Broncos Look For Redemption Saturday
Nov. 13, 2017
BOISE, Idaho - The Boise State football team, riding the nation's fifth-longest winning streak, returns to Albertsons Stadium for its regular-season home finale, Saturday (Nov. 18). The Broncos (8-2, 6-0 MW) will host Air Force (4-6, 3-3) with an 8:15 p.m. start time, and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
The Broncos' six-game winning streak is tied with Army and FAU, and trails only Miami (14), Wisconsin (11), Alabama (10) and UCF (9).
SENIOR DAY: Boise State will honor 14 seniors prior to the Air Force game, a class that is one win shy of becoming the 15th in the last 16 years to win 40-or-more games in their careers, or an average of 10 wins per season.
THE SERIES: Air Force is the only school in the Mountain West that boasts a winning record over the Broncos (3-2), having won each of the last three meetings between the schools. The Falcons are one of only three teams to win three-straight games against the Broncos since Boise State joined the ranks as a four-year school in 1968, and the first since Nevada did it from 1996-98. Idaho is the only school to defeat Boise State in four-straight games (1982-93), and the feat hasn't been accomplished since Boise State joined what is now the Football Bowl Subdivision in 1996. The Broncos are 2-1 against Air Force at Albertsons Stadium.
THE SENIORS: Saturday's match-up with the Falcons is Senior Day for Boise State, and the Broncos will honor 14 student-athletes prior to the start of the game: Daniel Auelua (DT), Brock Barr (WR/LS), Austin Cottrell (WR), Montell Cozart (QB), Alec Dhaenens (TE), Mason Hampton (C), Cameron Hartsfi eld (S), Archie Lewis (RT), Gabe Perez (SLB), Jake Roh (TE), Austin Silsby (DT), Andrew Tercek (LG), Cedrick Wilson (WR) and Ryan Wolpin (RB). Eight of the student-athletes came in as true freshmen: Dhaenens, Hampton, Hartsfi eld, Lewis, Perez, Roh, Silsby and Tercek.
TOP SCORING OFFENSE IN MW: Following a 59-point output this past week against Colorado State, Boise State claimed the top spot on the Mountain West's scoring average list. Through 10 games this season, the Broncos are averaging 33.9 points per game, edging Colorado State (33.1)...again.
A COMEBACK FOR THE HISTORY BOOKS: Boise State recorded its biggest comeback going as far back as 1988 Saturday night in Fort Collins, overcoming a 25-point deficit to defeat Colorado State, 59-52, in overtime. The Broncos trailed by 25 at two different points (28-3 and 35-10, both in the first half), but outscored the Rams, 49-17, over the final 31:34 of regulation and through one overtime. Boise State's previous best comeback was from a 20-point deficit, when the Broncos overcame a 20-0 hole to beat San Diego State, 38-29, at Albertsons Stadium on Nov. 15, 2014.
THE ROUGH START OVERCOME: Boise State's comeback was set up by a rough fi rst quarter, in which Colorado State outscored the Broncos, 21-3. It marked the largest first-quarter deficit for the Broncos since Oct. 3, 1998, when Louisiana Tech opened up a 21-0 lead. The Rams' 21 points was also the most in an opening period by a Bronco opponent since New Mexico put up 28 points in the opening frame back on Nov. 8, 2014, in Albuquerque (an eventual 60-49 Boise State win).
CLINCH THE MOUNTAIN BEFORE SATURDAY'S KICKOFF?: Boise State, at 6-0 in Mountain West play, could clinch the Mountain Division, and a spot in Dec. 2's Mountain West Championship Game, with a victory over Air Force Saturday. However, there's a chance that the Broncos could take the field Saturday night with the division title already in hand. If Fresno State defeats Wyoming Saturday afternoon (the game kicks off at noon), that would not only clinch the Mountain Division for the Broncos, but would set the conference title-game matchup, as Fresno State would also clinch the West Division.
