Boise State (11-1) will battle it out with Hawaii (9-4) Saturday, Dec. 7 for the Mountain West Championship, marking the third-consecutive year that the Broncos have hosted the game.
The Broncos are entering the game not only as division leaders, but undefeated in Mountain West play for the first time in program history. The Broncos secured this record last Friday with a 31-24 win against Colorado State University.
The Broncos are once again taking on the powerful offense of Hawaii after playing the Rainbow Warriors at home on Oct. 12 and winning 59-37. Hawaii has since continued to put up big numbers in the past few games, having gone undefeated since their 38-41 loss against Fresno State in week 9 of the season.
Hawaii’s most recent victory was a 52-31 win over Army. The Broncos’ defense will have their hands full once again in facing quarterback Cole McDonald, who went 19-29 with 250 yards against Army. Hawaii secured their berth in the championship game with a Week 11 win against San Diego State University.
Hawaii’s defense could be troubled with the Broncos’ offense during the championship. Quarterback Jaylon Henderson has been an offensive force since he got the call to start for the Broncos three games ago.
“All the guys have played this season,” said head coach Bryan Harsin of the quarterback room in a press conference. “It’s a different situation at the quarterback position this season and I’m very proud of Jaylon.”
Henderson has gone 3-0 since his first start against against New Mexico in which he led the Broncos to a 42-9 victory. Henderson, who has thrown for 820 yards in just five games and has only turned the ball over once, looks to be the driving force of the Broncos’ offense.
The Broncos gave up 37 points in their last meeting with Hawaii. Hawaii’s quarterback and receiver combo is still something that can trouble the Broncos’ defense. Receiver Cedric Byrd has put up over 1,000 yards and has scored 10 touchdowns this season. McDonald has put up over 3,400 yards and has thrown for 29 touchdowns.
These two players have arguably been the key to Hawaii’s success when the long ball is in play. For the Broncos, stopping Byrd will be essential to securing a win on Saturday.
Coming off of a win against Colorado State, the Broncos have already begun to focus on the task ahead this weekend.
“They got themselves in order and back to work on Sunday,” Harsin said in a press conference on Monday. “I thought the focus was great and that’s been the message this week.”
This game is all about keeping the momentum up on both sides of the ball for the Broncos who will be very active against Hawaii’s high-scoring offense.
“You’ve got offensive guys always pumping us up,” said junior STUD Curtis Weaver in a post-game press conference against Colorado.
Weaver will be looking to add more sacks to his already program-breaking record and is looking to make it very difficult for the Hawaii offensive line and causing trouble in the backfield.
Giving up a lot of points to the deep ball is something that the Broncos struggled with in the early part of the season, as well as in their last meeting with Hawaii. Careless penalties and lack luster defending that also seemed to be a problem for the defensive line has seemed to have gotten under control in these last three games, which has featured the Broncos only giving up 250 yards.
“We just stuck to our own and came out with the W,” said sophomore wide receiver Khalil Shakir after beating Colorado State.
Shakir is looking to keep his momentum going and be a deep ball threat for Henderson who has targeted him seven times for over 100 yards.
The Mountain West Championship game will take place at Albertsons Stadium on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 2:00 p.m. M.S.T. This game can be viewed on ESPN.