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Boise State Broncos vs. New Mexico Lobos Prediction and Preview

Boise State Broncos vs. New Mexico Lobos Prediction and Preview

Boise State Broncos vs. New Mexico Lobos Prediction and Preview

The Mountain West Conference has had a few unexpected results recent weeks, but the Boise State Broncos (8-2, 5-1) have once again played their way into the conference championship conversation. This week a trip to Dreamstyle Stadium awaits as the New Mexico Lobos (3-7, 1-5) are hoping to play spoiler on Friday night.

Boise State took care of Fresno State last Friday night at Albertson’s Stadium by a score of 24-17 after rallying from a 17-3 deficit. This game did have some fun controversy late in the fourth quarter as the Broncos were awarded a first down on a third-and-one play with 18 seconds left thanks to a very questionable spot at best. Brett Rypien did enough in the passing game by throwing for 269 yards and one touchdown pass. Alexander Mattison was a difference maker on the ground as Mattison rushed for 144 yards on 30 carries and helped keep the explosive Bulldogs offense off the field. The defense held off Fresno State’s initial 10-point surge in the second quarter by limiting the Bulldogs ability to run the football. This allowed the defensive line to take over the line of scrimmage in the second half.

New Mexico dropped its fifth straight game last Saturday in Colorado Springs as Air Force wore them down with the running game in a 42-24 loss to the Falcons. The Lobos put up a good competitive fight in the first half as they trailed only 21-17 at halftime. They also did a nice job defensively of forcing turnovers by recovering three fumbles once again. Jalin Burrell picked up his first career touchdown with a fumble recovery in the end zone late in the third quarter. Offensively, the Lobos turned the ball over twice in the third quarter, which allowed Air Force to pull away and put the game away. Tyson Dyer did provide a cool special teams highlight with an 84-yard punt which set a school record and is the longest punt in the FBS so far this season.

Boise State at New Mexico

Kickoff: Friday, Nov. 16 at 9 p.m. ET


Spread: Broncos -20.5

Three Things to Watch

1. Boise State offense

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Boise State needs to build off last week when it ran the ball well against a good tough Fresno State defense. The Broncos are going to have a big advantage up front with their offensive line should have no problem getting Mattison over 1,000 yards on the season in this game if he gets 25 carries on Friday night. Rypien is having an excellent senior season as he has thrown for 3,048 yards along with 25 touchdown passes and just seven interceptions. Rypien will look to get the ball in the hands of Sean Modster and A.J. Richardson with a couple of deep passes to keep New Mexico honest defensively. Khalil Shakir is another receiver to keep an eye on as Shakir had four receptions for 59 yards last week and should have a similar type of night against the Lobos secondary. Third down will be another key for the Broncos as they were 10-of-16 against the Bulldogs, and that allowed Boise State to control the clock and keep the ball away from an explosive Fresno State offense.

2. New Mexico offense vs. Boise State defense

The Lobos are going to have to shorten the game against the Broncos offensively by running the ball out of their spread option attack. Tyrone Owens and Daevon Vigilant will need to combine for 20 carries and keep drives alive by converting on short yardage third down situations. New Mexico has converted 39.86 percent of their third down situations, while Boise State has limited teams to a 31 percent conversion rate on third downs to lead the Mountain West Conference. Sheriron Jones and Coltin Gerhart are expected to share time at quarterback and they will need to take care of the football in the passing game. They also will need to create chunk plays through the air to take advantage of a beat-up Broncos defense that still is playing at a high level. Curtis Weaver leads the Boise State defense with 8.5 sacks, and Kekoa Nawahine has anchored a secondary that has gone through its share of adversity health wise. The Broncos are limiting opposing teams to 239.3 passing yards per game this season. It will be up to Boise State to just remain fundamentally sound and force the New Mexico offense to make mistakes as the game goes along.

3. Boise State's mindset

The Broncos can put this game away early if they come out and don’t have too many unnecessary penalties or an early turnover. These types of self-inflicted wounds will give the Lobos that confidence and belief that they can hang with Boise State for 60 minutes. Turnovers have been huge for the Broncos this season as they are plus-five on the season, while the Lobos are at minus-one, despite doing a great job of causing fumbles on defense recently. Ball security is going to crucial for both teams as they attempt to establish the line of scrimmage by dominating the other on the ground. There is also the Utah State game next week sitting out there for Boise State which will have everything on the line. Thus, it will be interesting to see how focused the Broncos will be this week as they should have plenty of motivation to put this game away early.

Final Analysis

Boise State will have to grind this one out as the environment in Albuquerque should be very sleepy, which will test head coach Bryan Harsin and his staff’s ability to get the Broncos ready to play. New Mexico is playing for pride, and this game will be their bowl game, so you will see their best effort in the early going. In the end, Brett Rypien and the Boise State will wear down the Lobos and pull away for their ninth win of the season by cashing in on a pair of key turnovers caused by the Broncos' defense.

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Prediction: Boise State 33, New Mexico 16

— Written by Scott Whittum, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Follow him on Twitter @ScottWhittum.

(Top photo by Allison Corona/Boise State University)