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27 December 2005

Day Before MPC Computers Bowl

Boise State finished the regular season 9-3, and indeed, they lost Dan Hawkins (and most of his staff) to Colorado, although he'll be coaching for the bowl game against Boston College.

Boston College will likely run a conservative offense, a vanilla-flavored ball-control game: short slants, screens, and corner patterns in the passing game, and a tough, between-the-tackles running game, all to take advantage of their offensive line strength and to minimize the opportunities for turn-overs. The one open-ended question for their offense will be how frequently will they try to go for a deep pass against the vulnerable BSU secondary. The plan will be to keep the BSU offense off the field and to wear down the Boise defense.

So much will depend on first downs defensively for Boise State. I imagine the secondary will be told to be especially agressive, as they were in the Bowling Green State game. Boston College has one really great wide receiver, but otherwise a not-so-intimidating corps of receivers and tight ends. Boston College also has a good, but not great, quarterback in Matt Ryan. If the Broncos can break up the occasional first-down pass, or stuff that first-down run, it'll force Boston's hand. The Broncos did face an even more daunting offensive line against Georgia, and aside from D.J. Shockley getting big runs on scrambles, the defense did hold back the Georgia running game.

Offensively for the Broncos, it mostly hinges on what kind of game Zabransky plays. Boston's rush defense is notoriously sound, and BC has a reputation for giving up precious few touchdowns, period. I am thinking Z will play the game loose, be encouraged to run, with the passing game to be controlled. Very likely that BC will adopt a Georgia strategy of laying off the blitzes, holding back the linebackers, and inviting Z to throw. Z doesn't have to throw deep, but some nice 20 yard passes will be necessary to spread out the defense so that the running game can kick into gear.

The one little trick is that Tharp, the second string quarterback for BSU, will get the first drive of the second quarter; this is what Louisville did all last year with Brian Brohm. Tharp presents a deep ball threat, and just this one public adjustment may be an attempt to give BC just one more headache in their game preparations.

The home field advantage will be huge: I really didn't appreciate how Bronco stadium can rock until I went to the Wyoming game a couple of years back and at last year's MPC Computers bowl. In the end, I see Boston College's offense stalling, and BSU will get enough offense going to win by 10.

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