Boise State Football

Boise State football: Breaking bad habits in Albuquerque

Coach Harsin talks about the Broncos win at New Mexico

Boise State defeated New Mexico 49-21 Friday Oct. 7, 2106, going 5-0, 2-0 in the Mountain West Conference.
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Boise State defeated New Mexico 49-21 Friday Oct. 7, 2106, going 5-0, 2-0 in the Mountain West Conference.

Though Boise State is trying to downplay the revenge factor in games this season, this football team sure is good at it.

Facing New Mexico on Friday night for the first time since losing to the Lobos at Albertsons Stadium on Nov. 14, 2015, it took the No. 19 Broncos a few minutes to get acclimated at University Stadium.

Once they did, the home team didn’t stand a chance.

Boise State routed New Mexico 49-21, scoring on seven straight possessions after starting the game with a three-and-out.

“It does feel good to get the win against anybody, but it feels a little bit better especially because they beat us last year,” senior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck said.

Boise State made the New Mexico defense look lost with its pair of big-play receivers in Sperbeck and junior Cedrick Wilson, thrown to by an inspired quarterback in sophomore Brett Rypien.

Rypien, whose grandmother died Sunday, had two incompletions on his first drive. He responded with one of his best games, throwing for 391 yards and five touchdowns after completing 21 of his next 26 passes.

Sperbeck had nine catches for 198 yards and scored touchdowns of 54 and 35 yards in the second quarter, while Wilson had nine catches for 167 yards, scoring three touchdowns.

“They were hungry tonight, we probably could have cut them loose and had more,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “They were operating, and that show could have went on throughout the night.”

In Sperbeck and Wilson, the Broncos (5-0, 2-0 Mountain West) had their first tandem of receivers go for more than 150 yards in the same game for the third time, and the first since Lawrence Bady and Jerry Smith did it against SMU on Oct. 18, 2003.

It was an advantageous matchup for the Broncos, who were facing a New Mexico defense keen on playing man-to-man outside and bringing up its safeties to stop the run.

“We knew if we had the time to throw, we could run by them,” Sperbeck said.

Said New Mexico coach Bob Davie: “It was what I was most afraid of, that we couldn’t cover them. That was the concern coming in.”

The other side of the ball also made sure last year’s struggle against the Lobos (2-3, 1-1) was avenged. Last week, the Broncos defeated Utah State 21-10 in their rematch after losing to the Aggies in 2015. The defense allowed only 4-of-19 third downs to be converted in that game; the Lobos converted 6-of-16 on Friday.

The Broncos all night handled the option — an offense that has frustrated the defense in the recent past. The Lobos produced a bit of a threat in the first quarter when running back Tyrone Owens went untouched on a 62-yard touchdown to tie the game 7-7. The Lobos never got further than 5 yards inside Boise State territory the rest of the first half.

Outside of Owens’ long run, the Broncos’ longest play allowed was a 37-yard run. They allowed five plays of 40 yards or more in both of their previous meetings with New Mexico.

“It’s like a fight. When someone loses a fight, they always want to have a rematch, right?” Harsin said. “This was a chance to go back out there and have an opportunity to go play a team that beat us. Those guys certainly know some of the things that showed up from last season.

“Our guys were aware, coming into the game, in their own minds, how they wanted to play.”

Said senior linebacker Tanner Vallejo: “I think it comes down to not underestimating teams. I think in the past we might have underestimated a team or two looking forward to ‘bigger’ games.’’

Boise State quickly responded after Owens’ score with Wilson’s 53-yard touchdown catch from Rypien on a perfectly-placed strike down the left sideline that put the Broncos up for good with 3:37 left in the first quarter. Junior running back Jeremy McNichols added the first of his two touchdown runs 59 seconds into the second quarter for a 14-point lead.

Rypien and Sperbeck blew it open with seven completions for 169 yards in the second quarter, including two touchdowns that led to a 42-7 halftime lead.

The starters were out of the game by the end of the third quarter. New Mexico scored twice in the final 8 minutes, including a touchdown pass with 20 seconds left.

“I felt like we got into a rhythm, and that’s not really something I felt in the first four games,” Rypien said.

The Broncos have not trailed during their perfect start. They finished the game with a 456-421 advantage in yardage and faced eight third downs, converting five. Boise State was held to 65 rushing yards, but the passing game had lanes to throw all night.

Last year against the Lobos, the Broncos were 2-of-6 in the red zone and had four turnovers. They were a 4-for-4 inside the 20 with four touchdowns and did not have a turnover Friday.

On defense, the Broncos had 10 tackles for loss.

“The defense, offense, everybody, the plan the coaches put together, was spot-on,” Harsin said. “The players went out and executed it. They got it done. We got hit on the one long run early on, everybody adjusted and then went back out there and played really well.”

Next up for the Broncos is an 8:15 p.m. kickoff Oct. 15 at Albertsons Stadium against Colorado State, televised on ESPN or ESPN2.

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @IDS_BroncoBeat

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