-40 victory in the 2013 encounter in California when the Bulldogs were
After splitting the first six games of the campaign, the Bulldogs were hoping
to move just slightly above .500 last week, but the Rebels made sure that
would have to wait. Quite honestly, the way FSU looked in the first half on
Friday night, the team should never even have been on contention for a win at
Sam Boyd Stadium.
Nevertheless, quarterback Brian Burrell led the squad all the way back with
three passing scores in a span of less than 15 minutes in the second half. The
Bulldogs actually took a 27-24 lead on a 13-yard TD run by Marteze Waller
midway through the fourth, but allowed the Rebels to tie with a late field
goal and win with a successful boot in overtime.
Burrell finished the meeting 25-of-44 for 310 yards and was intercepted twice.
Josh Harper carried much of the load as he turned 12 catches into 187 yards
and a score, while Chad Olsen visited the end zone twice even though he caught
just four balls. On the ground, it was Waller with 137 of the unit’s 177
Defensively, the Bulldogs dug themselves a hole by allowing three scores on
the first five UNLV possessions. Tyeler Davison led the squad with 14 tackles,
while Donavon Lewis was second with 10, including a pair of sacks. Lewis now
has 3.5 sacks on the season which, sadly enough, is the team high entering the
Perhaps the most disturbing stat for the Bulldogs has the squad ranked 123rd
in the country with a pass efficiency defense rating of 166.66.
Unfortunately, from Burrell’s perspective the offense is also lagging in that
department, showing a rating of 117.11 which has the unit ranked 94th
nationally this week. The quarterback, who is now firmly entrenched as the
starter, has converted 56.9 percent of his passes for 11 TDs over seven games.
There is little doubt in Harper being the most sought out receiver for the
Bulldogs, his 47 catches being 29 more than his closest teammate. However,
while Harper has amassed 637 yards, he has just three TDs, the same number as
Greg Watson who has only 14 receptions in seven games.
Against the Wolf Pack, Boise State leaned heavily on running back Jay Ajayi
who scored three touchdowns and ran for a game-high 152 yards on 27 attempts.
The team overall ended with 224 yards and four TDs on 48 carries, the other TD
being credited to quarterback Grant Hedrick who tallied 40 net yards on 16
Hedrick, who was sacked twice, converted all but five of his 31 pass attempts,
finishing with 346 yards and two scores, as well as an interception for a team
that generated 570 yards of total offense, but at the same time gave up 462
yards to the hosts.
Tyler Gray, who registered one of the four interceptions by the BSU defense,
returned his 32 yards for a score late in the first half. Safety Darian
Thompson snagged two other picks for the Broncos who after six games have
balanced the scales as far as turnovers on concerned.
However, there is still concern with regard to the BSU pass defense, which is
allowing 265.2 ypg to rank 100th in the nation, even with Thompson and Donte
Deayon having combined for seven picks and the team intercepting 12 passes in
Hedrick is now 72.1 percent accurate with his throws, but he still has more
INTs (10) than TDs (seven) and that’s an issue that needs to be corrected.
Ajayi, who at times has shown a penchant for losing possession of the ball,
leads with 709 yards and eight TDs on the ground and is also second with 31
catches for another 280 yards and two scores.
This might be the perfect opportunity for either the Fresno State pass defense
to show signs of life, or perhaps Hedrick to take advantage of a weaker foe on
the other side of the ball. With the Bulldogs moving in the right direction in
the last month for the most part, they seem to be on the hunt for a rare win
on the blue turf.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Fresno State 31, Boise State 20