Broncos Open Mountain West Play Thursday
Sept. 11, 2017

WSU Gameday

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1-1, 0-0 MW
New Mexico at Boise State
Thursday, Sept. 14 | 6 p.m. MT
Albertsons Stadium | Boise, Idaho
Broadcast: ESPN
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Boise State
1-1, 0-0 MW
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BOISE, Idaho - The Boise State football team (1-1) will open its Mountain West slate Thursday (Sept. 14) at home against New Mexico (1-1). The Broncos and Lobos will kick at 6 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium, and the game will be nationally televised by ESPN.

THE SERIES: Boise State boasts a 7-1 record all-time against New Mexico, though the Lobos’ lone victory came in the last meeting at Albertsons Stadium, a 31-24 defeat, Nov. 14, 2015. Overall, the Broncos are 3-1 at home against New Mexico.

NON-SATURDAY GAMES: Boise State is 53-16 all-time in nonSaturday games, including a mark of 45-10 during the regular season. On Thursdays, Boise State is 8-2 all-time, including a 7-2 mark during the regular season.

CONFERENCE OPENERS: Boise State has won 17-consecutive conference openers since a loss in 1999, when the Broncos fell 17-10 to North Texas (Oct. 16). The Broncos are 34-13 all-time in conference openers. Boise State is opening its conference slate at home for the fi fth-straight season, and the Broncos are 18-3 all-time in such games. The last loss in a conference opener played in Boise came against North Texas, Oct. 10, 1998 (21-13) – a streak of 10-straight victories.

HOME WINNING STREAK: Boise State has won seven-consecutive home games, tied for the fourth-longest streak in the nation. Michigan (9), Penn State (9) and Nebraska (8) boast longer streaks than the Broncos, whose seven-game streak is tied for Colorado, Old Dominion, Temple and Tulsa. The Broncos’ last home loss came against Air Force, Nov. 20, 2015 (37-30). MW SUCCESS: Since joining the Mountain West for the 2011 season, Boise State has lost just 10 conference games, with only two of those nine losses being by more than seven points. Outside of a 28-14 loss to Air Force (Sept. 27) in 2014 and a 52-26 loss at Utah State (Oct. 16) in 2015, the Broncos’ other eight Mountain West losses have come by a combined 30 points. Boise State’s four Mountain West losses from 2011-13 were by a combined seven points: TCU in 2011 (36-35); San Diego State in 2012 (21-19); Fresno State (41-40) and SDSU (34-31, OT) in 2013. Among current Mountain West teams, only Air Force (3-2) boasts a winning record over Boise State.

YOU LIKE TURNOVERS, EH? WELL, HAVE ALL THE TURNOVERS IN THE WORLD!!!: After forcing just nine turnovers in 2016, an all-time program low, Boise State’s defense has responded to its critics in a big way early in 2017 with six takeaways through two games. After recording an interception and two fumble recoveries in the Sept. 2 opener against Troy, the Broncos made three more takeaways Sept. 9 at Washington State (two interceptions, one fumble). Junior cornerback Tyler Horton got it started with an interception at the Bronco 3-yard line to stop a Cougar drive, marking the second-straight season in which the Fresno, Calif., native has recorded a pick against Washington State. Junior defensive end Durrant Miles capitalized on a ball tipped by linebacker Tyson Maeva late in the third quarter, hauling in the loose ball for his fi rst-career interception. The big Bronco defensive turnover came early in the fourth quarter, as redshirt junior STUD Jabril Frazier strip-sacked Washington State quarterback Luke Falk, and redshirt freshman STUD Curtis Weaver plucked the ball free and rumbled 55 yards for Boise State’s fi rst defensive score of the season.

TURNOVER STREAKS: Boise State forced three turnovers Saturday night at Washington State (two INT, one fumble), the team’s second-straight game with at least three forced turnovers. The last time the Broncos had back-to-back games forcing at least three turnovers was a three-game run from Sept. 25-Oct. 10, 2015 (at Virginia, vs. Hawai’i, at Colorado State). The Bronco defense also now has back-to-back games forcing multiple turnovers for the fi rst time since a fi ve-game run from Oct. 31-Dec. 23, 2015 (at UNLV, vs. New Mexico, vs. Air Force, at San Jose State, vs. Northern Illinois).

