A classic No. 1 vs. No. 2 matchup to seize control of the Mountain West Conference takes place on The Blue this Saturday night when Boise State (7-1, 4-0, 1st MWC) hosts the Aztecs of San Diego State (6-3, 4-1, 2nd MWC). The Broncos look to jump in the driver’s seat in the conference and defeat the Aztecs for the second year in a row.
The Broncos are coming off a well-rounded performance vs. Wyoming last weekend as they left Laramie with a 45-14 victory over the Cowboys. The Broncos managed a very efficient offensive game headlined by another impressive showing from redshirt senior running back D.J. Harper as he ran for 105 yards and two touchdowns, bringing his career total to 34 and moving him to fifth on the Boise State all-time rushing touchdown list.
The Bronco defense once again showed up big, even though their first-half shutout streak came to a halt as Wyoming put up a touchdown in the second quarter and the Broncos will get all they can handle from a very fast and physical San Diego State squad this weekend.
The Aztecs are adjusting to life without senior quarterback and Oregon State transfer, Ryan Katz, as they lost Katz for the remainder of the season when he went down with a broken ankle two weeks ago in a 39-38 overtime win vs. Nevada. Sophomore quarterback Adam Dingwell has come in and filled Katz’s shoes with ease and the Aztec offense has not skipped a beat as Dingwell has gone 2-0 and thrown five touchdowns with just one interception.
The biggest offensive threat San Diego State brings to the table is their junior tight end, Gavin Escobar. Escobar leads the Aztecs in receiving this season with 30 receptions for 425 yards and five touchdowns. Senior defensive back Jamar Taylor knows that the Broncos shorthanded secondary will have their hands full with Escobar on Saturday night.
“Great hands, he can catch, he can get over defenders,” Taylor said, “all-around, probably one of the best tight ends we are going to face all year.”
On defense, the Aztecs present a confusing scheme full of constant movement to keep the opposing offense on its heels as they have held five opponents to 14 points or less this season.
“They do a lot on defense, they play pretty sound,” said redshirt junior quarterback Joe Southwick. “They have some players and a lot of team speed so we will have to prepare for all that.”
Head coach Chris Petersen knows the Aztecs’ confusing defensive schemes will present another challenge for his experience-young quarterback. “fvThey have that very confusing style and they are all over the place,” Coach Pete said.
The Aztecs head into Bronco Stadium for the first time this weekend, but a team that has good experience around a young quarterback has the potential to stun the shorthanded Broncos as the defense lost defensive back Bryan Douglas to an ACL injury and defensive back Lee Hightower, who has been suspended indefinitely for a violation of team rules. The Broncos are on a positive note however following another blowout victory and are looking to build off the momentum.
“San Diego State is going to come in prepared,” Southwick said. “But if we do our job, we should be fine.”
The Broncos kickoff vs. the Aztecs at 8:30 Saturday in Bronco Stadium as they look to pick up their fifth conference win and continue momentum into the home stretch of their season.