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Game preview: Boise State returns home to resume rivalry with BYU

The Boise State football team starts a stretch of three home games in the final four games to finish out the regular season Saturday when they host BYU at 8:15 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium on ESPN2. (CBS 2News Staff)

The Basics

The Boise State football team starts a stretch of three home games in the final four games to finish out the regular season Saturday when they host BYU at 8:15 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium on ESPN2. The Broncos have played the Cougars four times in Boise and in three of those games only won by a single point. Boise State also suffered a tough loss in 2015 at BYU in which the Cougars scored a game-winning touchdown with just 45 seconds left. Will this be another classic? Odds would say so.

Last time in Boise against BYU

Boise State committed five turnovers in the most recent game against BYU in Boise in 2016 but hung on for a dramatic 28-27 win when David Moa blocked a Cougar field goal attempt in the final seconds. Because the ball didn’t reach the line of scrimmage and BYU recovered, the Cougars actually got to keep the ball and had enough time for two more plays. Both deep passes fell incomplete and the Broncos rushed the field in celebration.

Why the Broncos should feel confident

Boise State is 6-2 all-time against the Cougars including a 4-0 mark in Boise. The Cougars have struggled on offense all season and rank worse than 100th in most major offensive stats. That includes ranking No. 111th in scoring offense at 22.8 points, and 120th in total offense at 326.4 yards per game. There are 130 FBS teams this season. The Broncos meanwhile rank near the top in most offensive stats. BYU’s offense probably won’t do much, and the Broncos should be able to score enough to win.

Why the Broncos should be concerned

Fluky things have happened before when Boise State plays BYU. The Cougars also have a freshman quarterback, Zach Wilson, that has shown an ability to move the ball both with his arm and his legs. He’s also a former Boise State commit and will likely be motivated to play well on The Blue. BYU also has a strong defense this season that ranks No. 27 in total defense at 335.0 yards allowed per game and No. 35 in scoring defense at 22.3 points allowed per game. The Broncos already lost one big home game this year, and BYU will surely come in with confidence that they can make it two.

Quotable

“Oh yeah, there’s no question. In this region right here, this is a big-time game. Much respect for their program and what they’ve done and they obviously have a lot of tradition and a lot of history and fan base not just in football but for all of their sports. In this region right here this is a huge game. We talk to the young guys about preparing themselves because this is going to be one of the best atmospheres you’ll ever play in in this game. It’s exciting. It’s what college football is all about.”

-Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said when asked whether BYU should be considered a rival.

Prediction

Boise State has won three games in a row following the home loss to San Diego State and appears to be rolling at the right time. The Broncos have been getting great quarterback play from Brett Rypien, and a battered defense is doing enough despite a number of injuries. Boise State’s offense should be able to move the ball, and the defense shouldn’t give up much to BYU. Boise State makes it 5-0 at home against the Cougars. Boise State 34, BYU 17.

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