WAC Fearless Predictions - Week 5

Posted Sep 22, 2006

Preview and predictions for the week five WAC games

Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico St | San Jose State | Utah State
- Past WAC Predictions: Week One | Week Two | Week Three
Week Four

How are the picks so far? SU 27-2   ATS 16-7

Week 5 WAC Predictions, Part 2 | Get Tickets for These Games

WAC Game of the Week

Boise State (4-0) at Utah (3-1)  3:00 PM EST  Saturday September 30th
Why to Watch: You could make a case that this will be the biggest game so far in the race for a BCS spot, and one that all the big bowls will keep a close eye on. Utah lost the season opener at UCLA but has been unreal since winning its last three games by a combined score of 131 to 14. If Kyle Whittingham's club can get by the Broncos and win next week's battle at home against TCU, it's smooth sailing, barring an upset, to a 10-1 record going into the BYU showdown. Boise State passed its first test against Oregon State with flying colors winning 42-14, and it survived and tougher-than-it-might-seem shootout with Hawaii last week. With all due respect to Fresno State and a season-ending road trip to Nevada, all that stands between new head coach Chris Petersen and an undefeated season is this trip to Salt Lake City. This is a BCS caliber game with the intensity level certain to be as high as any game this weekend.
Why Boise State Might Win: Yeah, Utah has blown up over the past few weeks, but it hasn't played anyone beating Northern Arizona, Utah State and San Diego State. The Ute offense has been opportunistic and efficient, and now it has to prove it can keep up the pace against a team with as much, if not more firepower. The Bronco lines are flattening everyone in their path with the offensive front five opening up mile-wide holes for speedy RB Ian Johnson, and the defensive front camping out in opposing backfields. Andrew Browning and the bunch dominated Oregon State's offensive line and has the potential to apply more pressure on Utah QB Brett Ratliff than he's seen all season, but ...
Why Utah Might Win: ... Utah has yet to allow a sack. Boise State showed some chinks in the armor over the last two games against Wyoming and Hawaii. The Warriors heated up in the second half and bombed away at will on the BSU secondary, while the Cowboy defense stiffened on just about every third down chance and didn't allow the Broncos to control the game. In its loss to UCLA, Utah had problems because Bruin QB Ben Olsen was ultra-efficient; the running game didn't go anywhere. Boise State QB Jared Zabransky can be a big play bomber, but he's not always the most efficient passer when the ground attack isn't working. If Utah can stop Ian Johnson, BSU will have a hard time scoring more than 21 points without manufacturing them from the defense or special teams.
Who to Watch: Johnson will be focus A, B, and C of the Utah defensive gameplan. The sophomore is third in the nation in rushing averaging 156 yards per game and 7.2 yards per pop with nine touchdowns. He's the type of gamebreaker who can be stopped seven times in a row, and then tear off a 79-yard touchdown run on the eighth carry. The main spy on both Johnson and Zabransky will by Utah's All-America safety Eric Weddle, who was all over the field last week against San Diego State with three interceptions taking two for touchdowns. Zabransky's not about throwing interceptions in big games, and he'll have to know where No. 32 is at all times.
What Will Happen: Boise State is the real deal with the best defense the program has had since going on its great run and would be the pick if this was played on the blue turf. Utah is too balanced and too talented on both sides of the ball to lose a home game this big. The winner of the battle of the Utah offensive line vs. the Boise State defensive line will with the game. 
CFN Prediction
: Utah 34 ... Boise State 27 ... Line: Utah -4.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 5

Idaho (1-3) at Utah State (0-4) 3:00 PM EST GamePlan Saturday September 30th
Why to Watch:  Even though these two have combined for one win in eight games, the winner will technically jump into first place in the WAC.  Well, tied for first, but a win rejuvenates one of these programs after awful starts.  Utah State hasn’t scored a point in three games, while Idaho was blanked last week against Oregon State 38–0.  The team that scores first may score enough to win the game.
Why Idaho Might Win:  The Vandals have faced Michigan State, Washington State and Oregon State in non-conference games, so going to Utah State is the perfect tonic in a game that finally fits Dennis Erikson’s team.  They’ll face a team that is ranked worse than 100th in every national statistical ranking and hasn’t scored an offensive touchdown all season long. 
Why Utah State Might Win:  Although the Aggies aren’t scoring, it’s not for a lack of production from running back Marcus Cross.  The junior from Houston has averaged 75 yards per game rushing and faces the 112th ranked rush defense in the country that’s giving up 200 yards per game. Cross should add the Vandals’ frustration stopping the run.
Who to Watch:  Idaho QB Steven Wichman has thrown one touchdown versus six interceptions through four games this season and was benched at Oregon State in favor of backup Brian Nooy in the second half.  Wichman will start in this game and must redeem himself for his play recently.  The only way that Idaho will keep Utah State in this game is if Wichman adds to his interception total.  His ability to play pitch and catch effectively with the guys in the white jerseys will determine the outcome of this game.
What Will Happen:  The Vandal defense will continue the frustration for the Utah State offense keeping it out of the end zone for fifth consecutive week.  The defense will hold Cross in check throughout the game and Wichman will do his part by keeping the ball away from the Aggies with an efficient, controlled passing game – no more four for 17 performances like last week

