BTN Predictions: Week 8 vs. Cal State – Fresno

Derek

We are half way through the season and we have certainly seen some ups and downs from this team.  It certainly makes it tough for us to predict.  Last time I did not really predict how the game would go – just that emotion alone would win.  I was right. It was a tough game, going back and forth with lots of scoring, but ultimately emotion won out, and you could tell by the post-game celebration.

Emotion will play a part in this weeks match-up against Fresno State as well. I am sure that losing by one point left a bad taste in the mouths of the players, on top of the fact that Fresno seems to think it is a new era in the rivalry.  Unlike last weeks game however, we are at home on the Blue, and do not have to deal with the opposing team’s emotion of protecting their home field.  I also feel like this is the week that the Broncos finally put together a complete game.  Fresno has had an ugly season up to this point. On Friday night, it will get uglier.  Boise State 56 Fresno 12

Tami

Boise State appears to be on the verge of their first truly complete game of the season. Like, any minute now. (I’ve been calling for this since UConn, so ¯_(ツ)_/¯.) I think the boys in blue will be sufficiently hyped after last season, and in an emotionally and physically good state coming off a bye. The game is in the friendly confines of Bronco Stadium, and Fresno is not a good football team. The Bulldogs are coming off a rather sad loss to UNLV in OT and I’m guessing the crowd and the lights and Boise State’s level of execution will mess with them. Boise’s stout defense should bother QB Brian Burrell into coughing up some turnovers. They also must contain Fresno’s RB Marteze Waller and dangerous WR Josh Harper, but Fresno isn’t exactly Ole Miss and it’s hard to be really concerned. The Broncos offense has been more consistent in the red zone since Air Force, and shouldn’t have an issue putting points on the board against the Dog’s porous D. Of course, it’s just as possible that Fresno plays outta their mind, but even then I think the crowd will help swing momentum Boise’s way when they really need it. BSU wins by a bunch. Broncos 48 – Fresno 10.

Heath

Being at home gives me all the confidence in the world. There is just something special about Boise State when they play Fresno in Boise. And because of that, I don’t see any scenario where Boise State loses their first time ever to Fresno on “The Blue”. Jay Ajayi is positioned to have another massive game, and the Fresno State offense is going to serve up big chances for our defense to make plays. That being said, I am leaning towards a convincing win in the range of 42-20 Boise State.

Noel

I’m not going to lie, I’ve been horrible at this (in case you haven’t noticed. So, I asked the Mrs. for her opinion this week.  We both agree that the Broncos will win this game. I am worried about WR Josh Harper but that’s really all.  Their run game won’t be able to muster anything.  If the Boise State offense gets going, will the Bulldogs be able to stop it with any regularity? FRES-NOPE.  Grant has a decent game and hits 2 deep balls.  SWR will score once.  And Jay gets at least 2 scores.  I say the final will be 42-24.  In case you’re wondering, Mrs. H said 42-31.

Gage

Fresno, Fresno, Fresno… I love you so. Some of the most prolific — high-scoring — nail-biting — gut-wrenching  games have taken place between these two teams. One being last year. Which unfortunately reminds me Fresno squeaked out a 41-40 victory. I happen to break my phone that night… coincidence….?

This year should be a different story. Derek Carr gone – Fresno’s potency gone with. Their defense is dismal at best … giving up 50+ points in four of their seven games so far. YIKES. Somewhat like the Broncos … Fresno’s offense is struggling to achieve consistency. Already mentioned by everyone above, Fresno has one serious threat — Josh Harper. If Cleshawn Page and the rest of the Broncos secondary are able to contain him, the Milk Can shall belong to the Broncos once again. Boise State 49 Fresno 17

 

 

5 Keys – 1 Prediction

tuxpi.com.1413440185

1.) Keep Finding New Targets: No Matt Miller, no problem right? If Boise State can keep up the Nevada trend of getting everybody involved that might be the case. Matt Miller is an exceptional talent, that will be deeply missed. But if Boise State can spread the ball around then this could become addition by subtraction. Hedrick seemed to lock on to Matt early and often and the offense seemed to be built around 3 guys. Now with Miller gone it looks to be forcing BSU to become more diverse and in someways more dangerous. If BSU keeps up the new, more diverse offense, Boise State could give the Fresno defense fits all night long on “The Blue”.

