When the Broncos have the ball
McNichols’ status: Boise State sophomore tailback Jeremy McNichols left last week’s game after a helmet-to-helmet hit and didn’t return. Coach Bryan Harsin didn’t provide an update on his status this week. McNichols leads the nation with 14 touchdowns this season. If he can’t go, senior Kelsey Young likely will get his first extended run in the Broncos’ backfield.
Deja vu? Boise State beat Utah State 50-19 last year thanks to the ground game. Jay Ajayi, now of the Miami Dolphins, produced 229 of the Broncos’ 283 rushing yards and scored five touchdowns. The Aggies have been stout against the run this year, allowing 102.2 yards per game and 2.8 yards per carry.
What’s next? The Broncos ran a fake-fumble play for a touchdown two weeks ago and let wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes throw the first pass of his career for a touchdown last week.
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When the Aggies have the ball
First dual threat: Utah State sophomore Kent Myers is the first dual-threat quarterback the Broncos have faced this season. They have had problems with scrambling quarterbacks and have missed many tackles on quarterbacks this season. If Myers gets loose — he gained 65 yards on eight rushing attempts in last year’s game — the Aggies’ multiple run game could find some breathing room. “There’s a lot of explosive run plays when you turn on the film,” Boise State linebackers coach Andy Avalos said.
Second-half shutdown: The Broncos haven’t allowed a second-half point during their four-game win streak against Idaho State, Virginia, Hawaii and Colorado State. Those opponents combined for 24 points overall, or six per game. BYU scored 28 points in the second half in Boise State’s only loss this season.
Rausa’s range: Boise State junior kicker Tyler Rausa has missed field-goal attempts from 54 and 55 yards, but he showed plenty of leg to kick from there — and perhaps from 60-plus. Coach Bryan Harsin has complimented Rausa on his aggressive approach to those kicks, so he doesn’t seem shy about trying again. Rausa is 11-for-11 on attempts from 51 yards and in, including eight makes in the past three games.
Getting close now ... The Broncos haven’t hit a meaningful kick return yet this season. Punt returner Donte Deayon’s long return last week was wiped out by a holding penalty at the line of scrimmage. It was the latest sign that the Broncos are close to a breakthrough.
Two-kicker system: Utah State has utilized two kickers for field goals this season. Brock Warren is 5-for-5 on tries from 40 yards and in; Jake Thompson nailed his only attempt, a 48-yarder.