Boise State Football

Boise State vs. San Diego State: Who gets the edge in matchup of Mountain West favorites

The Boise State football team heads onto the field before facing New Mexico on Sept. 14 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.
The Boise State football team heads onto the field before facing New Mexico on Sept. 14 at Albertsons Stadium in Boise. doswald@idahostatesman.com

WHO GETS THE EDGE?

When the Broncos run the ball ...

Boise State took a step forward last week with a 118-yard showing from sophomore running back Alexander Mattison. Still, the Broncos rank 102nd in the FBS with 125.2 yards rushing per game.

“It was nice getting the run game going, you could definitely tell the physicality was there,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “Moving forward, they know they can do it and there are things to build on.”

The Aztecs are allowing 126 yards per game on the ground, tied for 35th nationally. Other than Stanford, with potential Heisman candidate Bryce Love, no team has averaged more than 3.7 yards per carry against San Diego State.

ADVANTAGE: San Diego State

When the Broncos pass the ball ...

Boise State bounced back a bit against BYU after the Virginia loss, when the Broncos dropped nine passes, according to coach Bryan Harsin. The 142 yards were very San Diego State-like, but efficient. No completion went for more than 25 yards, something quarterback Brett Rypien hopes to remedy.

“We only had seven explosive plays that game,” Rypien said. “We definitely want to take a step forward this week moving the ball down the field a little bit more.”

The Aztecs are one of the best against the pass, ranking 22nd nationally (184.7 yards per game). But they have not played many teams as capable as the Broncos of putting the ball in the air. Still, their eight interceptions and 17 sacks are a product of an aggressive system.

ADVANTAGE: Push

When the Aztecs run the ball ...

San Diego State has one of the best running backs in the nation in senior Rashaad Penny, and 5-foot-7 Juwan Washington provides a change of pace. The pair combine for 220 yards per game on the ground. The Aztecs have rushed for at least 127 yards in each game this season and have won 35 straight when rushing for at least 200 yards.

The Broncos have been stout against the run (18th nationally), not allowing a 100-yard rusher this season and coming off a strong showing at BYU. Boise State has allowed only 12 runs of 10 yards or more. Only Alabama has allowed fewer.

“They always have a tough defense, very disciplined, don’t give up big plays,” Penny said. “If you have that opportunity to make a play, you have to take it. It’s going to be a good matchup.”

ADVANTAGE: San Diego State

When the Aztecs pass the ball ...

Junior quarterback Christian Chapman has been solid but unspectacular for the Aztecs. He knows how to operate the offense and does not make risky throws. He has just one interception this season, but SDSU has allowed 15 sacks, a high number considering the low amount of throws.

Boise State has registered 12 sacks on the season and has kept most passing attacks in check. The six interceptions for the Broncos this season is already just one fewer than they had all of 2016.

“We have to play with great eye control this game,” Boise State cornerback Avery Williams said. “We can’t just be expecting the run every play, we still have to defend the pass. Their receivers will act like they’re blocking and go out for a pass.”

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

Special teams ...

Boise State has made a major turnaround this season, going into Saturday ranked No. 28 by ESPN in special teams efficiency. The Broncos were 116th last season. Williams’ return abilities have been a key part, while the Broncos are No. 30 in net punting, both allowing strong field position. Kicker Haden Hoggarth is 5-of-5 on field goals and has not missed an extra point.

San Diego State has perhaps the best kickoff return unit in the nation, with two returns for touchdowns. Kicker John Baron II is 10-of-12 on field goals. The longest punt return allowed by San Diego State has been an 18-yarder, but the Broncos see an opportunity.

“Watching film on their punt team, I think we have a great chance of making something big happen in this game,” Williams said.

ADVANTAGE: Push

BOISE STATE

Brett Rypien, quarterback

Rypien said the first month of the season was one of his most difficult as a football player, not throwing a touchdown until last week’s win over BYU. He is completing 60.9 percent of his passes for 646 yards with a touchdown and three interceptions. In the last three meetings with the Aztecs, Boise State quarterbacks have thrown for 553 yards, four TDs and five interceptions.

“It was probably the toughest time I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Rypien said. “... I’ve just been focusing on getting better, what I can control.”

Tyson Maeva, linebacker

A San Diego native, the Broncos’ sophomore starter in the middle said he’ll “have around 250 tickets just for my family alone.” It will be an important game for Maeva, who is tied for third on the team with 32 tackles, including a sack. He’ll be pivotal against the run, something he’s focused on improving lately.

“I need to do a better job handling myself against the O-linemen,” Maeva said. “These last couple games, I’ve had some trouble working off blocks. This is going to be one of my biggest challenges.”

Garrett Larson, center

The sophomore, a Fruitland High graduate, started the first three games of the season at left guard but was moved out of the starting lineup Sept. 22 against Virginia. An injury to center Mason Hampton prompted Larson to move over and play a spot that he had only practiced. Larson performed very well in his first action at center, helping the line to its first sack-free game.

“It was a lot of fun, got to play next to my roomates, they’re a huge reason why we had a good game,” Larson said. “... Familiarizing myself with the spot again, (snapping) I had to relearn.”

