Dale Money | December 6th, 2019
Boise State hosts the Mountain West title for the third year in a row, having gone 1-1 against Fresno State on the past two occasions. After an 11-1 season, Boise currently sits 19th in the CFP Rankings. They come into this game not only looking to correct their failures of last year but also greatly improve their current Bowl chances.
A convincing win on Saturday could be enough to leapfrog No. 17 Memphis, which would give them an opportunity at perhaps a Cotton Bowl berth. Memphis and No. 20 Cincinnati will square off tomorrow afternoon in the AAC title matchup, so there is still a lot to be decided.
The Hawaii Warriors enter into this game on a high note, as their head coach Nick Rolovich was named Mountain West Coach of the Year this past week. Coming off an 8-6 season, as well as a loss in the Hawaii Bowl, Rolovich has done a masterful job turning the program around in just a year, getting them to 9-4 along with their first Mountain West title appearance since joining the Conference back in 2012.
Having rattled off four straight victories heading into this contest, the opportunity to play spoiler against the Broncos is certainly within grasp. Should they be able to win this game, it would be their first Conference title since winning the WAC back in 2010.
The game takes place on Saturday at 2:00 PM in Albertsons Stadium.
Boise State Broncos
I’m sure there are more than a few players on this club with a bit of a chip on their shoulders following the latest release of the College Football Playoff Rankings. After gutting out an accomplished one-loss season, this is the first time they went unbeaten in Mountain West play. But not really making a dent in the rankings last week will leave a mark, moving up just one spot.
Boise State Athletic Director Curt Apsey wasn’t shy to let his frustrations known with the latest College Football Playoff rankings and what he thinks is an absence of appreciation for the Mountain West Conference. “I think there’s a lack of respect for the conference we’re in right now,” Apsey told the media Wednesday.
With a very balanced offensive strategy, ranked 48th in rushing and 34th in passing, third-stringer Jaylon Henderson took over at quarterback three weeks ago following injuries to both Hank Bachmeier and Chase Cord and has done an admirable job in their absence. In these three games since taking over the reins, he’s thrown for eight touchdowns with just the one interception. In the win against Colorado State last week, Henderson hit on 72 percent of his passes.
He’ll lean on that running game spearheaded by George Holani. Holani ranks third currently in the Mountain West, needing just 88 yards to reach the 1,000 yards target. Holani gained 64 yards on only nine carries against Hawaii in October. Also, keep watch on John Hightower, it was in that game against the Warriors where he put up 141 yards with two touchdowns.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
For the Warriors, they come into the game with a bit of revenge on their minds. It was back in late October that they would lose out to Boise State 59-37. Cole McDonald showed up in the earlier contest throwing for three touchdowns along with zero interceptions. McDonald ranks second in the Mountain West in passing yards and is second on the team in rushing touchdowns. He’ll have his reliable group of receivers in Cedric Byrd ll, Jared Smart, JoJo Ward, and Jason-Matthew Sharsh.
The Rainbow Warriors are coming into this game against the Broncos with one of the best passing attacks in the country, ranked 12th overall. Known for their run and shoot attack, Hawaii’s effectiveness on the ground is not to be overlooked. With an average of 5.2 yards per carry and 248 yards per game.
They are led by running back Miles Reed who has run for at least 90 yards in three of his past five games. Reed will certainly have something to prove against Boise, it was in that previous contest, he ran for a minus-one yard on only three attempts.
We know how talented that run and shoot offense is, it’s the defense that needs to show up if they expect to give Boise State a run for their money. They’ve been pretty decent the past few games, holding UNLV and San Diego State to a combined 18 points. They’ll be facing a different quarterback from their previous meeting in October. While Henderson is the better dual-threat, compared to predecessors, his passing game isn’t as polished.
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