One sequence late in the second quarter at Reser Stadium exemplified Jeremy McNichols’ day.
Starting a drive from the Broncos’ 30-yard line, the junior running back broke through the line, cut right toward the sideline and broke tackles 20 yards downfield, ending with a 25-yard run. Offsetting penalties forced the down to be replayed.
Don’t think for a second McNichols needed a rest. He got the ball again, this time bouncing to his left, breaking a tackle, then down the sideline for a 70-yard touchdown run and a 28-7 lead.
“A lot of runs you don’t see a lot of space. It’s like you break one tackle and it’s, ‘All right, who’s next?’ ” McNichols said. “On that particular play, I broke one and was like, ‘Where’s the next guy?’ I didn’t see him, and it was ‘OK, let’s go.’ ”
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McNichols has established himself as one of the most productive backs in school history, scoring a rushing touchdown in all 15 games he’s started. On Saturday, he rushed 28 times for a career-high 208 yards and scored a career-high four TDs.
Before the game, Boise State coach Bryan Harsin joked with McNichols that he should be like The Hulk, using the, “You wouldn’t like me when I’m angry” line.
“He was awesome,” Harsin said. “The one thing I think you see in J-Mac ... is how much more physical he was. He got angry out there.”
McNichols scored on runs of 5, 6 and 70 yards, and added a 6-yard touchdown reception on a shovel pass from sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien. Seeing him find ways to rack up big plays and get in the end zone is a trickle-down effect, inspiring other offensive players.
“When you see J-Mac make a big play like that, it gets everyone going. Everyone’s kind of like, ‘Maybe it’s my turn to do this or my turn to do that,’ ” senior receiver Thomas Sperbeck said.
The last Boise State running back to go for 200 yards was Jay Ajayi on Nov. 29, 2014, against Utah State. That also was the last time a Bronco scored four touchdowns. McNichols has nine career games with 100 or more rushing yards, all in his past 11 appearances. He eclipsed the 200-yard plateau while putting the game away on the final drive with 26 yards on four carries.
“With his abilities, we should’ve taken the air out of the ball a little bit earlier in the game and put it in his hands,” Harsin said.