WHEN THE BRONCOS HAVE THE BALL
▪ Sperbeck’s roll continues: Boise State junior wide receiver Thomas Sperbeck ranks 10th in the nation in receiving yards per game (103.2) and tied for 28th in yards per catch (18.96). He is tied for fifth in 30-yard plays (11) and tied for fourth in 40-yard plays (7). With more than 150 yards in three of the past four games, he’s nearing Titus Young’s school record for single-season receiving yards. Sperbeck has 929 yards; the record is 1,215. He could have another big game because the Lobos are known to blitz and play man coverage, like UNLV did.
▪ Tight end breakout: Boise State’s tight ends contributed six catches for 106 yards and a touchdown against UNLV. That’s roughly 20 percent of the group’s yardage for the season. “It’s been a long time coming,” sophomore tight end Jake Roh said. “We were really excited about it, everybody getting involved like that.”
WHEN THE LOBOS HAVE THE BALL
▪ Triple the fun ... or heartache: The Lobos’ triple-option offense gutted the Broncos for 505 rushing yards last year, the most the program ever has allowed. Boise State ranks fourth in the nation in rushing defense at 83.4 yards per game, but that doesn’t always point to success against the unique challenges presented by the option. The Broncos must install a new scheme to handle the responsibilities.
▪ QB questions: New Mexico has utilized two quarterbacks this season and plans to continue that approach. Lamar Jordan has proven the better passer along with his talent as a runner. But Austin Apodoca is the more prototypical passer.
▪ Missing production: Kicker Tyler Rausa’s fantastic season has obscured an unproductive season for the Broncos’ other special teams units. Boise State ranks 11th in the Mountain West in kickoff returns, ninth in punt returns, last in net punting and fifth in kickoff coverage. Coach Bryan Harsin said the units have played better than the numbers indicate. For example, many of the Broncos’ punts have been on short fields.
▪ A spark from Williams-Rhodes: Boise State senior wide receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes has shown flashes of his explosive ability since returning to the punt returner job. He has averaged 9.9 yards on seven returns and had one long return wiped out by penalty. “The touchdown is coming,” Williams-Rhodes said. “I don’t know when, but it’s coming.”
New Mexico at Boise State
When: 8:15 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf), Boise
TV: ESPNU (Mike Corey, David Diaz-Infante)
Radio: KBOI (670 AM), KTIK (93.1 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
Records: Boise State is 7-2, 4-1 Mountain West; New Mexico is 5-4, 3-2
Coaches: Boise State, Bryan Harsin (19-4, second year; 26-9, third year overall); New Mexico, Bob Davie (16-30, fourth year; 51-55, ninth year overall)
Series: Boise State leads 6-0 (Broncos won 60-49 in 2014 in Albuquerque)
Vegas line: Boise State by 30 1/2
Kickoff weather: Mid-40s, clear and dry with 12 mph winds