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Scouting Boise State: Broncos still searching for consistency

October 5, 2017

Location: Boise, Idaho

Facilities: Albertson’s Stadium (36,387 capacity)

Coach: Bryan Harsin (5th season, 33-11 overall)

2016 Record: 10-3, 6-2 MWC West)

2017 Ranking: None

Series: Boise State leads the overall series 5-2. … Last season, the Broncos blocked a BYU field goal in the final seconds to preserve a 28-27 victory. … BYU’s last win in the series was in 2015, 35-24 in Provo.

What’s the big deal? Neither team is where they thought they would be at this time. The Cougars are 1-4 and will start, according to head coach Kalani Sitake, one of six players at quarterback on Saturday — Tanner Mangum, Beau Hoge, Koy Detmer Jr., Austin Kafentzis, Joe Critchlow or Kody Wilstead. That should be interesting.

Boise State is 2-2 with an odd sort of up and down season so far. The Broncos beat Troy, which beat LSU, which trounced BYU in week 2 — there’s that darned transitive property thing again — but Boise State blew a 21-point fourth-quarter lead to Washington State and were embarrassed at home two weeks ago against Bronco Mendenhall’s Virginia team.

The past two BYU-Boise State games have been wildly entertaining and decided in the final minute. With the Cougar struggles, a late-night Friday game might not be a sellout and could diminish the home-field advantage. Eight games remain and a brutal road trip to Starkville against Mississippi State looms. BYU could use a little home-field magic to get back on track and keep its dwindling bowl hopes alive.

Numbers to ponder

The home team has won the past five games in this series. … Boise State is the second team to face BYU this year coming off a bye week. … For the third time in as many games, the opposing coaches are each coaching their alma mater — Sitake at BYU and Bryan Harsin at Boise State.

He said it

“I cannot stand them. There’s some pent-up aggression there. I hate to say it, but if Boise State lost each game, as long as they beat the crap out of BYU, I’d be happy.” — Former Boise State defensive tackle Elliot Hoyte.

What you need to know about the Broncos

Boise State has had a couple of weeks to think about the 42-23 loss at home to Virginia and have put the bye week to use for adjustments and improvement.

The Broncos have a quarterback quandary of their own with returning starter Brett Rypien the better passer but Kansas transfer Montell Cozart a dual threat who will likely get a series or two against BYU. The Boise State offense has been stuck in first gear, currently ranked 100th in the country in total offense. The Broncos run game has been especially anemic, averaging just 117 yards per game. But they are still a chunk play offense and wide receiver Cedrick Wilson is a game-breaker.

Defensively, BSU is giving up 29 points per game (86th) but is No. 44 in total defense (346.8 yards per game). This isn’t one of the best teams the Broncos have fielded lately, but a win against BYU on the road would be a big step in the right direction.

Harsin’s Final Word

“We were on purpose working on some different things and trying some new things. That’s always the test and tune time, during the bye week. You want to do it and see if we’re heading in the right direction, and I thought we were. The bottom line is we know we’ve got to be better. So the things that we’ve tweaked and made adjustments on, the execution behind it needs to show up.”