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Boise State welcomes back an intriguing foe for Homecoming 2009, facing U.C. Davis. The Aggies have not been to Bronco Stadium since 1985, and in all honesty, unless the Broncos self-destruct in every facet of the game, pose little chance of keeping the fifth ranked team in the country from moving to 5-0. But, U.C. Davis is head coach Chris Petersen's alma mater, and is a football program with storied tradition and a tremendous reputation for producing great coaches (ie - Chris Petersen, Dan Hawkins and Mike Belotti). Oh, and by the way, the last time U.C. Davis came to Bronco Stadium, Chris Petersen (yes the same Coach Pete, Chris Petersen) nearly quarterbacked the Aggies to an upset of the Broncos. Much has changed in the 24 years since, but it's an example Coach Pete will talk about heading into this game, emphasizing to his team that nothing can be taken for granted.
Following are the storylines to follow in today's game between Boise State and U.C. Davis.
RIDE THE BIG PLAY WAVE
Boise State has strung together three straight games of 48 or more points, capitalizing on big plays. Jeremy Avery, for example, has four plays of 60 or more yards in the past two games alone. Titus Young has scored four touchdowns in that same span. The Broncos have had three different tailbacks and three different wide receivers go over 100 yards rushing and receiving in the past three games. And, quarterback Kellen Moore has thrown 9 touchdown passes without being intercepted as the Broncos have outscored the opposition 148-48 since the season opening win over Oregon. Wow, weapons are a plenty on this Bronco team. It's a matter of who has the hot hand, or so far this season, hot hands for Boise State.
A FEW COMMANALITIES
One thing is certain, U.C. Davis can't be blamed for taking on a healthy schedule. The Aggies opened on the road at Fresno State, before hosting perennial FCS power Montana in week two. After dropping those two games, Davis picked up its first win of the season this past weekend, downing Western Oregon 29-13. The commonality in opponents is the Fresno State matchup. The Bulldogs overwhelmed the Aggies, 51-0, scoring five first half touchdowns. In week three, Boise State traveled to Fresno, winning 51-34. The big play (as was talked about above) hurt U.C. Davis in the Fresno game, as Ryan Matthews busted off a 60 yard touchdown run (Bronco fans can sympathize with that) and Marlon Moore scored on a 92 yard passing play for the Bulldogs. Davis was able to rebound against Montana, holding the explosive Grizzlies to just 17 points and 312 yards in a 17-10 loss. Based on the common opponents and what Boise State was able to do at Fresno, this year's Homecoming could have some explosive fireworks for the Bronco offensive stars.
PRIDE IN THE TRENCHES
Boise State's offensive line has done more than take control in the last two games, they've manhandled the opposition. Led by center Thomas Byrd and guards Will Lawrence and Kevin Sapien, the Broncos racked up 566 yards rushing in wins over Fresno State and Bowling Green. U.C. Davis' has allowed 148 yards per game on the ground this season and over four yards per carry. Not a good recipe against a very disciplined and aggressive Boise State offensive line that is gaining confidence with every game.
SINGING THE BLUES
U.C. Davis won't need to be reminded how good the Broncos are at home. But, every time Boise State steps on The Blue, the numbers need to be shown, as the team is an amazing 66-2 in the past 10+ years at home. After a two game road hiatus, emotion will be on the Bronco side as this is a Homecoming game and a homecoming for the team after big wins at Fresno State and Bowling Green. Key will be Boise State not looking at the opponent name across the field, but keeping the mentality of "competing against ourselves" that has built this team into a top five team nationally.
SWARMING B'S...OR IS THAT D'S?
The Bronco defense forced three critical turnovers against Bowling Green, two leading immediately to points. It wasn't until the Broncos had a commanding 43-0 lead that the Falcons got on the scoreboard with two touchdowns. After giving up 34 points in the road win at Fresno State and over 300 yards on the ground, the Broncos swarm tackled at Bowling Green, pressured the quarterback on nearly every play and intercepted two more passes. Consider these numbers and you'll see why opposing offensive coordinators are trying to figure out ways to attack the Bronco defense: 14 point per game allowed; 9 interceptions to just 2 touchdown passes, less than 285 yards per game allowed, and a defensive front led by Ryan Winterswyk, Chase Baker and Billy Winn that has produced 12 tackles for loss and 4.5 sacks.