Broncos, Aggies square off for control of the Mountain Division
BOISE, Idaho – Winners of four-consecutive games, the Boise State football team will hit the road for the second-straight week, taking on Utah State in Logan, Utah, Friday (Oct. 16). Kick is set for 7 p.m. at Merlin Olsen Field, and the game will be nationally televised by CBS Sports Network.
The Broncos (5-1, 2-0 MW), ranked Nos. 21 and 20 in the AP and Coaches Polls, respectively, have outscored opponents 204-24 during their winning streak. The Aggies (3-2, 2-0 MW) have won each of their last two games since starting conference play.
CONFERENCE RECORD: Boise State is a national-best 108-10 (.915) in conference games since the start of the 2000 season.
SERIES HISTORY: Boise State is 15-4 all-time against Utah State, and has defeated the Aggies in each of the last 12 meetings. Six of the last seven games have been decided by at least 30 points, and all but one of the games during the 12-game win streak over Utah State has been decided by double figures — including 10 by at least 24 points.
Boise State is 7-2 in Logan, having won each of the last five road games. Th e Broncos’ last loss in the series came on the road, a 24-20 setback, Nov. 1, 1997, when the schools were in the Big West.
EXCEPTIONAL ON BOTH SIDES OF THE BALL: Through the games of Oct. 10, Boise State stands as the only team in the FBS to rank in the top 10 in both scoring offense and scoring defense, and in the top 20 in total offense and total defense. Th e Bronco offense ranks 10th in scoring offense (40.7 ppg) and seventh in scoring defense (12.0 opponents’ ppg), and is 19th in total offense (482.3 yards per game) and fifth in total defense (259.5 yards allowed per game).
For Thompson, the interception was the 18th of his career, putting him in a share of the all-time Mountain West lead with Eric Weddle. This year, the trio of Thompson (four picks) cornerback Donte Deayon (four) and Moxey (two) has contributed 10 of those 13 interceptions, which are tied for first in the country with West Virginia.
THOMPSON MAKES HISTORY: Safety Darian Thompson intercepted a Coleman Key pass in the first quarter of Saturday’s contest, not only giving him a team-best four in 2015 (along with Donte Deayon) but also tying him with Eric Weddle atop the all-time Mountain West interceptions list at 18. The total is also tied for third-best in Boise State history with Gabe Franklin (2001-04).
The interception also marked the third-straight game in which Thompson had picked off a pass, and for the year his four interceptions are tied for the sixth-most in the country, just two behind national leader Shawun Lurry of Northern Illinois.
The pick highlighted another great night for Thompson, a Jim Thorpe Award candidate for best defensive back in the nation, as he made five tackles (two solo) and forced a fumble which was recovered by the Broncos.
RUSHING DEFENSE AMONG THE BEST: Despite Colorado State rushing for 105 yards Saturday night, the Boise State rush defense remains one of the best in the country, allowing just 60.7 yards on the ground per game, second-best in the FBS.
THE TOUCHDOWN MACHINE: Sophomore Jeremy McNichols scored two touchdowns during his 104-yard performance on the ground Saturday night in Fort Collins, and in the process re-assumed the FBS lead in touchdowns scored (14), staying one ahead of Baylor’s Corey Coleman. McNichols’ two rushing scores also upped his touchdown total via the ground to 12.
The Boise State single-season record for rushing touchdowns is 28, set by Jay Ajayi last year, and the overall single-season mark for touchdowns scored is 32, shared by Ajayi (2014) and Brock Forsey (2002).
With 14 touchdowns through six games, McNichols is ahead of the paces of Ajayi (10 TDs through six games) and Forsey (10 TDs through six games) for total touchdowns, and with 12 rushing scores through six games is ahead of Ajayi’s 2014 pace (Ajayi had eight rushing TDs through the first six games).
WELL, SHANE WAS A GUNSLINGER: Like the title character of the same name from the classic 1953 Western, Boise State wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes played the role of gunslinger Saturday in Fort Collins, firing a 53-yard touchdown pass to Thomas Sperbeck. Th e pass attempt was the first of Williams-Rhodes’ career, and hit Sperbeck in stride down the sideline.
With the touchdown pass, Williams-Rhodes joins a memorable group of Bronco wide receivers turned passers, as Sperbeck is 4-for-9 with a touchdown in his career, and former Bronco wideout and current quality control staff er Matt Miller was 3-for-6 with a pair of touchdowns during his career.
WILLIAMS-RHODES CHASING HISTORY: Besides tossing touchdowns, Shane Williams-Rhodes was solid in his more familiar role of wide receiver as well Saturday, making seven catches for 52 yards. The seven catches brought his career total to 205, making him the fourth Boise State receiver to reach the 200-career reception mark. He also moved into third place on Boise State’s all-time receptions list, passing Titus Young (204). Williams-Rhodes now sits behind just two Bronco greats on the list: Austin Pettis (229) and all-time leader Matt Miller (244).
Williams-Rhodes, who caught 77 passes in 2013 and 68 a year ago, is currently among the Mountain West leaders with 35 receptions and, should the Broncos play 14 games just like in 2014, is on pace for 81 catches this season, which would make him the all-time Bronco leader at 251.