PAPER OR PLASTIC?: Boise State sacked Washington State quarterbacks Luke Falk and Tyler Hilinski fi ve times Saturday night, led by two from linebacker Leighton Vander Esch while STUD Jabril Frazier, linebacker Tyson Maeva and defensive tackle David Moa each had one. Two of the sacks (Frazier, Vander Esch) resulted in fumbles, with Frazier’s strip sack of Falk early in the fourth quarter ending with STUD Curtis Weaver finding the loose ball and taking it 55 yards for a touchdown. Through two games this season, the Broncos have dropped opposing quarterbacks nine times, with Vander Esch leading the way with three.

VANDER ESCH ON THE RISE: Linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, in his fi rst season as a full-time starter, has already made a big impact through just two games in 2017. After Saturday night’s performance in Pullman, which included two sacks and a forced fumble in addition to his career-high 16 tackles (10 solo), Vander Esch is living up to the praise of his coaches during the preseason, as well as the faith of his teammates, who voted him one of Boise State’s three full-season captains. Through the fi rst two games of 2017, Vander Esch leads the Bronco defense in tackles (23) and sacks (3.0).

YOUNG GUNS FUELING THE SECONDARY: Standing out over the fi rst two games of the season has been the Boise State secondary, led by junior cornerback Tyler Horton and a cadre of hard-hitters which includes sophomore safeties Kekoa Nawahine and DeAndre Pierce. Saturday night in Pullman, Horton picked off his fi rst pass of the year and broke up two more, while Nawahine, who made his fi rstcareer pick Sept. 2 against Troy, racked up a career-high 12 tackles and shared one for loss. Pierce, the son of nine-year NFL veteran Antonio Pierce, has quickly established himself as the hammer of the secondary. He fi rst showed his tackling prowess with a big hit at Hawai’I last season, and Saturday night in Pullman delivered two more impact tackles as he fi nished the game with a career-high six tackles including one for loss. Fellow sophomore Reid Harrison-Ducros, at cornerback, made a career-high eight tackles Saturday night to continue his strong start to the season.

STOPPING THE GROUND GAME: Boise State held Washington State to just 22 yards on 27 carries Saturday night, an overage of 0.8 yards per attempt. It marked the second-straight game to open the season in which the Broncos held an opponent under the century mark, and should instill confi dence in a young defense that will face New Mexico’s triple-option Thursday night. Through the first two games of 2017, the Broncos rank fifth in the nation in rushing defense, allowing just 49.0 yards per game.

WILSON SHOWS WHY HE’S AMONG NATION’S BEST WIDEOUTS: Senior wide receiver Cedrick Wilson put on a show for the ESPN audience Saturday night in Pullman, tying his career best with nine catches, as they went for 147 yards and two touchdowns. It was the sixth 100-yard game in Wilson’s career, showing why he was an obvious choice for the 2017 Biletnikoff Award Preseason Watch List. Wilson’s fi rst score of the game came on a 47-yard bomb from Montell Cozart, and he showed his toughness over the middle in the second overtime, catching a short slant and powering into the end zone for a 15-yard score.

COZART MAKES THE MOST OF EXTENDED TIME: A week after completing 6-of- 9 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown while rushing eight times for 36 yards in his Bronco debut Sept. 2 against Troy, redshirt senior quarterback Montell Cozart, a graduate transfer from Kansas, again came off the bench Saturday in Pullman to spark the Bronco off ense. Following Brett Rypien leaving the game in the fi rst quarter after taking a couple of big hits, Cozart stepped in and ended up going 12-for-20 for 161 yards and two touchdowns with an interception, and rushing for 72 yards and a touchdown on 14 carries. Cozart showed great connection with wide receiver Cedrick Wilson, throwing two touchdowns to the senior, including a game-tying 15-yard toss in the second overtime. He also made plays with his legs, as he demonstrated against Troy, running for a 14-yard touchdown to put the Broncos ahead 17-10 in the third quarter. Through two games, Cozart is 18-for-29 for 211 yards and three touchdowns against just one interception. He’s also rushed 22 times for 108 yards and a touchdown.

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