A key MWC Mountain Division battle will take place on the blue turf on Saturday night
The Wyoming Cowboys and Boise State Broncos will hook up on the famous blue turf at Albertsons Stadium on Saturday night in a crucial Mountain West divisional showdown. The winning team will keep itself in a tight race at the top of the Mountain Division, while the loser will find itself chasing wins and relying on the losses of others to decide its fate.
Wyoming at Boise State
Kickoff: Saturday, Oct. 21 at 10:15 p.m. ET
TV Channel: ESPN2
Spread: Boise State -14
Three Things to Watch
1. The quarterbacks
Wyoming's Josh Allen and Boise State's Brett Rypien (above, right) are two of the best quarterbacks in the college game right now. They are the unquestioned leaders of their respective offenses, and their teams go as they go. Both will face formidable defenses Saturday night, and the player who best responds to the challenge will likely be the one who leads his team to victory.
2. Wyoming's secondary
The Cowboy defensive backs are among the best in the nation as a unit when it comes to taking the ball away. They've got nine total interceptions on the year, four of them by cornerback Rico Gafford. Safety Andrew Wingard is the leader of the group, and he's a guy who will likely be a force on Sundays. Rypien is going to need to pick his poison carefully when looking to move the ball downfield against this talented bunch. If Wyoming can snag an interception or two, it may be enough to turn the tide in this one.
3. Alexander Mattison's touches
The numbers don't lie — Boise State is just flat out a better football team when running back Mattison gets double-digit carries. He's Rypien's most important weapon, and when head coach Bryan Harsin figures out how to get the ball to him consistently, good things happen. Keep an eye on Mattison's involvement early on. Wyoming head coach Craig Bohl will likely make a concerted effort to take him out of the game. If that's the case, the game will turn into a coaching chess match between Harsin and Bohl.
There is plenty of talent on both sides of the ball in this game — as much as you'll see between any two Group of 5 programs in the country. That said, I expect this one to be decided on the sidelines. The Broncos are coming off of a big win over San Diego State, but there's more to that game as you peel back the layers. Boise State didn't do much offensively and relied on big plays from the defense and special teams to jump ahead. Craig Bohl's Cowboys won't rely on the run like San Diego State did and will be much more careful with the football. On defense, I expect Wyoming to key on Broncos running back Alexander Mattison to take him away from Rypien as often as possible, leading to a sound, calculated upset win on the Smurf Turf for the Cowboys.
Prediction: Wyoming 30, Boise State 20
— Written by J.P. Scott, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. His work has appeared on SI.com, FoxSports.com, Yahoo!, Bleacher Report and SB Nation. Follow him on Twitter @TheJPScott