Boise State faces quarterback dilemma prior to LA Bowl showdown against UCLA

Photo by Taya Power-Thornton

The Broncos are going bowling. 

For the 26th time in a row, Boise State qualified for a Bowl Game. This time around, the Broncos will square off against the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) in the LA Bowl.

The boys in blue haven’t lost in over a month, and have some time to rest up. After the win against UNLV, the Broncos have since acquired a new head coach in Spencer Danielson and lost their quarterback to the transfer portal.

The biggest story in this game comes from the quarterback position … again. In an ironic way, head coach Spencer Danielson is tasked with answering a question that’s become as much of a staple for the program as the Blue turf is: “who’s the starting quarterback this week?” 

With Taylen Green transferring to Arkansas and Maddux Madsen out with a MCL injury, the offense is left to decide between true freshman CJ Tiller and redshirt sophomore Colt Fulton.

Both quarterbacks have played in games this season, most notably Fulton who completed a pass to redshirt sophomore tight end Matt Lauter in the Wyoming game.

The Bronco coaching staff has kept the details regarding who will start confidential up to this point, likely to keep UCLA on their toes. 

Either way, there is very little collegiate film on both quarterback options, so the Bruins won’t know who or what to prepare for. This may play to Boise State’s advantage, especially early on in the game.

UCLA is dealing with their fair share of quarterback controversy as well. Freshman quarterback Dante Moore, who threw for 1,610 yards, 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions, entered the transfer portal last month.

Their quarterback room is a little bit better prepared for this situation however. Junior quarterback Ethan Garbers has had enough meaningful playing time this season, throwing for 984 yards, nine touchdowns and three interceptions.

Regardless of who the quarterback is, this could be a monster game for Boise State’s pass rushers. The Bruins offensive line has given up a whopping 42 sacks this year, which ranks 122nd in the nation.

Junior defensive end Ahmed Hassanein alone has 12.5 sacks, ranking sixth in the nation individually, while the defense as a whole ranks 17th in sacks.

The same would be true for the Bruins’ 6th ranked pass rush, however, their sack leader, Laiatu Latu, is skipping the game to prepare for the NFL draft. 

Sophomore running back Ashton Jeanty may be in for a rough game, as UCLA gives up an average of just 69.6 rushing yards per game. This statistic may not paint the whole picture, however.

The Bruins play in a very pass heavy conference this year, as five teams average over 300 yards per game, compared to the Southeastern Conference having two teams average over 300 passing yards or the Atlantic Coast Conference having one.

Their rush defense still ranks second in the nation, but without Latu, it may not be the same defensive front we’ve seen most of the season.

What will also play to Boise State’s advantage is the fact that UCLA has not won a bowl game in the six seasons Chip Kelly has been head coach.

As a matter of fact, if you were to compare the two coaches’ tenures (which isn’t really fair) Danielson is 3-0 with a conference championship and one bowl appearance to Kelly’s 34-34 record, no conference championships and on his second attempt at a bowl game victory.

It’s fun to compare the two, however their careers are truly incomparable. Boise State still hasn’t beaten a power five school since Hank Bachmeier led an 18-point comeback against Florida State in 2019.

This leaves a lot on the line, and a lot of opportunity, for the Broncos.

Winning the game would serve a huge boost to re-establish themselves as the giant killers they once were a decade ago.

The Bruins may not be a true “giant” at the moment, but looking back at the 2023 season and seeing a victory over a big California school in the rear view mirror would be a great way to enter the 2024 offseason.

The L.A. Bowl kicks off on Saturday, Dec. 16 at 5:30 p.m.

Score Prediction: 31-17 Boise State

This Post Has One Comment

  1. Bill Meyet

    Great review status for upcoming bowl game with UCLA!

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