AN UNBEATEN CONFERENCE SEASON ON TAP?: Saturday night's victory in Fort Collins improved Boise State to 6-0 in Mountain West play. With two conference games remaining (vs. Air Force, at Fresno State), the Broncos have a shot at the program's first unbeaten conference season since going 8-0 en route to the WAC title in 2009. Since joining the FBS in 1996, Boise State has finished unbeaten in conference play seven times previous: once in the Big West (2000), and six times in the WAC (2002-04, 2006, 2008-09).
VANDER ESCH A BURLSWORTH TROPHY SEMIFINALIST: Redshirt junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch was named a semifinalist for the Burlsworth Trophy, given annually to the most outstanding college football player who began his career as a walk-on, on Nov. 7.
In 2017, the Riggins, Idaho, native has been the lynchpin of the Bronco defense, which ranks 27th overall in the FBS (334.1 yards allowed per game) and 19th against the run (121.9 ypg). Individually, Vander Esch has been in the middle of nearly everything as he leads the Broncos in tackles with 99 (63 solo), ranks 12th in the country with 9.9 tackles per game, and sixth in the country with 6.3 solo tackles per game.
Vander Esch has also shown his play-making ability in the turnover game, forcing three fumbles, including one in overtime at Colorado State (Nov. 11) that was recovered by the Broncos to clinch a win, and picking off a pair of passes so far this season to go along with 3.0 sacks and 5.5 tackles-for-loss.
MILES MAKING PLAYS: Defensive end Durrant Miles collected his second sack of the year Saturday night in Fort Collins, dropping Colorado State's Nick Stevens for a three-yard loss in the third quarter. For the game, Miles made five tackles, including 1.5 tackles-for-loss, and had two key pass breakups at the line of scrimmage. The performance against the Rams has continued a breakout year for Miles, who ranks sixth on the team and leads the Bronco defensive front four with 31 tackles in addition to recording 2.0 sacks and 6.0 TFL. Miles has also intercepted a pass this year, and has forced two fumbles, second on the team behind Leighton Vander Esch (three).
MATTISON WITH A RECORD-SETTING NIGHT: Sophomore running back Alexander Mattison broke out for a career and record-setting night Nov. 11 at Colorado State, going for career highs of 242 rushing yards and three touchdowns in the 59-52 overtime win. His 242 rushing yards (on 23 carries) marks the third-highest single-game total in Boise State history, while his 286 yards from scrimmage (242 rush, 44 receiving) set the program single-game record, eclipsing Thomas Sperbeck's 281 yards against New Mexico on Nov. 14, 2015. Mattison's 70- yard touchdown run on the second play of the second half also marked his career-long run.
The performance moved him from 68th nationally in rushing average to 33rd (91.9 YPG). After a slow start to the season, which included tough outings on the ground Sept. 14 against New Mexico (10 yards on six carries) and Sept. 22 against Virginia (11 yards on seven carries), Mattison has gotten things on track, rushing for 753 yards over Boise State's last six games (125.5 ypg). That fi gure has included three 100-yard outings and a 200-yard outing.
For the year, Mattison leads the Broncos with 919 rushing yards and 10 scores on the ground. With at least three games remaining, the sophomore is on pace to hit 1,000 yards and extend Boise State's streak of seasons with a 1,000-yard rusher to nine (since 2009).
ROH APPROACHING A BANNER YEAR FOR A BRONCO TIGHT END: Redshirt senior tight end Jake Roh continued his career year Saturday night at Colorado State, catching fi ve passes for 62 yards and two touchdown in the Bronco victory. It marked his third multitouchdown game of the year, and through Nov. 11 he leads all FBS tight ends in touchdown receptions (nine) and total touchdowns (11). For the year, Roh has not only set career highs in touchdowns and touchdown catches, but also in receptions (38), exceeding his previous best of 35 in 2014, while his 408 receiving yards matches his career-best total from 2014.
Roh, a John Mackey Award candidate who was named to the All-Mountain West Second Team in 2015 and honorable mention in 2014, ranks second on the team this year with 38 receptions and 408 receiving yards, and leads the Broncos with nine scoring grabs and 11 touchdowns overall. His other two touchdowns have come on the ground, as Roh, working primarily from the Wildcat, has rushed six times for 25 yards this season.
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