2.) Jay Ajayi Keeps up Home Success: Jay Ajayi is a beast, but he is an absolute freak at home this season. So far in 2 games he has 369 yards and is averaging over 6 yards per carry. If Jay keeps this up, nobody will beat Boise State at home. If Jay even comes close to this kind of production against Fresno State, they should win the game. Fresno’s defense has struggled this season, and they haven given up a tons of yards per carry this season against solid opponents. Mix this with Jay Ajayi at home and Fresno State could be in for another embarrassing trip to Boise.
3:) Defend the Bubble-Screen: If you hated Robert Prince and the bubble-screen passes then you will really enjoy rooting against Fresno State. Just like last season Fresno is going to try and get the ball on the edge and win in space. One of the ways they do this is getting their best player Josh Harper the ball on bubble-screens and letting him work. For Boise State to win this game they will need to continue their success defending and often times blowing this play up. Cleshawn Page against Ole Miss and before he got injured showed he can be a monster on this particular play. If he can show that again against Fresno it could lead to some big hits and turnovers. More importantly if Boise State as a whole can defend this play, they will win the game.

4.) Remember Last Season: No sport is more emotional in my opinion than football. Boise State does not like Fresno, Fresno does not like Boise State. Add to that mix a little revenge and then sprinkle in some blue turf and Boise State has a recipe for a beat down. Many of the guys on this team now know what it felt like last season to lose to Fresno on national TV. They need to use this emotion and payback factor to teach Fresno who owns this rivalry.

5.) No Big Plays: When you look Fresno the biggest stat that stands out to me is their lack of big-plays. Specifically when you look at their first 3 beat downs they were averaging around 4.5 yards per PASS.  Once again, Jay Ajayi at home this year is averaging more per carry than Fresno was in some of their games in the passing game. With this, Boise State can’t allow Fresno to get any confidence with any big plays down the field. If they can keep Fresno in front of them all game long, I fully expect Fresno to struggle to score points.

1 Prediction: My prediction for this game is that a new star will rise for Boise State. Who that is, I am not sure. Right now though,  I would put my money on McNichols if he gets the chances. Few players have looked as good as McNichols did in his first game against Nevada. If he gets touches against Fresno I expect that trend to continue. If it is not him however, somebody else will step up big not named Rhodes or Ajayi.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Attack the Opponent: Fresno State Bulldogs

bosu-13-fb-timeline-fb-team-entrance

Fresno State and the Broncos have baggage and history. The series between the two teams started in 1977, with a 42-7 loss at Bulldog Stadium for Boise State. It took 2 more meetings and another 24 years for Boise to finally get a win against Fresno, and boy was it a glorious one. After eating losses in 1984 and again in 1996 (Harsin and Yate’s freshman season, incidentally), Boise State waltzed into Fresno with a 3-3 record and took down the mighty Dawgs, who had a #10 ranking after beating Oregon State and Wisconsin earlier in the season. (Guess who was around for that one? Only Coaches Sanford, Riddle, Huff, Avalos, and Pitman.) Since 2001, the series is 11-2, with Fresno stealing wins in 2005, and 2013.

The victory in Fresno in the 2001 season is definitely in the top 3 of best Bronco wins. It kicked off the modern era of beating the crap out of everybody.

The rivalry with FSU, while having a silly trophy that is a chromed out milk jug as the prize, commands respect from the conference and the fan bases. Sure, it’s 11-5 all time with Boise State firmly in control, but Fresno winning is happening more and more often. Fresno is now winning a game every 8 years, and well, that’s just far too close for comfort. Just because the match-up garners a healthy level of respect by both sides, doesn’t mean that the hate isn’t there. Boise State ruined what was a magical season for Fresno in 2001. Fresno kicked a team that was down with a terminally ill coach in their first season of 1A football in 1996. Both sets of coaches do a good job of staying classy, but the game can get chippy quite quickly. Fresno fans HATE losing to Boise just as much as Boise fans hate losing to Fresno, and both fan bases are vocal about it. Both teams are blue-collar, hard-working groups of guys who are known for killing giants and winning games they have no business competing in. Both teams are also currently in rebuilding phases.

