Broncos look to get back on the winning track against a capable conference foe
The New Year's Six dreams of the Boise State Broncos took a significant hit last weekend thanks to a blowout loss to Oklahoma State in Stillwater. They'll look to get back on the winning track this week against the Wyoming Cowboys.
Wyoming is coming off of a 17-14 win over Wofford, after suffering back-to-back blowout losses of its own against a couple of Power 5 opponents.
Boise State and Wyoming remain two of the premier teams in the Mountain West Conference, and both head coaches will have their teams prepared to give us yet another exciting chapter in this rivalry.
Boise State at Wyoming
Kickoff: Saturday, Sept. 29 at 7 p.m. ET
Spread: Boise State -17
Three Things to Watch
1. Can Boise State start fast?
The Broncos are the heavy favorite on paper, but that might not mean a whole lot when the rubber hits the road. The Cowboy faithful will be loud and ready to go after a whole day of tailgating. Boise State is the biggest name the Wyoming fans will see all season, and they'll be ready to make their presence felt in this game. The Broncos need to come out and silence the crowd early with a score. It doesn't matter if it comes off an explosive play or a long, soul-crushing scoring drive — Boise State needs to establish dominance and suck the life out of Laramie right away. A failure to score on their first drive could spell trouble for the Broncos.
2. Brett Rypien vs. Andrew Wingard
Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien is the best quarterback in the Mountain West and one of the best in the nation. He'll be staring across the line of scrimmage at Wyoming safety Andrew Wingard — one of the best in the country at his position and a sure-fire NFL starter one day. This chess match will be key; as Wingard goes, so goes the Cowboys defense. Wyoming has the talent on defense to hang with the Broncos offense. Rypien will have his work cut out for him as he tries to hold his cards close to his chest and keep Wingard and the Cowboys defense on their heels.
3. Boise State's pass protection
As mentioned, Wyoming has talent on its defense. They'll be pinning their ears back with nothing to lose, trying to pressure and take down Rypien all night. As we saw last weekend when Oklahoma State logged seven sacks against the Broncos, Boise State's offensive line has trouble against a good pass rush. Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl is smart enough to craft a scheme based on the film he saw from that game. If the Broncos can keep Rypien off the turf, they should cruise. If he is under pressure all game like he was a week ago, things will get interesting.
I can see why the spread is what it is for this game. That said, I know how good of a coach Craig Bohl is as well. Boise State is more talented to a man, but Wyoming has the horses — especially on defense — to keep this game close and interesting into the fourth quarter. The difference will be Boise State running back Alexander Mattison. He hasn't been fully utilized as a receiver in 2018, but I'm betting that will change if Wyoming decides to commit to the pass rush. Screens and draw plays using the shifty back will keep the chains moving for Boise State, en route to a less-than-comfortable win for the Broncos.
Prediction: Boise State 27, Wyoming 13
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo! SBNation and Bleacher Report. He is a three-time FWAA writing contest award winner. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott.
(Top photo by Boise State Photo Services, courtesy of broncosports.com)