Five reasons Boise State may win:
[Katie O’Keefe] The Broncos aren’t used to losing, especially in October. Last week’s game against BYU was Boise State’s first loss in October since 2001, snapping a 50 game win streak in that month. McElwain expects the Broncos to come to Fort Collins “licking their chops,” hungry to get back to their winning ways, which may not bode well for CSU as the target.
[KO] Despite posting only three points on the board in the first half against BYU, history favors the Broncos when it comes to playing CSU. In the last two seasons they have outscored the Rams 105-27. Last season they held CSU without a single point in the first half while they put up 35 points in the first two quarters.
[Cali Rastrelli] Jay Ajayi. Boise’s sophomore running back has been prancing around defenses all season. He averages 114.6 rushing ypg, and has racked up 917 yards and 12 touchdowns this season. In last week’s loss to BYU, Ajayi ran for 151 rushing yards. The Broncos have been able to count on him to post an average of nine points on the board each game. He will definitely keep the CSU defensive line busy.
[CR] Boise might as well be renamed sack-city. Their 2.5 sacks-per-game average puts them in the No. 2 slot in the Mountain West. The CSU offensive line has been extremely consistent this season protecting Garrett Grayson, with a 1.1 sacks-allowed average. Boise’s junior defensive end Demarcus Lawrence will be the Rams ultimate test. He averages 1.1 sacks and 1.6 tackles for loss each game. Weston Richburg and the rest of the O-line may have met their match.
[CR] Boise has a plethora of receivers handy. They have five with double-digit receptions, and six with at least one touchdown. Coupling that with Ajayi’s fast-feet means the CSU defense will barely have time to catch their breath. Before the Border War, Mac told his team that the only way to beat a good offense is to keep them off of the field with your own offense – that advice will come in handy on Saturday.
Five reasons CSU may win:
[KO] Boise State owns a 2-0 record vs. CSU, beating the Rams 63-13 in 2011 and 42-14 last season. McElwain said this week that the question is whether or not his team will play scared knowing what Boise has done to them. Winning their past two games in a row, though, has given the Rams more confidence which they will need to display from the start to stay competitive with Boise State.
[KO] The Rams have forced seven turnovers in their last two games while Boise State has forced zero. The Rams will have a shot if they can win the turnover battle.
[KO] Home-field advantage. Even though the Rams lost 63-13 in Fort Collins two years ago against the Broncos, this is a different team and people are noticing which means there could be more people in the stands on Saturday. McElwain has personally helped distribute tickets to students on campus this week and if screaming Ram fans fill the stands, CSU could benefit from home-field advantage.
[CR] Max Morgan has had a heck of a season, and he doesn’t plan on letting up anytime soon. With 75 tackles, four pass breakups, a forced fumble and a touchdown through eight games; Morgan is just getting started. CSU’s last two big losses to Boise don’t affect him; he’ll come ready to play.
[CR] Vince Lombardi said “Winning isn’t everything, but wanting to win is.” If they have nothing else, the Rams have want. They are poised to go to a Bowl game for the first time in five years; to be Mountain West Conference champions for the first time since 2002. All this is at stake leading into the biggest month for college football against their biggest opponent in the conference; the same opponent who has embarrassed them two years in a row. Bet your bottom-dollar it’s gonna be a good show.
When it gets down to it…
Rastrelli’s pick: CSU 34 BSU 28
O’Keefe’s pick: BSU 41 CSU 38Football Beat Reporters Cali Rastrelli & Katie O’Keefe can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow them on Twitter @c_rasta5 & @KatieLOK