Losing quarterback Derek Carr was painful for the Bulldogs. The 2014 team is an almost respectable 3-4, coming off a rather pathetic loss to UNLV. They are not strong at the quarterback position. If history teaches anything, it’s that once Fresno gets embarrassed, they are not good at bouncing back and getting wins. That’s always been Fresno’s issue, really. They’re tough, sure. But they don’t have that same magical, indescribable quality that has confounded the programs that came up against Boise State. The will to win that separates Boise from nearly every other program in the country and what keeps a lot of fans bleeding blue. Fresno likes to collapse. In 2001, they lost their next game to Hawaii after the fateful night they lost to Boise. In 2002, Boise curb-stomped the Bulldogs 67-21, and they immediately turned around and lost to Hawaii for the second year in a row. In 2006, after beating Boise State, they very nearly lost to New Mexico State. Almost losing to New Mexico State is 99.9999999% as bad as actually losing to them. The more emotion filled the game against Boise is, the worse Fresno does both in their next game and the next time they face Boise.

The Bronco’s coaching staff seems to understand this tendency. Fresno is missing Carr like Boise was missing Kellen Moore last year. They’re off to a rough start this season, and they just lost to UNLV for the first time in thirty years. Who better to come along and rub salt in an open wound than Coach Harsin and Coach Yates and a team who is bitter and probably pissed off at losing to them in 2013? Yes, there’s an overarching theme to the whole “Respect the Past” idea. It’s a brilliant opportunity to educate the team on exactly what each of these games, each of these rivalries means to the program, the university, to the city of Boise itself. That’s why Harsin banned the color red from practice. A move like that drives emotion, and making sure that emotion and intensity are there each week is on the coaches as much as the players. There is urgency to stay sharp after beating Nevada, to always be ready because the Mountain West of 2014 is unpredictable at best.

It feels like Boise State is on the verge of truly putting together a great game on both sides of the ball. It also feels like the coaches have some animosity toward Fresno that needs exorcised. In an old skool, Coach Hawk style beatdown kinda way. The guys put 51 on Nevada last week, but we haven’t seen a good ol’ fashioned 2003 style butt kicking on anybody in a while. Hey Broncos! Let’s see if you guys can put 80 on Fresno, just for funsies. It will make Bronco fans happy because there were a lot of Bulldog people jawing about owning the Broncos now after squeaking past for a win in 2013.

Fresno did not have a good time against UNLV on Saturday, even if it was an OT game. Fresno got down big, early (because whoa, hideous defense allowing UNLV 478 yards) managed to mount a sad little comeback on the Rebs’s terrible defense, only to minicoug it and get #collegekicker-ed into OT by missing a PAT. UNLV then put the game away on a made FG. Since the Mountain West is reflecting in fun house mirrors this season, the Dawgs managed to beat New Mexico and SDSU, but turned around and lost to the 2-5 Rebels.

Sleepy-bulldog-falls-asleepWay to snatch that defeat from the jaws of victory there, boy.

Of course, it’s not like Boise looked much better against Air Force recently…

rollersk8horsefailThe AFA/Boise State game, as acted out by someone trying to roller skate over a brick wall wearing a racehorse costume on bbq wheels.

Look, there isn’t a team in the MWC this season that is highly ranked or even threatening for a playoff spot at this point. This conference is doing well at cannibalizing itself though, and for the first time in a long time, it’s consistently entertaining. Boise State has a nice home stand coming up, with a lineup of conference foes to make any fan drool a little. Fresno kicks us off next week with a game that is meaningful to not only the teams and schools but the fan bases and cities involved. California’s Central Valley is having a rough go of it right now as a whole, while the Treasure Valley grows and fights its own battles. Football is a great distraction from what goes on in the serious world and for a few hours next weekend, we can get together and watch these teams, trash talk each other in good fun, and Fresno can show Reno how to have a rivalry with at least a little mutual respect.