SAN DIEGO STATE

Rashaad Penny, running back

The Aztecs had to replace the No. 1 rusher in FBS history in Donnel Pumphrey, obviously no small task. But Penny has stepped in as one of the nation’s best backs. The 5-foot-11, 220-pound senior is the country’s second-leading rusher, with 993 yards and nine TDs on 143 carries. He also has a pair of receiving touchdowns and a 99-yard kickoff return for a score.

“He seems like he can do it all,” Maeva said. “He’s fast, he’s physical, he’s probably as big as me, if not bigger.”

Christian Chapman, quarterback

The 6-foot, 200-pound junior has completed 80 of 127 passes (63 percent) for 968 yards, with seven touchdowns and just one interception. He’s thrown 110 consecutive passes without being picked off. He also ran for a touchdown last week against UNLV.

“He’s a great game manager,” Williams said. “He’ll hand the ball off, but when they call play action, call a boot, he’ll get that first down. We’ve got to do a great job confusing him, got to do a great job getting pressure back there and locking their guys up in the secondary.”

Kameron Kelly, cornerback

A safety his first three seasons with the Aztecs, Kelly (6-2, 200) has moved to become a potential NFL cornerback this season. He’s proved to be a reliable tackler, with 28 solo stops, best on the team. He also has a pair of sacks, two interceptions and a forced fumble.

“I’m not going to sit here and say I’m the best DB in the country,” Kelly told the San Diego Union-Tribune last month. “But I don’t think any receiver can catch a pass on me. That’s my mindset.”

BOISE STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 Brett Rypien

6-2

208

Jr.

3 Montell Cozart

6-1

205

Sr.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

22 Alexander Mattison OR

5-11

214

So.

21 Ryan Wolpin

5-8

195

Sr.

34 Robert Mahone

5-10

211

RFr.

Wide receiver (X)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Cedrick Wilson

6-3

188

Sr.

9 Bryan Jefferson

5-11

193

So.

Wide receiver (H)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

7 A.J. Richardson

6-0

209

Jr

6 CT Thomas

5-8

152

Fr.

Wide receiver (Z)

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Sean Modster

5-11

196

Jr.

82 Octavius Evans

6-1

195

Fr.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

88 Jake Roh

6-3

227

Sr.

87 Alec Dhaenens

6-3

246

Sr.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

76 Ezra Cleveland

6-6

296

RFr.

66 Isiah Moore

6-4

275

Jr.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

77 John Molchon

6-5

313

So.

67 Garrett Larson

6-4

295

So.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

59 Mason Hampton

6-3

295

Sr.

67 Garrett Larson

6-4

295

So.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

79 Eric Quevedo

6-4

304

So.

52 Andrew Tercek

6-1

278

Sr.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

74 Archie Lewis

6-3

299

Sr.

78 Andres Preciado

6-6

292

Jr.

DEFENSE

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

91 Durrant Miles

6-5

253

Jr.

93 Chase Hatada OR

6-3

267

So.

45 Kayode Rufai

6-4

254

RFr.

Nose tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

98 Sonatane Lui

6-1

305

So.

57 Emmanuel Fesili

6-2

302

So.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

55 David Moa

6-3

271

Jr.

90 Daniel Auelua

6-2

298

Sr.

STUD end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

53 Sam Whitney

6-2

231

So.

8 Jabril Frazier OR

6-4

243

Jr.

99 Curtis Weaver

6-3

252

RFr.

Weakside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

38 Leighton Vander Esch

6-4

240

Jr.

44 Riley Whimpey

6-1

212

Fr.

Middle linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

58 Tyson Maeva

6-0

214

So.

25 Benton Wickersham

6-2

231

RFr.

Strongside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

33 Gabe Perez

6-4

246

Sr.

9 Desmond Williams

5-11

201

RFr.

Boundary cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

14 Tyler Horton

5-11

188

Jr.

15 Jalen Walker

6-0

172

RFr.

Field cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

27 Reid Harrison-Ducros

5-10

180

So.

26 Avery Williams

5-9

194

RFr.

Field safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

4 DeAndre Pierce

5-11

174

So.

32 Jordan Happle

5-11

198

RFr.

Boundary safety

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

10 Kekoa Nawahine

6-2

199

So.

37 Cameron Hartsfield

5-10

197

Sr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

41 Haden Hoggarth OR

6-0

198

Jr.

46 Joel Velazquez

6-0

228

RFr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

46 Joel Velazquez OR

6-0

228

RFr.

49 Quinn Skillin

6-4

185

Jr.

Snappers

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

89 Brock Barr

6-3

204

Sr.

50 Nicholai Pitman

5-11

230

So.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

49 Quinn Skillin

6-4

185

Jr.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

1 Cedrick Wilson OR

6-3

188

Sr.

26 Avery Williams

5-9

194

RFr.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

26 Avery Williams OR

5-9

194

RFr.

