The first time Boise and Fresno met to play a little game of football this season, it was a bit of a fight. Fresno came in fired up, but Boise State was able to assert their will, get a couple of stops, be a little tricky, and win by 10. Fresno State was fired up to play here, and the game got a bit chippy. However, it’s been a long time since October 17th. Will Boise State completely overlook the championship game because of the fervor surrounding being named the Chosen One from the Group Of Five? Will they throw all their hard work and discipline out the window because of a Vizio on the horizon?
You’re right, Day-Day. That’s not the Bronco’s style. They are a singularly focused entity, a big blue machine spitting out big plays, massive yardage, and touchdowns. The team is clicking, led by Grant Hedrick, the most accurate QB in the country, and the force of nature known as Jay Ajayi. He is a top 3 running back right now, and just seems to get stronger and more elusive as the season progresses.
The J-Train is picking up steam.
Last time, Fresno did as good of a job as anybody has stopping Jay. He still got his yards, but it was one of his higher carry games. (30 on a season high of 33.) Fresno made him work. Boise State has progressed a bunch since mid-October, but what have the Bulldogs been up to since we last met? Oh you know. Losing to Wyoming and then beating everybody left on their schedule, including Nevada.
Wyoming ran roughshod over Fresno. Since then, they’ve done pretty well, with the exception of allowing SJSU to get 350 through the air. They are a team that is improving defensively, but is that a matter of talent and coaching, or playing SJSU, a demoralized Nevada team, and then Hawaii? Playing BSU again is a great gauge.
Offensively, Fresno is stabilizing their offensive output out at around 450 yards a game, evenly split between the run and the pass.
They were successful throwing against Nevada, but that game was a bit of a freak in that Nevada allowed more yardage than they had all season against everyone but Boise State. There isn’t much of a trend with their offensive performance, other than it’s becoming more consistent. Are they getting better? Are they getting worse? Another thing we’re going to have to find out on Saturday.
Fresno’s fanbase seems to just be happy to participate in the champ game again, and might have learned from Aggie fans mistakes and have so far refrained from poking the Bronco. That’s one trend that I do not expect to continue. Fresno fans will start coming out of the woodwork, talking about defending their championship…as the have the right to do. While they don’t have scoreboard or a shiny milk can anymore, they do have a MWC champ trophy from 2013 and a second date with a juggernaut. Fresno were the first WAC/MWC underdogs, and nothing would please them more than to come to our house 13 years after Boise State derailed their dream season and pay back the favor. The Bulldogs will be fired up, playing with lots of energy and emotion. Boise State eats teams like that alive.
It’s very likely that The Cities That Are Not A State According To Vandals Bowl is going to be a battle…for a while. I would anticipate that Boise State will pull ahead by 2 scores or so somewhere around halftime and then the blowout will be on. If we had to play anyone for this championship, Fresno is the best choice. So much history between the programs, so many similarities. Boise State is going to have to do nothing extra to get fired up, Fresno State, especially a Fresno State that ran a sad imitation of Statue on Hawaii last week, comes pre-loaded with vitriol.
This feels very strange to say, as someone who would’ve been incredibly happy at .500 this year, but Boise State is about to win themselves a ‘ship and go finish their money season out correctly. Coach Harsin and his dream team of assistants have gotten buy-in from not only his group of players, but from the entire fanbase. They have attacked the future, but honored the past and somehow made the old feel new again. The Broncos, everyone from the players on The Blue to the tiny kid up at the top of the stadium, screaming his lungs out in to the freezing night, have rallied around this team and this feeling that anything is possible. Goals are falling like dominos and the big daddy, the only future that truly exists right now is the MWC championship game and one more chance to Protect the Blue. Fresno won’t stop them. In front of the Bronco faithful, with the first outright championship on the line, I’m really not entirely convinced there is a team in the country that could.