Or, yanno, Boise can just put 90 points on the Dogs and we can make this turn from a nice little mid-major rivalry to a Vandal-style hate inferno with just a little fuel. It’s going to be the Bronco’s choice, because Fresno isn’t going to be able to do a thing about what is going to happen to them this weekend.

ponymoonwalkshore

Makin’ this look good since 2001.

This Week at the Diggity’s – Bye Week Edition (Relax, Recover, Refocus)

So it’s Bye Week at the Diggity’s.  This is a good thing for two reasons: I was so stressed out that I broke into tears after the Nevada game and my daughter’s birthday is this weekend.  I won’t miss a thing.  I guess I’m making Chicken Kiev for dinner tonight.  Now, onto the fun!

Watching Tennessee play Florida was almost as bad as watching an Idaho scrimmage. Will Muschamp did say that he loved disappointing the Volunteers’ crowd so that was awesome….Waiting all day to watch a Boise State game is such a horrible way to spend the day. Especially when it’s a rivalry game coming off a crappy game….So this weekend, Oregon, Alabama, Oklahoma, Texas A&M, Stanford, UCLA, LSU, USC, Wisconsin, BYU, and Nebraska have lost. That’s numbers 2, 3, 4, 6, 8, 14, 15, 16, 17, 18, & 19, respectively. I like the uncertainty of this season….Loving the offense at the start of the game.  Need to fix kicking and defense….This game has gone from ridiculous to ludicrous. Grant and Jay are playing out of their minds. Our defense has 4 picks. We can’t make the Wolfpack go away. My heart is horribly weak….That game took a lot out of me. I literally had tears in my eyes at the end. The bye week is here. We, team and fan base, need it….

Already hearing about the classy Nevada fans. Spitting on our cheerleaders and apparently pulling knives on people. Stay classy, Re-NOPE. Biggest Little Craphole in the West….So SyFy now has a zombie show called “Z Nation”. DJ Qualls is in it. It can’t be good. Judging by the previews, I’m gonna have to say NOPE….Usher, oh and Nelly, is life so bad that you’re now dancing with an animated bee and hawking Cheerios? Should have stayed another season of The Voice, huh?…A blonde, blue-eyed woman with a British accent is TONS better than finding an alternate way to get your truck and horse trailer out of the mud. Good job, Viagra!…Does the world need another movie based on a Nicholas Sparks novel? Even Tyler Perry says “No Please!”….We were watching an episode of “Food Factories” and the owner of a company said “I think I was born with a cannoli in my mouth”. The 12-year old in me laughed….I’m always that guy that has to pull forward at fast forwards. You should have my chicken nuggets ready. I don’t care if you know I’m coming or not. Damn you fried foods!…I annoyed myself. I deleted my list of games that I watched last week. Now you’ll never know.  Just know that I did enjoy 14 hours of football fun!

You had to know this song was coming…

Enjoy the bye week.  I predict we win this weekend (a prediction I can’t fail at. WOOT!). Remember to start hating Fresno as soon as possible.  Go Broncos!

Fresno

BTN Predictions – Week 6: At Nevada

Derek

After the Louisiana game a couple of weeks ago, it appeared that Boise State was starting to put it all together.  The defense continued to dominate, Grant Hedrick had a solid game, and we were seeing signs of the ball being spread around to more than just the “Big Three”.  There were definitely reasons to be optimistic heading into the Air Force game.  I expected a tough, close game – especially considering how the Broncos have fared on the road recently – but was not expecting to be dominated like we were by the Falcons.  Many people used the word “debacle”, and it truly was.  The results of the past two games truly make it hard to predict this one.  Was the Air Force game an anomaly? Was it just some growing pains of a new staff and the players continuing to learn together?  Or was that what this team is – average at best – going to win some and lose some?  If you know me, read my writings, or follow me on Twitter, you know that I am an optimist – to a fault maybe – and that will not change.   I see no reason to think negatively or doubt what myself, others, or this football team are capable of.  I am concerned about going on the road still, however this game typically has more Bronco fans attending than any other road trip.  I also think the Air Force game was a wake up call to both the coaches and the team.  I am not going to go into specifics about what players are key, which sides of the ball have the advantage, or how this game goes.  This game will be an emotional one, both because of who and where we are playing, and what happened last week, so this is a purely emotional pick.  Boise State bounces back, and continues to grow under Harsin and staff.  Boise State 31 – Nevada 21.