1 Cedrick Wilson

6-3

188

Sr.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Sept. 2

Troy

W, 24-13

Saturday, Sept. 9

at Washington State

L, 47-44 (3OT)

Thursday, Sept. 14

New Mexico

W, 28-14

Friday, Sept. 22

Virginia

L, 42-23

Friday, Oct. 6

at BYU

W, 24-7

Saturday, Oct. 14

at San Diego State

8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Oct. 21

Wyoming

8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)

Saturday, Oct. 28

at Utah State

8 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Nov. 4

Nevada

TBA (ESPN Networks)

Saturday, Nov. 11

at Colorado State

8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

Saturday, Nov. 18

Air Force

TBA (ESPN Networks)

Saturday, Nov. 25

at Fresno State

1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

SAN DIEGO STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE

Quarterback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

10 Christian Chapman

6-0

200

Jr.

9 Ryan Agnew

6-0

190

So.

Tailback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

20 Rashaad Penny

5-11

220

Sr.

29 Juwan Washington

5-7

190

So.

Fullback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

15 Nick Bowden

6-3

245

Sr.

34 Isaac Lessard

6-3

240

So.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

89 Fred Trevillion

6-2

220

Jr.

8 Quest Truxton OR

6-0

185

Sr.

92 Isiah Macklin

6-5

220

RFr.

Wide receiver

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

6 Mikah Holder

6-0

185

Sr.

93 Tim Wilson OR

6-4

205

RFr.

81 Collin Andrews

6-3

185

RFr.

Tight end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

88 David Wells

6-5

255

Sr.

82 Parker Houston

6-3

240

So.

Left tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

74 Tyler Roemer

6-7

305

RFr.

76 Zachary Thomas

6-5

285

RFr.

Left guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

79 Daishawn Dixon

6-5

320

So.

56 Dominic Gudino

6-3

300

Fr.

Center

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

60 Keith Ismael

6-3

310

RFr.

55 Garrison Young

6-3

295

Jr.

Right guard

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

67 Antonio Rosales

6-4

305

Sr.

62 Nick Gerhard

6-5

300

So.

Right tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

77 Ryan Pope

6-7

315

Jr.

78 Joe Salcedo

6-7

300

Jr.

DEFENSE

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

95 Noble Hall OR

6-3

265

Jr.

41 Dakota Turner

6-3

250

Sr.

Defensive tackle

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

65 Sergio Phillips

6-2

285

Sr.

61 Damon Moore

6-4

260

Jr.

Defensive end

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

68 Myles Cheatum OR

6-2

255

So.

41 Dakota Turner

6-3

250

Sr.

Outside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

39 Ronley Lakalaka

6-0

225

Jr.

44 Kyahva Tezino

6-0

230

So.

Middle linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

46 Jay Henderson

6-2

230

Sr.

38 Andrew Aleki

6-3

220

Fr.

Outside linebacker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

42 Troy Cassidy

6-3

215

So.

57 Ryan Dunn OR

6-3

225

Sr.

52 Tyler Morris

6-3

225

Sr.

Cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

17 Ron Smith

6-0

170

So.

27 Kyree Woods

6-0

185

So.

Cornerback

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

7 Kameron Kelly

6-2

200

Sr.

32 Tayler Hawkins

6-1

200

RFr.

Warrior

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

3 Trey Lomax

5-11

195

Sr.

23 Darren Hall

6-0

170

Fr.

Warrior

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

14 Tariq Thompson

6-0

190

Fr.

48 Israel Cabrera

5-10

180

So.

Aztec

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

33 Parker Baldwin

6-2

215

Jr.

37 Dwayne Johnson Jr.

6-2

205

RFr.

SPECIAL TEAMS

Kicker

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

29 John Baron II

5-11

190

Jr.

95 Garrett Erickson

6-0

185

Jr.

Punter

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

59 Brandon Heicklen

6-0

180

So.

95 Garrett Erickson

6-0

185

Jr.

Snappers

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

50 Turner Bernard

6-1

210

RFr.

82 Parker Houston

6-3

240

So.

Holder

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

6 Mikah Holder

6-0

185

Sr.

9 Ryan Agnew

6-0

190

So.

Kick returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

20 Rashaad Penny

5-11

220

Sr.

29 Juwan Washington

5-7

190

So.

Punt returner

Ht.

Wt.

Yr.

8 Quest Truxton

6-0

185

Sr.

29 Juwan Washington

5-7

190

So.

SCHEDULE

Date

Opponent

Time/Result

Saturday, Sept. 2

UC Davis

W, 38-17

Saturday, Sept. 9

at Arizona State

W, 30-20

Saturday, Sept. 16

Stanford

W, 20-17

Saturday, Sept. 23

at Air Force

W, 28-24

Saturday, Sept. 30

Northern Illinois

W, 38-24

Saturday, Oct. 7

at UNLV

W, 41-10

Saturday, Oct. 14

Boise State

8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)

Saturday, Oct. 21

Fresno State

8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)

Saturday, Oct. 28

at Hawaii

TBA (ESPN Neworks)

Saturday, Nov. 4

at San Jose State

TBA (ESPN Networks)

Saturday, Nov. 18

Nevada

8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)

Friday, Nov. 25

New Mexico

1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

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