The Boise State offense got off to a hot start and did not let up, scoring touchdowns on five of its first seven drives in the game.
“They absolutely came out and took it to us right off the bat,” CSU coach Jim McElwain said. “I feel like we missed a couple things in the run game up front early, and that’s disappointing.”
After the Rams punted on their first drive of the game, Boise State running back DJ Harper rushed for an 80-yard touchdown on the Broncos’ first offensive play from scrimmage. That turned out to be a sign of things to come.
Broncos starting quarterback Joe Southwick managed the game effectively, completing 17 of his first 20 passes for 216 yards and two touchdowns, before allowing backup Grant Hedrick to enter the game.
The running game, however, allowed Boise State to manhandle CSU throughout the game.
The Broncos rushed for a total of 260 yards and four touchdowns behind Harper’s 107 yards and two touchdowns.
“I think when you can run the ball, things get a lot easier,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “They were trying to stop the run, they were putting a lot of guys in there, but we were still finding some creases, and Joe was really efficient. I think the combination of those two things makes for a good offense.”
While the Boise State offense had its way with the Rams’ defense, CSU struggled to get anything going against the leading defense in the Mountain West Conference, managing only 72 yards through the air in the game.
Senior M.J. McPeek started at quarterback in the game for the Rams, replacing redshirt freshman Conner Smith, who had started in the previous three games. The decision to start McPeek came from McElwain, who said he made the decision because of how well McPeek performed in practice this week.
After McPeek struggled, throwing for just 19 yards and two interceptions in the first half, Smith started in the second half.
Down 35-0 at the start of the second half, Smith and the Rams’ offense continued to labor, while limping to the finish of another double-digit loss; the eight of the season for the Rams.
One of the few bright spots in the game for the Rams was running back Chris Nwoke, who rushed for 119 yards and a touchdown in the game. It was Nwoke’s highest single-game rushing total this season.
The victory for Boise State moves the Broncos’ record to 9-2, and moves them one step closer to a seventh straight season of notching 10 or more wins under Petersen ahead of their season finale in two weeks against Nevada. It also allowed the Broncos to send out seniors like Harper on a high note in their final home game of their career.
“It was emotional. It’s kind of hard to put into words,” Harper said. “Obviously, I teared up a little bit running out the tunnel and seeing my family down there, telling me how proud of me they are. It just meant a lot to me.”
The loss for the Rams drops their record to 3-8 as the Rams try to avoid a fourth straight 3-9 season. They close the season next week against New Mexico at home.
Moving forward, the Rams would like to take the lessons they’ve learned from the successes of the Boise State and incorporate them into the program McElwain is trying to build at CSU.
“I think this could be a great lesson to take from a team like this,” McElwain said. “How they approach everything they do, and the importance of it. I think there are some great lessons out there, and that’s what we’ll teach from.”
Football Beat Reporter Andrew Schaller can be reached at email@example.com.