It sure seemed like the sort of injury that would be a major factor, a big negative, for Boise State. But as he’s done before, the Broncos’ Jalen Walker was up to the challenge.
Senior cornerback Tyler Horton did not make the trip to Boone Pickens Stadium after having left last Saturday’s win over UConn with a leg injury. Horton, a first-team All-Mountain West selection, had two fumble returns for touchdowns Sept. 1 at Troy.
Walker, a sophomore who filled in for an injured Horton in the 2017 Las Vegas Bowl, tied for the team lead with six tackles and broke up a pass.
“I thought Jalen did some really good things today,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... There’s not a corner in the country that’s going to shut down their wide receivers. Jalen was on them, he batted a few balls down, he was in position for coverage.”
Sign Up and Save
Get six months of free digital access to The Idaho Statesman
It wasn’t perfect, as Walker got beat on a 35-yard Tyron Johnson catch on a third-and-12 in the second quarter that certainly could have gone for a touchdown if not for an underthrow by quarterback Taylor Cornelius. That was Johnson’s only catch, and Walker helped keep the passing game in check (246 yards).
“He was prepared, he had a good week — it’s unfortunate we had the score we did in this game, and he doesn’t get the credit that way,” Harsin said. “He’s going to continue to play well, I feel good about Jalen Walker.”
TIGHT ENDS MAKE AN IMPACT
After recording just two total catches against Troy and UConn, Boise State tight ends combined for eight grabs in the first half and 10 in the game.
It was a career day for redshirt senior Chase Blakley and redshirt sophomore John Bates, with both surpassing their career totals for receptions before halftime.
“I think that was just what they were giving us a little bit,” Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien said. “... There were opportunities to throw to the tight ends, and I thought they did a good job.”
Blakley, a Coeur d’Alene High grad who missed nearly two full seasons due to injury, doubled his previous career total with six receptions for 30 yards and the first touchdown of his Boise State career.
The 6-foot-4, 239-pound Blakley had just three career grabs for 44 yards heading into Saturday’s game. Brett Rypien hit Blakley with a 5-yard pass on fourth-and-goal with 1:30 to go in the third quarter. Bates had four catches for 49 yards Saturday.
MOA, EVANS MAKE SEASON DEBUTS
Though Horton was unavailable, the Broncos were close to full health among their starters. Senior defensive tackle David Moa and sophomore wide receiver Octavius Evans, both projected starters, played for the first time this season Saturday.
Moa entered the game in the second quarter and had two tackles, including one for loss that forced a field goal in the red zone. Evans played sparingly, not recording a catch, but Harsin said afterward he probably should have played more.
GUNDY RAVES ABOUT BOISE STATE
Oklahoma State will play the second game of the series in 2021 at Albertsons Stadium. Oklahoma State coach Mike Gundy, who has been at the helm since 2005, could very well be there, too.
After Saturday’s game, he heaped praise upon Boise State.
“That’s why I thought this was such a good series because you’re matching (up) against really good football coaches,” Gundy said. “Their players played the game the right way. They didn’t talk trash. ... It’s a first-class organization and you can tell why they win games.”
BETTING LINE FLIPS TO BRONCOS
Boise State became a solid favorite to beat Oklahoma State on Saturday.
Boise State was favored by 2 points (and as much as 2.5 at one point). The opening line was Oklahoma State by 3.5 and the line had dropped to 1 on Friday. But the Broncos weren’t favored until Saturday.
Boise State hasn’t won a true game featuring two ranked teams since the 2003 Fort Worth Bowl, when No. 18 Boise State beat No. 19 TCU 34-31 in their home stadium. Since then, the Broncos have played in five such games — losses to Georgia in 2005, Hawaii in 2007, Nevada in 2010, Michigan State in 2012 and now Oklahoma State. Overall, Boise State is 4-12 on the road against ranked teams with the most recent win coming last season at then-No. 18 San Diego State last October.
However, the Broncos have won five Top 25 matchups on neutral fields since the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.
Boise State was worst in the nation on fourth downs last season, but is now 4-of-5 this season, including 3-of-4 Saturday. One that was stopped, however, came in the second quarter at the Oklahoma State 32. ... Senior STUD end Jabril Frazier got his first sacks of the season, registering two. ... Oklahoma State is tied for No. 1 in the nation with 24 blocked kicks since 2015. ... Wide receiver Akilian Butler and defensive end Durrant Miles were the Broncos’ single-game captains. Miles filled in for Horton. ... Boise State wore blue pants, white jerseys and blue helmets. ... The starting offensive linemen and running back Alexander Mattison carried Hammers. ... Oklahoma State won the coin toss and deferred. ... Boise State next plays at Wyoming on Sept. 29.