Brian Murphy hands out the grades for Boise States 32-29 win over New Mexico
After a dismal performance against BYU, the Broncos offense responded with a strong day against New Mexico. Quarterback Joe Southwick was 7-of-10 on third down for seven first downs, and the Broncos scored three red-zone touchdowns, matching their production in the first three games. Southwick set career highs with 311 yards and three touchdowns. Tailbacks D.J. Harper (98 yards) and Jay Ajayi (118) gave Boise State great balance. Eight different players caught at least one pass. The Broncos only punted once and had just one turnover on offense, a fumble by freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes. Boise States offense has shown an ability to produce against lesser defenses, while struggling against superior units such as Michigan State and BYU. Fortunately for the Broncos, no more units like that remain on the schedule, so the young offense should be able to develop while also scoring points. Grade: B
New Mexico had six first-half possessions. The drives resulted in three punts, three fumbles and zero points. The Boise State defense, the same unit that dominated against BYU and kept the Broncos alive against Michigan State, appeared en route to a second straight overwhelming performance. And then halftime happened. New Mexico scored on touchdowns on its first four possessions after the break with the help of some good field position, but also on drives of 96 and 75 yards. LB Tommy Smith came up big on the Lobos final drive, stuffing New Mexico on third down and batting down a pass on fourth down. Most frustrating for the Broncos: New Mexico seemingly exploited the same issue over and over again with its triple-option offense. The Lobos threw just one pass in the entire second half, while rushing for 330 yards in the game. Boise States players said New Mexico modified its scheme at halftime and the Broncos had no answers until Smith came through. Those three forced fumbles in the first half (two by DT Mike Atkinson and one by DE Demarcus Lawrence) were huge. Grade: D+
The special teams woes continued. Dallas Burroughs fumbled the opening kickoff of the second half, igniting the New Mexico comeback. Kicker Michael Frisina was 1-of-2 on field goal attempts, making from 28 yards and missing from 44 yards. Frisina had enough leg on the try. The Broncos did control Lobo KR Chase Clayton, the nations top kickoff returner entering the game. Clayton had two returns for 30 yards and was knocked out of the game on a big hit by Blake Renaud. Grade: C-
The triple option is one of the toughest offenses to prepare for, especially in the middle of a season. The Broncos have had trouble against teams willing to commit to the run (see: Nevada, Air Force). New Mexicos coaches, to their credit, got the best of their Boise State counterparts on defense in the second half of the game. In tight games, there are always decisions that are up for second-guessing, like the choice to go for it on fourth-and-1 at the New Mexico 4 or kicking a 44-yard field goal late. Many fans were upset that Ajayi, who rushed for 118 yards on six first-half carries, didnt get any chances in the second half. Chris Petersen offered reasoned rationale for each of those moves and none were egregious decisions. The Broncos won. And they got better on third-down and in the red zone, areas where they specifically worked since the BYU game. Grade: C
In the polls
Boise State fell out of The Associated Press Top 25 and jumped into the USA Today Coaches Poll on Sunday after a 32-29 win at New Mexico. The Broncos are No. 25 in the USA Today poll. They had not been ranked by the coaches since losing to Michigan State in the season opener. The Broncos received 83 points, 18 more than Washington. They fell from No. 24 to 27th, in others receiving votes, in the AP poll. The Broncos had been No. 24 for two weeks. The Broncos received 53 points, far behind No. 25 UCLAs total of 122. Michigan State fell out of both polls.