The word in some quarters of the Mountain West was that Boise State wasn’t quite as good as usual this season.
In September, the Broncos had just lost at home by 19 points to lightly-regarded Virginia and the always-solid program was only 2-2. But after a bye week, Boise won three straight and all of the talk seems to have drifted away.
Not that it was ever a thing in and around the football offices at Utah State.
“Everybody knows how I’ve always felt about the Broncos. I have a tremendous amount of respect for them,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said.
“We’ve got two losses in the league, so I understand where that puts us in the race,” Wells said. “But, to me, they are who everybody is shooting for in the league.”
Utah State bounced back from home losses to Colorado State and Wyoming to win 52-28 at UNLV last week. The Aggies unleashed freshman quarterback Jordan Love against the Rebels and, in his first start, Love threw for 316 yards and a pair of touchdowns.
Senior QB Kent Myers did come in for one second quarter possession — a reversal from a month ago, when Love was given a limited chance in Myers’ place, then head back to the bench.
Wells has not said what he plans to do this week, but that he admires the way Boise State coach Bryan Harsin rotates his quarterbacks.
Junior Broncos signal-caller Brett Rypien, nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien, has thrown for 842 yards this season while senior Montell Cozart has connected for 539 yards through the air and rushed for 260 more.
“They’re playing two QBs probably better than I’ve ever seen,” Wells said. “I don’t know how Bryan does it. He’s managed both of them very well.”
In the last three games for Boise State — road wins at BYU and San Diego State, followed by a home victory last week against Wyoming — the defense has been a major strength. The Broncos haven’t given up more than 14 points in any of those games.
Two players on Boise State’s defensive line are from Utah. Junior defensive end Durrant Miles went to Bingham, while sophomore nose tackle Sonatane Lui attended Alta.
“It will be our best test all year and I’m excited for it,” Aggies center Quin Ficklin said. “You want to play against the best and you hope that all their guys are healthy because I don’t want to play against Boise State’s backups.
“We want to play against their starters, we want to see what they can do and show them what we can do,” he added. “It’s exciting.”
Boise State at Utah State
At Maverik Stadium
Kickoff • 8 p.m.
TV • CBSSN
Radio • 1280 AM
Records • USU 4-4, 2-2 in MWC; BSU 5-2, 3-0
Series history • Boise State leads, 16-5
Last meeting • BSU 21, USU 10 (Oct. 1, 2016)
About the Broncos • Sophomore running back Alexander Mattison has averaged 112 yards rushing over the last three games after gaining only 21 total in consecutive games against New Mexico and Virginia earlier in the season. Mattison had 91 yards on 17 carries against Wyoming last week. ... Although quarterback Brett Rypien has thrown almost twice as many passes as teammate Montell Cozart, 130 attempts to 69, Cozart has seven touchdowns to Rypien’s two. ... Cozart also rushed for two touchdowns in 24-14 win over Wyoming. ... The Broncos have a 7-2 all-time record in Logan and had won five straight at Utah State until falling 52-26 to the Aggies two years ago.
About the Aggies • Defensive end Ian Togiai missed a second straight game, last week at UNLV, after the senior injured his left leg against Colorado State on Oct. 7. ... Two long pass plays against the Rebels were all-freshman affairs. QB Jordan Love found frosh receiver Savon Scarver for a 70-yard completion and then hooked up with redshirt freshman Jordan Nathan for 75 yards. ... Another freshman, running back Tre Miller, had a career-high 48 yards on 11 carries against UNLV. ... Senior LaJuan Hunt rushed for 101 yards last week. It was the first hundred-yard day on the ground since Eltoro Allen had 103 yards in the second week against Idaho State.