BTN Predictions: Fiesta Bowl vs. Arizona

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Derek

Here we are.  Game day for the Vizio Fiesta bowl has arrived, and I can not believe we are here.  Before the season began I thought we had a chance at a NY6 bowl.  After the Ole Miss loss I was still optimistic.  Then came the Air Force debacle and I thought all hope was lost.  But what do you know, Harsin gets our team on a run and we are back to where all the magic happened in 2007 and 2010.

This game is a tough one to predict.  I can go off all the stats and look at the match-ups and go from there, but it seems like all that goes out the window during bowl season.  At this point I think the most prepared and focused team will win. Based on everything that I am hearing about Boise State, I think they are that team. The Bronco defense will struggle to slow down Arizona, but the Wildcats will have the same problem stopping Grant Hedrick, Jay Ajayi, SWR and The Weapon. I do think it will be close though.  Vegas says Arizona will win by 4 with a score in the mid 30’s for both.  I say the same but with Boise State edging out a win on a late field goal.  Boise State 34 Arizona 31

Noel

This will be my last time this season, and this calendar year, to get this right.  I’m going to agree with Derek on this and say it will come down to the more focused team.  The Broncos have run off 8 straight wins and the Wildcats just took a beating from Oregon.  I think that translates to the field 3 weeks later and causes an incredibly slow start from Arizona.  They won’t survive the initial deluge of awesomeness and will succumb to a final collegiate dose of the Jay Train being forced down their throat.  Final score – Boise State 42 Arizona 27

Tami

This game is going to be stupid close. The match-up is a nightmare. The teams are both highly focused, very talented, and capable of winning this. It’s going to come down to want and preparation…and Boise is a dangerous group of young men when they want to win and have nearly a month to get ready.

Hold on to your sombreros and flat screens, boys, this is going to be just as wild as the rest of the Fiestas. There are many touchdowns in our collective future! Boise wins a close one with an epic final college performance by both Grant Hedrick and Jay Ajayi. Broncos – 49, Wildcats – 48

 

Heath

Last prediction of the season, and I don’t know where to start. I feel like this game is going to be close, I feel like this will emulate Fiesta’s past. The 3-5-5 is a thorn in Grant’s side that he has one more shot to fully conquer, question is will he? I hope so, and I think he will have a solid game. I actually think the game rests on Grant’s arm and not Ajayi’s legs like many believe. Jay is going to get touches, what he does with those won’t decide the game unless he goes off on a historic fashion. The thing that will decide this game is whether or not we can convert 3rd down. I think we will, and I think we win this game and take home our 3rd Fiesta Bowl Trophy. My final score – Boise State 28 – Arizona 17.

Gage

Oh joy! It’s finally here. The match up previews can only contain my anxiousness for so long and my usual limit is three. Then I start thinking … I am tired of talking about, can it just be game day already. No.More.Talking…. It.Is.Go.Time !!!

I am skeptical to believe that Grant Hedrick can carry us through a game of this magnitude. I should have no reason to believe he can’t do his consistent performance from the past 8 games, but turnover Grant looms in the back of mind and I always fear he may reappear. With just about three weeks to prepare for the Broncos, I can guarantee Arizona has their defense ready to stop Jay Ajayi at all costs. I don’ see Arizona allowing the Jay-Train to beat them, thus placing the burden on Grant’s shoulders. If Grant is able to be turnover free and continue his stellar play as of late – we win. If not – we lose. I truly think it is simple as that. So… closing my eyes and throwing all my chips in on Grant Hedrick. And it wouldn’t be a Boise State Fiesta Bowl if a trick didn’t alter the game somehow. *wink wink* to you Mr. Sanford. Boise State 31 Arizona 27

 

Arizona’s Blue Home

Boise, Idaho – my birthplace and where I spent the first four years of my life. It’s where my families from and where my parents grew up. Yet, I never had the chance to call it home or truly invest in it.  My parent’s jobs’ took us away from Boise shortly after I turned four. I remember crying as we packed up and left. Of course I was just a little kid, so I may have been crying because my parents said no to stopping at McDonald’s. Who knows. Either way, next stop … Oregon.

It would have made sense  for me to be a Duck fan; we lived a mere 5 minutes away from Autzen Stadium. You could nearly see it from our house. We heard the roar of the crowd on game days. Green and yellow painted the town. Duck pride was strong and well spread and I …. could care less. As a little kid I was not enamored with football or the Ducks. My life was basketball. I lived it, breathed it, and spent all my time doing it. I was a Portland Trailblazers fan and my passion for sports lied there. Just four years after moving to Oregon, my family and I had decided the dreary and wet Eugene climate was not for us. Why not move to the state with the complete opposite weather?

