9:00 PM EST, ESPN2 – Line: Boise State -11, Over/Under: 55.5
A pair of teams coming off of two very different Season Openers meet on the blue turf of Albertsons Stadium, as the No. 24 Boise State Broncos play host to the Marshall Thundering Herd. Season Openers can oftentimes turn into a glorified walkthrough depending on who is scheduled, which was precisely the case for Marshall (1-0, 0-0 in Conference USA), who began 2019 with a lopsided 56-17 victory over the Virginia Military Institute. Indeed, the Herd went about their business early and often in this one, carrying a 35-7 lead into Halftime, with a 50-Yard Touchdown courtesy of VMI being the only resistance in what was a series of scoring drives. Doc Holliday’s charges finally let their foot up off the gas heading into the Fourth Quarter, in which they’d already dominated the affair; when it was all said and done, the hosts had racked up a whopping Thirty-Five First Downs, 620 Total Yards of Offense, including 280 on the ground and another 340 through the air, and probably would have scored even more points had it not been for a pair of Turnovers halting their continuous progress downfield. As you could imagine with a team that ran the football forty-six times, plenty of players got into the act, with Tailbacks, Tyler King (10 CAR, 75 YDS), Brenden Knox (10 CAR, 43 YDS, 2 TD), and Sheldon Evans (7 CAR, 56 YDS) impressing when toting the rock, while Quarterback, Isaiah Green (8 CAR, 46 YDS) played his part as well. However, the Sophomore Signal-Caller was fantastic when throwing the football, completing 18-of-28 Passes for 238 Yards, a career-high Four Touchdowns and an Interception, torching the opposing Defense with scoring strikes of Twenty-Nine, Fifty-One, and Thirty-Three Yards. As a Redshirt Freshman in 2018, Green was predictably erratic in the Pocket, completing just 56.7% of his Attempts for an average of 245.9 Yards per Game on 7.5 Yards per Attempt, with Fifteen Touchdowns in comparison to Ten Interceptions. If he can continue to exhibit a greater control of the Offense coupled with better decision-making, then this unit could absolutely improve upon last year’s incarnation, which posted nearly 400 Total Yards per Game (393.3 Y/G). Also of note, Freshman Receiver, Corey Gammage, made an impact in his first outing as a member of the Herd, hauling in Five Receptions for Eighty-Two Yards and a Touchdown. At 6-4, the Underclassman presents a huge target for Green to utilize, particularly in the Red Zone. He’ll be expected to replace Tyre Brady, who ranked Fourth in Conference USA in Receiving Yards in 2018 (1,002) and Second in the league in receiving Touchdowns (9). A Defense that returns many of their number from 2018 performed as expected, limiting VMI to just 257 Yards of Total Offense, including a scant Fifty-Six Rushing Yards on Twenty-Seven Carries. Last season, Holliday’s troops yielded an average of 21.8 Points (27th Overall) on 338.7 Total Yards, including 104.2 Yards on the ground, with the opposition averaging just 3.0 Yards per Carry. Returning from that group are Defensive End, Channing Hames (45 TKL, 12.5 TFL, 7.5 SK in 2018), Safety, Nazeeh Johnson (59 TKL, 1.0 TFL, 1 INT, 5 PD in 2018), and Linebacker Tyler Brown, who will be expected to replace the presence of Jaquan Yulee, who unfortunately suffered a season-ending neck injury in the victory over VMI. Marshall will look to start the season 2-0 for just the second time since 2014, in which they won their first eleven games of the season en route to a school record thirteen wins.
Meanwhile, though Boise State (1-0, 0-0 in Mountain West) also began their 2019 campaign with a victory, they took a very different route in comparison to their opponent tonight, traveling across the country to Tallahassee, where they pulled the biggest upset of the weekend, a shocking 36-31 win over Florida State. Granted, the Seminoles may not resemble the powerhouse that they’ve been in the past, but the circumstances that led to this triumph for the Broncos are nonetheless noteworthy. First and foremost, the contest itself was initially intended to take place in Jacksonville, but was quickly moved to Doak Campbell Stadium in Tallahassee due to the looming presence of Hurricane Dorian. Furthermore, the conditions were still a challenge of their own, with temperatures over 100 degrees and the humidity unlike anything the climate Boise, Idaho has to offer. Then there is the fact that Harsin ended up starting a True Freshman at Quarterback, Hank Bachmeier, who in the early stages of the affair looked like he was heading towards a humbling experience; the young Signal-Caller was sacked five times and hurried on eight other occasions in the Frist Half, with the visiting Broncos trailing by as many as eighteen points early in the second Half. And that’s when it happened, folks, as Boise State did what they’ve done so many times in the past, and that’s topple one of the nation’s powers. Harsin’s charges went on to score the final twenty-three points of the game, largely on the strength of his young Quarterback, who transformed into a seasoned veteran over the final thirty minutes of play; Bachmeier completed 30-of-51 Passes for a staggering 407 Yards and a Touchdown, a school record for a first-time Starting Quarterback. The kid really made his mark on Third Down, where he carved up the Seminoles’ Defense on 8-of-12 Passing for 136 Yards, with all eight of his completions resulting in a First Down. The victory marked the sixth time since 2014 that the Broncos had beaten an opponent from a Power Five Conference since 2014. When it was all said and done, the visitors had amassed a whopping 621 Yards of Total Offense on 108 Total Plays, with 214 Yards coming on the ground. Furthermore, their Fifty-Seven Carries were the second-most in school history, and just two shy of the record set back in 2015. Tailbacks Robert Mahone (24 CAR, 142 YDS, 2 TD) and George Haloni (14 CAR, 70 YDS) were workhorses in the sweltering Florida heat, combining for 212 Yards and a pair of scores, with each rusher averaging 5.0 Yards per Carry or more. Junior Receiver, C.T. Thomas, was a big-play machine for the Broncos, reeling in Five Receptions for 103 Yards, as he looks to build upon the Forty-One Catches, 535 Yards, and Three Touchdowns he accumulated last season. Credit also goes to a Defense that shut out Florida State in the Second Half, relegating the hosts to a scant Sixty-Eight Yards over the final thirty minutes, and just Ninety-Nine Rushing Yards on Twenty-Eight Carries overall. They also racked up Four Sacks, and a pair of Fumbles, with Junior Safety, Kekaula Kaniho (40 TKL, 3.0 TFL, 1.0 SK, 3 INT, 4 PD in 2018), posting Six Tackles, Four for Loss, a Sack, and a Forced Fumble. Boise State will be looking to start off 2-0 for just the second time in the past four years.