JEREMY McNICHOLS, RUNNING BACK
One of eight running backs in the FBS with more than 1,000 rushing yards (he’s seventh with 1,058), McNichols is second nationally with 14 rushing touchdowns. He had 232 yards from scrimmage (192 rushing, 40 receiving) and scored three touchdowns last year against the Spartans.
“As talented as anyone in the conference. McNichols, we know he’s a strong runner, but he’s a breakaway runner as well,” San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said.
BEN WEAVER, LINEBACKER
The senior was fully expected to be one of the defense’s best, and he has been exactly that. He tied a career-high with 16 tackles in Saturday’s loss at Wyoming. His 72 tackles this season are 20 more than any other Bronco and have already exceeded his team-leading 68 in 2015.
“He made a lot of plays (Saturday), and he needed to. We were on the field a lot,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “... He’s been that way all year. Knows the defense as well as anybody.”
SAM McCASKILL, DEFENSIVE END
McCaskill leads all defensive linemen with 33 tackles (10.5 for loss) and has four sacks. The senior’s production, reliability and the lack of depth behind him has resulted in playing all 160 snaps on defense the past two games, plus the extra-point and field-goal block units.
“Sam McCaskill is one of the best players I’ve got, and I need him on the field all the time. Thankful he’s held up,” defensive line back Steve Caldwell said.
SAN JOSE STATE
DEONTAE COOPER, RUNNING BACK
A seventh-year senior with two bachelor’s and one master’s degree, Cooper spent his first six seasons at Washington, redshirting in 2010 and receiving two medical hardships due to three ACL tears (two left, one right). Never a starter with the Huskies, his 331 yards rushing with the Spartans are a career-best. He also has 108 receiving yards.
“I’ve never been around a seventh-year veteran. Deontae’s overcome so much. That heart, it can only enhance your program,” San Jose State coach Ron Caragher said.
ANDRE CHACHERE, CORNERBACK
A starter in the last eight games of 2015, Chachere has emerged as one of the Mountain West’s best. A 6-foot, 192-pound junior, he has three interceptions and 11 pass breakups. The 14 passes defended are tied for fifth in the FBS. According to Pro Football Focus, he has been targeted 32 times, allowing 14 completions for 167 yards and one touchdown, a pass efficiency rating of 79.15.
MICHAEL CARRIZOSA, PUNTER
A Ray Guy Award finalist last year, his 50 punts are 12th-most in the nation, and his 45.2-yard average is 13th. He has done it with a heavy heart: In April, his mother, Amy Rodriguez, died from cervical cancer.
“He’s come a long way in his career here. ... All that came on along with the adversity off the field,” Caragher said.