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.
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.
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.
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.
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!