When the Broncos have the ball
Third-down showdown: Boise State showed some improvement in last week’s victory over Hawaii, but still ranks among the nation’s worst teams in third-down offense, converting 36 percent of the time. Colorado State’s defense ranks eighth in third-down defense at 25.7 percent.
First quarter could be key: Boise State has only scored on its first drive of a game once this year, at Virginia. Still, the Broncos have managed to outscore opponents 58-14 in the first quarter (they’re best in the second quarter, with a 67-7 edge). Colorado State has outscored its opponents 57-10 in the first quarter this season.
Fifty-fifty-fifty: The Broncos have scored 50 points in three straight games for the first time since 2004 (2003 if you throw out an overtime game). The 2004 streak reached four games, but the last four-game streak in regulation was in 2002.
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When the Rams have the ball
A different look: The Rams still employ a more traditional rushing attack that uses two-back sets. That will provide a good test for the Broncos’ run defense, which ranks second nationally at 51.8 yards per game. Boise State could employ a three-linebacker defense like it did at Virginia.
Good vibes for WRs: Colorado State wide receivers Rashard Higgins and Joe Hansley have combined for 33 receptions against Boise State in their careers. Last year, the duo struck for 18 catches for 292 yards and one touchdown.
Fantastic depth: As expected, Boise State’s defense has made liberal use of its bench this season. The Broncos are playing 11 defensive linemen, four linebackers and two nickels in meaningful situations. Throw in the starting safeties and cornerbacks and that’s 21 guys getting regular playing time.
Wolpin emerges: Boise State sophomore tailback Ryan Wolpin, a walk-on, quietly has become one of the better special-teamers. He lines up next to kickoff-coverage dynamo Darren Lee. While some teams, like Hawaii, target Lee, Wolpin has been wreaking havoc.
Hunt helps Rams: Colorado State punter Hayden Hunt averages 46.8 yards per punt, which ranks ninth. One-third of his kicks have traveled at least 50 yards and 43 percent have stopped inside the opponent’s 20-yard line.
Rausa on a roll: Boise State junior kicker Tyler Rausa is 9-for-10 on field-goal attempts this season. His only miss was from 54 yards and it hit an upright. He has made six field goals in the past two games.
Kick-return funk: Boise State’s primary kick returners haven’t been able to get loose this season. Cornerback Donte Deayon has a long punt return of 16 yards. Tailback Jeremy McNichols has a long kickoff return of 29.