Tami

Nevada is a pretty good team. The Wolf Pack’s only loss so far came at the hands of Arizona, the team that beat Oregon at Autzen on Thursday night. Boise is a very talented team who is still trying to find consistency. The performance last week at Air Force makes this game quite hard to predict – I know what I want to see out of the Broncos, but a big run game, some nice deep throws to open up the field for Jay, and a shut-down defense may be more than we can hope for. The X factor is the fact that Nevada is the closest thing we have to a rivalry, and the hate is palpable. Losing to them would be a tremendous blow. So, assuming that Grant has his confidence back, the coaches are on and have everybody ready, and that some of the guys that have been out injured are able to come back (hi there defense), Boise should be able to make this a game. I’m homering it up and calling for a win for the good guys: Boise State 28 – Nevada 24. 

Dan Goodale, please be ready. We’re going to need Dead Center Dan to go to Reno and kick a ball just to watch a man and his middle fingers die.

Noel

I’m on the fence about this one. Last week was a horrid week on the field for Grant Hedrick and, if he paid any attention to the fan base, he didn’t have a good time post-game either.  His mindset is one of the keys to the game.  If his head is on straight, the offense will be sufficient. The other key is the defense. Coach Harsin and CoachYates can take some cues from Arizona’s defense on gap-integrity. and how to contain a “running” quarterback. Fajardo can eat teams up on the ground. Here’s how I see it – Broncos offense performs and the defense destroys the Nevada running game.  Broncos win 35-20 and I lob double-birds at Nevada fan on the TV.

Gage

This game might be a defining point in an already up and down season. As Derek pointed out – after beating the Ragin’ Cajuns – Boise State fans felt like the Broncos might have their mojo back, potentially leading to a chain of W’s. I felt this way myself. Short lived serenity to say the least. Air Force kindly provided a needle to Boise State’s balloon of confidence and the Broncos offense inserted it for them; with not 1.. not 2.. not 3.. but 7 turnovers.

I’ve tossed and turned all week about this game. My stabbing paranoia has me thinking the Broncos will under perform again and Nevada will win – allowing their egotistical fans to boast it in the Broncos face 2010 style. Then, on the other hand, my usual homerism has me thinking the Broncos will storm into Reno with a “F this” mentality – F last week, F the season opener, and F you Nevada. Checks to make sure I’m not a 13-year-old girl. 

I’m so atrocious at predicting final scores or even coming close (check out my previous predictions) therefore I’m going to plead the 5th on guessing this weeks final score and do so because of my superstitious nature. I will predict a close game though. Maybe even OT? Yikes. I don’t know if my heart can handle OT. But… if there are more than three “wtf Grant?” moments, prepare for another sad week in Bronco land.

Heath

I am not sure what to even say here honestly. I look at the Air Force game and then I look at the this game and I get worried. When you watch the turnovers of Hedrick my concern was a lot of throws were just inaccurate. Going into Reno the pressure on him is going to be a lot, can he handle it? I guess we will find out, but I don’t have a great feeling about it. Even with all that though, I have to remind myself I trust Harsin when it comes to the QB position and this can be no different. My other major concern going into Reno is looking at Jay Ajayi’s stat line on the road this year. If you follow me on Twitter you might have seen it, but if not here is what you need to know.

Jay Ajayi at home averages 6.1 yards per carry this season – on the road this season, 3.4.

So for us to win, Jay has to break this bad start to the road this season, and Hedrick has to be a completely different QB. Oh and I can’t forget the defense has to continue to dominate at an incredible level… Yeah, I think you guys know where I am going with this…And that is despite all this, Boise State thrives in positions like this, this is what makes BSU great. Broncos win 34 – 17.