Phoenix, Arizona was my new home and where I’d unknowingly spend the next 14+ years of my life. I was raised in Phoenix, a city that has a population of more than 1.5 million people, a state that has a pro team for every major sport. The similarities between Boise and Phoenix are faint and the differences are apparent. Despite spending more than three quarters of my life here, I have never felt Phoenix to be my home, just where I currently reside.

After leaving Boise I continually visited once a year during the summertime until reaching high school. My knowledge of BSU was minimal, the only information I possessed: my mom attended college there and the football field was blue. With each passing year my appetite for football grew exponentially as so did my curiosity for Boise State. Every time I visited, I felt myself gravitating closer and closer to becoming a Bronco fan. It didn’t take long to realize that Boise and Boise State are one in unison. A feeling I longed for.

Phoenix didn’t provide the hometown sports feel and still doesn’t. Arizona natives are few and far between; of those natives, the ones that cherish Arizona sports are even harder to find or may not exist. It is more common to locate diehard sports fans that enjoy ridiculing the likes of the: Suns, Diamondbacks, Coyotes, Cardinals, Arizona State, or Arizona.

The onslaught of blue and orange at my arrival every summer had me hooked. Boise residents paraded around their pride and joy ­­- Boise State – with unconditional love. Conversations began and ended with the Broncos: Did you see who we got for next year’s recruiting class?  What did you think of last week’s game? What bowl do you think we’ll go to this year?  I was flabbergasted that educated sports conversations existed between complete strangers. You can understand how this caught me off guard if you caught a glimpse of my typical sports conversation with a Phoenix resident: Me – Can you believe the Cardinals have 10 wins?  Them ­­­­­– The season started? …..

Despite having a plethora of pro teams and two Pac-12 universities at my disposal, I naturally cling to the Broncos. There is no overwhelming reason for me to be a Bronco fan and every reason to favor an Arizona school, but the fan base, the hometown feel, and the little school that could mentality swayed me to bleed blue.

The context I have included above has little to do with me and is just background information to the central thesis: Boise State is special, everything about it. ‘The Blue’ is special. The Bronco fan base is special. The culture is special. All of which is undeniable at this juncture. Bronco Nation is widespread and gaining more and more supporters each year. Boise State attracts an array of fans from all over that can’t help but respect what the Broncos have been able to accomplish without the funding or resources your typical ‘power conference’ school receives.

I like many others, ranging from many states, fell in love with everything BSU embodies. The iconic blue field paints the image, but it does not tell the whole story. The behind the scenes of Boise State and its blue collar attitude is a fantastic representation of BSU’s rise to success. As other storied programs have had their major highs and low since 2000, Boise State has been a model of consistency; winning the right way. The Bronco way.

Needless to say as the Broncos prepare to take on the Wildcats; my allegiance with Boise State will stand strong. On the 31st my family and I will be decked out in orange from head to toe at the Fiesta Bowl.

What do you say Bronco Nation, let’s paint Arizona orange. My blue home intends to.

BTN Poll: What will be the outcome of the Vizio Fiesta Bowl?

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We are less than 48 hours away from kickoff, and the excitement is building.  I don’t know about you but I can’t get enough Fiesta Bowl info right now.  So what does your gut tell you about this game?  Close game?  Blow out?  Gut just wants to know what is going in it on game day?  Vote below and let us know!

What will be the outcome of the Vizio Fiesta Bowl?

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Attack The Opponent: Arizona Wildcats (Fiesta Edition)

Hey, remember that time that Boise State got invited to their third Fiesta Bowl vs. Arizona? Yeah, that was pretty neat. Congratulations! You know the entire history of BSU and UA playing football against each other!

Just because these two teams have never played, does not mean there are no common threads. Former Boise State DL Jeff Worthy is now starting for the Wildcats, after a year of community college after being dismissed from the Broncos squad by Chris Petersen in early 2013. Jared Tevis, younger brother of Boise State standout linebacker Aaron Tevis is currently a linebacker at Arizona. One of Arizona’s best wide receivers, Cayleb Jones, played for Coach Harsin during his time at Texas. Both teams run a wild, fun to watch, prolific offense. Both teams are capable of playing shut down defense. Both teams have quarterbacks capable of moving with the ball, and defensive players who can change a game with a well-timed pick.

