New Mexico Lobos Football – On The Mountain West Road
Saturday: 8:15 p.m. (MT) New Mexico Lobos at Boise State
On The Air: ESPN2; 770-AM KKOB/Lobo Radio Network
By Richard Stevens – Senior Writer/GoLobos.com
It has not been a typical Boise State season and not exactly a pleasing one for the Broncos. They expect a lot. They have been conditioned by excellence.
Oh, the Broncos will go bowling regardless of what happens in their final game of the regular season when Bob Davie’s Lobos come calling. Boise State is 7-4 with a bowl berth in hand.
But can they still punch their way into the 2013 Mountain West Championship game and maybe salvage a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl. The Broncos have grown accustomed to the higher levels of the postseason.
Of course, the Lobos might have a say in how the Broncos end the regular season. The Lobos are not going to Idaho to roll over. However, there is another Mountain West game that is critical to Bronco fortunes. They are a game behind Utah State in the Mountain Division of the MW and need the Wyoming Cowboys to go into Logan, Utah and pull a major upset.
Then – and only then – will a victory over New Mexico push Boise State into the Mountain West title game against Fresno State.
The Broncos are coming off a 34-31 overtime stunner at San Diego State. The SDSU Aztecs came from behind 21-14 and 28-21 to force overtime. It was a crushing loss for Boise State because the Broncos had an impressive 34-23 win at Utah State which looked like it might be enough to push the Broncos to the Mountain Division title and onto the MW title game.
The Aztecs messed up that ending. Now, Boise is 5-2 in MW play and Utah State is 6-1. Fresno State (7-0) will edge out San Diego State (6-1) for the West Division title.
The Broncos surely will be extremely motivated to beat the Lobos, if Wyoming beat Utah State. But this is a Boise State program that always strives to win. It is the winningest football program in the nation since 2000 with an overall mark of 154-25.
“This is a tremendous opportunity for young guys to see what it takes to compete at this level,” said Lobo Coach Bob Davie reflecting on the success of Boise State football.
The Broncos entered the 2013 season ranked No. 19 in both The Associated Press and USA Today Coaches poll. They no longer are receiving votes in either poll. The Broncos damaged their poll position by opening the season with a 38-6 loss at Washington. They were next clipped 41-40 at Fresno State, lost 37-20 in Provo, Utah to a solid Brigham Young team, and are coming off the loss at SDSU.
There is an obvious trend in these Broncos losses. They have come on the road. The Broncos are unblemished on their blue turf in Boise.
The Broncos are good and can be very good as seen in their 48-7 roll of Wyoming in Boise. They also beat Southern Mississippi 60-7 in Boise.
The Broncos’ season-ending goals are obvious: beat New Mexico, win whatever bowl they go to.
The Broncos are obviously talented. They also like to win on their blue turf. They are 85-4 at home since 2000. They have averaged around 40 points over that span and are averaging 38.2 points in 11 games this season. They give up 24.4 points and 149.0 yards rushing. They held SDSU to 61 yards on the ground this past Saturday.
The Broncos defense is pretty good. A major blow to Boise State this season was losing starting quarterback Joe Southwick to a broken ankle. Grant Hedrick took over the huddle. The junior does not have the arm of Southwick, but he is a better runner. You team him up with Jay Ajayi and the Broncos have a solid one-two punch out of the backfield.
Ajayi has 1,181 yards on the year and averages 107.4 a game with a 5.8 average per carry. Hedrick has 248 yards on 48 carries. Hedrick might be a better runner than Southwick, but Hedrick is not a bad thrower. He completes 69 percent of his passes – 122-of-177 with 12 scores and five interceptions. He averages 115.3 yards per game and threw for 202 yards and two scores at San Diego State. He was sacked four times.
Southwick (who could play Saturday) threw for 227 yards per game and completed 72.3 percent of his throws. He went down in the seventh game of the season.
The Broncos have two standout receivers in 5-foot-6 Shane Williams-Rhodes (77-for-702 yards) and 6-foot-3 Matt Miller (68-for-823 yards). Boise has a solid kicker in Dan Goodale (13-of-15 field goals), but he missed a 43-yarder in regulation at SDSU that could have kept the Broncos out of overtime.
The Broncos have the No. 2 scoring offense in the MW (38.2) just ahead of No. 3 New Mexico (34.2). The Broncos’ big edge comes on the defensive side. They are No. 2 in the MW in scoring defense (24.4) and No. 3 in rushing defense (149.0). UNM is last in the MW in total defense (523.8), last in rush defense (264) and last in scoring defense (42.5). UNM gave up 820 yards to Fresno State.
To simplify the Broncos, they are a good offensive team that can hurt you running or throwing. They are solid on defense and tough against the run. They usually don’t hurt themselves much with penalties or turnovers. They are good on special teams.
And they are playing on a blue turf where they have won .956 percent of their games over the past 14 season.