CFN Prediction
: Idaho 24   ... Utah State 10 ... Line: Idaho -2.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 1.5

San Diego State (0-3) at San Jose State (2-1) 6:00 PM EST  Saturday September 30th
Why to Watch:  The Chuck Long era at San Diego State has gotten off to a slow start with three consecutive losses, including last week’s 38-7 defeat at home to Utah.  On the opposite side of the momentum spectrum are the Spartans, who are seven points away from being undefeated in head coach Dick Tomey’s second year coming off a 17-7 win over a surprisingly tough Cal Poly squad.  In the final non-conference tilt for both teams, this game is vital to generate confidence moving into the heart of conference play.
Why San Diego State Might Win:  The Aztec secondary is among the best units in the nation, giving up only 155 yards per game through the air.  The nation’s 22nd ranked pass defense held UTEP’s high-flying passing attack to 213 yards, Wisconsin to 85 yards and Utah to 167.  The Aztec back four will make life rough for San Jose State QB Adam Tafralis, who had his least productive game of the season last week against Cal Poly and is prone to mistakes when he’s under pressure.
Why San Jose State Might Win:  Although the Aztec pass defense has played well, the run defense hasn’t been close giving up 170 yards a game.  That’s great news for San Jose State and RB Yonus Davis, who’s 25th in the nation in rushing averaging 99 yards per game.  His cat quick running style is difficult enough to harness, but if Tafralis can get hot, the Aztecs don’t have the answer from an offense that’ having a hard time generating drives, much less points.
Who to Watch:  SDSU RB Atiyyah Henderson filled in for injured RB Lynell Hamilton in last week’s game and ran for 98 yards on only 12 carries.  The Spartans possess one of the nation’s worst run defenses (107th in the nation – 188 yards per game), so Henderson has to become a playmaker and take the pressure off the nearly non-existent passing game.
What Will Happen:  When Tafralis plays well, San Jose State has too much offensive balance. San Diego State lacks the firepower in the passing game to compete in a track meet with Davis and crew.  Without injured QB Kevin O’Connell and now Hamilton, the Aztecs need to dominate on defense to win this game.  It won’t happen.

CFN Prediction
: San Jose State 23 ... San Diego State 21 ... Line: San Diego State -2.5
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 2

Louisiana Tech (1-2) at Clemson (3-1)  7:00 PM EST ESPNU Saturday September 30th
Why to Watch:  No team in the ACC is playing as well as a Clemson team coming off of the last minute win against FSU and a 52–7 drubbing of North Carolina last week at home.  The Tigers take on the Bulldogs before heading to Wake Forest to face what will likely be an undefeated Wake Forest Demon Deacons in a key ACC Atlantic Division battle.  The Bulldogs are in the midst of a murderous three game road trip traveling to Death Valley this week, one week after losing 45–14 at Texas A&M and with Boise State coming up next week.
Why Louisiana Tech Might Win:  The Bulldogs could catch the Tigers looking ahead to their showdown in Winston-Salem.  To do so, the Bulldogs must get a solid game out of QB Zac Champion to make up for what’ll likely be a struggling ground game.  He has averaged 223 passing yards per game, and his ability to move the football with the controlled passing game should keep the Tiger offense off the field.
Why Clemson Might Win:  They’re hot.  They’re physical.  They’re balanced.  The defense is nasty.  It’s a pretty simple deduction, really; the Tigers are hitting on all cylinders in every phase of the game.  The offense is third in the nation, averaging 42 points per game, and the defense has only given up 67 points on the season and half of those they gave up to Boston College in one game. 
Who to Watch:  The offense has been sensational the last three weeks and much of that credit goes to the Clemson offensive line.  The Tiger quintet is the foundation of the 18th best rushing offense in the nation.  However, this group can run block and pass protect equally well giving up only four sacks on the season. Their versatility provides offensive coordinator Rob Spence the opportunity to stay balanced with his play calling, giving the Bulldogs major problems on Saturday.
What Will Happen:  The Tigers’ balance on offense will be way too much for the Bulldogs to handle.  Expect another 450+ yard, 45 point afternoon as the team continues to improve.

CFN Prediction
: Clemson 45 ... Louisiana Tech 10 ... Line: Clemson -34
Must See Rating: (5 skip the birth of your first born - 1 Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip) ... 2

Week 5 WAC Predictions, Part 2