Week 4 - BYU at Boise State

Posted Sep 20, 2012

Week 4 CFN Fearless Prediction – BYU at Boise State

BYU (2-1) at Boise State (1-1) Sept. 22, 9:00, ESPN

Here's The Deal: It Boise State going to soon be Boise State again? The hope of making a run to a BCS spot died in the opening week loss to Michigan State, and the follow up against Miami University wasn't exactly vintage Broncos. The offense moved the ball up and down the field, but it wasn't the sort of brutal home stomping the team has been so great at applying over the last decade. The luster is off this week after BYU lost to Utah, but it's still a chance to make a bit of a national statement – at least to those not interested in the Thursday night NFL game – in what should be one of the only real tests left. Fresno State could be a battle, and going to Nevada to finish things off will be a fight, but this might be it. Win this, and 11-1 is on the radar.

At least Boise State has the Mountain West title to play for. BYU's fun is done after a wild and wacky loss to Utah with a late rally and a strange finish – complete with a game-tying field goal attempt going off the upright – but a win over the Broncos on the road would change the season back around in a hurry. There are plenty of big games left in the spotlight, but battles with Notre Dame, Georgia Tech and Oregon State won't mean too much if there's another high-profile loss.

Why BYU Might Win: The run defense has been terrific over the first three weeks. Granted, playing Washington State and holding the Mike Leach attack to -5 yards, and coming up with six sacks against Weber State helped the stats, but the front seven really is nasty against the run holding the John White-less Utes to 49 yards. It's an active and aggressive group that should be able to give D.J. Harper and the Boise State running game the same problems it had against Michigan State. On the other side of the ball, the Broncos aren't getting behind the line enough, and they probably won't against a strong Cougar offensive front.

Why Boise State Might Win: The Cougar offense didn't work against Utah with the passing game doing absolutely nothing until the final last gasp drive. Cody Hoffman caught a late 47-yarder, but no one else caught a pass of more than nine yards. The Boise State defense might have been blasted by Le'Veon Bell and Michigan State in the opener, but it picked off Andrew Maxwell three times and kept the Miami short-to-midrange passing game under wraps. BYU isn't going to explode offensively and has to take advantage of every scoring opportunity, but kicker Riley Stephenson has to show he can be consistent after missing the field goal that would've forced overtime last week and missing an attempt in the opener against Wazzu.

What To Watch Out For: While he's not Doug Martin, D.J. Harper showed last week he's ready to use his flash to be the main man for the Boise State ground game on a regular basis. The senior was bottled up by Michigan State, but he came out roaring against Miami University with 162 yards and three scores on just 16 carries, and taking a pass 21 yards for a score. BYU's has a bit of a running game of its own with the steady production from junior Michael Alisa, a nice banger who has rushed for 54, 53 and 56 yards to start the season. He's not going to be a workhorse, but he has been good enough to take the heat off Nelson and the passing game.

What Will Happen: Boise State won't explode or dominate like everyone is used to, but the offense will be balanced and the defense will be strong enough to keep the BYU passing game from keeping up.

CFN Prediction: Boise State 27 … BYU 20
ATS Consultants Line (Click for more lines and picks) Boise State -7.5 O/U: 48
Must Watch Rating (5 – Ray Lewis: A Football Life, 1 – Frankenweenie): 3