The Fiesta Bowl has been good to Boise State in the past, but this game feels like a weird match-up. The only other team we’ve played that runs a 3-3-5 defense is San Diego State, and after a couple of years of losing to the Aztecs, turned it around this season to put 399 yards and 5 TD’s on them. SDSU is not as big or fast as Arizona.

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The one common opponent the Wildcats and the Broncos share is Nevada. Arizona held the Wolf Pack to 28 points and put up 507 yards of offense in the third week, while Boise State allowed 46 points but rolled up 570 yards of offense in their week 6 win. The Wildcats might be an 11-2 Pac 12 team that was only second to Oregon, but they are beatable. Their red shirt freshman QB, Anu Solomon has been fighting a foot/ankle sprain for the last couple months, and its easy to see that their offensive production has fallen off some in that time.

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The best bet for Boise State is for Coach Caldwell’s boys on the D-Line to pull an ’07 and smash Arizona’s bigger offensive line in the teeth until they can get through to really bother Solomon in to passing the ball. His completion percentage is 58% on the season, and if he isn’t more accurate than that in this bowl, Boise States DB’s will have themselves a field day, complete with a track meet to the end zone after getting some picks.

Arizona’s run game has been inconsistent at best, but is capable of putting up serious numbers against questionable run defenses. The Broncos have had issues stopping the run, especially anything option-related. Arizona’s offense definitely is option-y, along with having no-huddle speed. This could be a problem.

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What do Ole Miss, CSU, Air Force, New Mexico, and Fresno have in common? Strong rush games. Air Force and New Mexico run a traditional option attack and both pushed Boise State to the edge and beyond. Forcing Arizona to take to the air or putting on a run defense show unlike anything we’ve seen since the first 4 games of the season is an absolute must for the Broncos to win this Fiesta.

Solid special teams play, limiting turnovers, all of those things apply to both squads. The Cats do turn the ball over less overall, they also didn’t have a 7 TO debacle as an outlier that’s messing up the average. They are more heavily penalized than the Broncos though, averaging 63 ypg in penalties over Boise’s 56. Basically, the little stuff is a draw.

On offense, Boise State needs to just stay consistent. They did not have a good second half vs. Fresno in the MWC championship game, which made a lot of people (including me) very nervous going in to bowl selection weekend. The champ game was the worst yardage performance by the Bronco offense since UConn.

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The conspiracy theory is nice though. You know, the one Bronco Nation has consoled themselves with for weeks – that Hars and Sanford closed the playbook as to not give our bowl opponent anything. It couldn’t be Boise’s offensive line giving their best imitation of a pasta strainer and allowing Fresnah’s d to stop the run at the line over and over and over and over… nope! That definitely wasn’t it.

The upcoming game is not going to be like the MWC championship game. It won’t be like Ole Miss either. Arizona might be the bigger, faster, Power 5 blah blah team, but got stomped the last time they set foot on a football field. Boise State has done nothing but win since October 4th. Taking a butt kicking from Oregon after beating them the first time and then having a month to think about it has to be rough. Of course, it could also be said that the Broncos cruised through an undemanding MWC schedule and is about to get a rude awakening at the hands of the Cats. The same thing we heard in 07, and again in 2010. Those games turned out okay.

Let’s be real here for a second. This time last year, we figured we’d be lucky to win 8 games again. The guys have not put together a perfect season. What they have done is re-established Bronco football as a program that still can’t be overlooked by any team, regardless of conference affiliation. Boise State is playing a tough opponent in Arizona, one that doesn’t match up all that well. However, the Broncos are motivated, and ready to give the Wildcats everything they’ve got. I couldn’t be more happy, or more proud of what those guys have done. Now it’s time to finish this. #1more.

It’s Fiesta Time!

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We are one week from Fiesta Eve

Photo courtesy Boise State

Photo courtesy Boise State

Time always seems to crawl between the last regular season game and the bowl game.  We were lucky enough to get an extra game with the MWC Championship game, yet the layoff has seemed to take forever.  A lot can happen in that time, too.  Last season we lost a coach, hired a coach, and lost one (and eventually two, it seems) quarterbacks to #PeeGate.  This year was better – celebrating a Championship, an invite to a major bowl game, and although bittersweet, celebrating the success of Jay Ajayi as he moves on to the NFL.

But now game week is upon us.  Juju must be posted, superstitions will commence, and on Christmas we will all stare at our new Bronco gear wondering if it is worthy of being presented to the Football Gods on game day, or if the fact none of it was there with us through the ups and downs of the season will jinx our team. Predictions will be predicted, banter will be bantered, and weak stomachs will get queasier by the day.

Game week is upon us.  Prepare accordingly.