Boise State (8-2) at Wyoming (4-6)
The Sports Network
DATE & TIME: Saturday, November 22, 10:15 p.m. (ET).
FACTS & STATS: Site: War Memorial Stadium (29,181) -- Laramie, Wyoming. Television: ESPN2. Home Record: Boise State 5-0, Wyoming 3-2. Away Record: Boise State 3-1, Wyoming 1-4. Neutral Record: Boise State 0-1, Wyoming 0-0. Conference Record: Boise State 5-1, Wyoming 2-4. Series Record: Boise State leads, 8-0.
GAME NOTES: In charge of their own destiny in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference, the Boise State Broncos now set their sights on the Wyoming Cowboys at War Memorial Stadium on Saturday night.
Because the Broncos defeated Colorado State back in early September (37-24), they still have an opportunity to make it to the conference title game next month, even though the Rams are tied with them atop the standings at 5-1. Since being upset by Air Force back on Sept. 27 by a score of 28-14, the Broncos have rattled off five consecutive victories and are now 8-2 overall.
The team last took the field at home versus San Diego State and found itself trailing 20-0 before coming alive and defeating the Aztecs by a 38-29 margin on the blue turf.
As for the Cowboys, at 2-4 in conference play they are fifth in the division, ahead of only New Mexico heading into play this week. The Pokes have been resting since the first week of November when they were trounced by Utah State, 20-3, at home. The defeat was the fifth in six games for a program that will close out the season versus New Mexico next weekend in Albuquerque.
There is still an opportunity for Wyoming to become bowl eligible, but the team will have to win the final two games on the schedule to even be considered.
Boise State has yet to fall to the Cowboys after eight games, the most recent win for the Broncos coming at home last season in a 48-7 decision.
It wasn't pretty by any stretch, but somehow the Broncos found a way to overcome a 20-point deficit in the second quarter, the team's biggest home deficit in nearly a decade, and pulled out the nine-point win against San Diego State.
Running back Jay Ajayi rumbled for three straight touchdowns and picked up 134 yards on 31 carries for the Broncos as the team finished with 212 yards and four scores on 47 attempts. Quarterback Grant Hedrick overcame a couple of interceptions as he threw for 187 yards and a TD, rushing for another.
The BSU defense was tripped up by the efforts of Donnel Pumphrey who ran for a game-high 147 yards and scored twice, but down the stretch when time was of the essence, the Broncos didn't have to deal with the running back because he was kept mostly on the sidelines.
With Ajayi and Hedrick operating at full capacity, it should not come as a surprise to see that the BSU offense is 11th in the nation with 508.9 ypg. The passing attack has stepped up production with 300.1 ypg, but while Hedrick has connected on 71.4 percent of his attempts, he still has only four more TDs (17) than INTs (13).
One of the nation's leaders in yards from scrimmage, Ajayi seems to have overcome his habit of putting the ball on the turf by running for 128.0 ypg and scoring 17 TDs this season. For his career, Ajayi now has 39 rushing TDs which is third on the MWC's all-time list, two behind second-place Luke Staley of BYU.
Brian Hill has become the flavor of the month in Laramie, with the running back having strung together three straight games with at least 100 yards on the ground, but two of those games have ended in defeat. Obviously, the freshman runner made major waves with his record-breaking performance at Fresno State a few weeks back when he set the bar with 387 all-purpose yards, but this offense needs more than Hill to just bull his way around the field in order to be successful.
Hill is still second on the team in rushing overall with 574 yards, leading to four touchdowns, but a hand injury to running back Shaun Wick (705 yards, five TDs) could still keep him out of action this week.
Quarterback Colby Kirkegaard doesn't exactly set the world on fire with his passing (221,4 ypg, 11 TDs), but he is serviceable. One of the more puzzling issues facing the Wyoming offense is that of Dominic Rufran, the leading receiver with 37 catches for 495 yards who has yet to reach the end zone. His absence from the scoring column is one of the reasons why Wyoming ranks 107th nationally with just 20.9 ppg.
On the other side of the ball, the pass defense for the Cowboys is a bit shaky, not only permitting 234.6 ypg but also ranking 113th in the country in efficiency with a rating of 149.65. The squad has intercepted just two passes and both of those came from Tyran Finley in the lopsided win over Fresno State.
With so much riding on this and the final regular season game, the Broncos can not afford to let down their guard, even if they are playing an inferior team. Don't be surprised to see BSU take a few tricks out of the book in order to run out to an early lead and avoid having to play from behind.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 41, Wyoming 17
11/19 10:47:05 ET