The Mountain West’s potential offensive and defensive players of the year will clash Saturday night at Albertsons Stadium.
Boise State junior tailback Jay Ajayi ranks third in the nation in yards from scrimmage with 1,925 and fifth in scoring with 23 touchdowns.
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Utah State senior linebacker Zach Vigil ranks second with 133 tackles and tied for sixth with 18.5 tackles for loss (8.0 sacks).
“The best tailback and the best linebacker in the league are going to collide Saturday night and it will be a big-time matchup,” Utah State coach Matt Wells said.
Last year, Ajayi got the better of the meeting. He rushed 22 times for 109 yards and a touchdown in Logan, including a fantastic spinning run.
“We didn’t stop the running back very well,” Vigil said in July. “That’s something we take pride in as a defense and we didn’t do a very good job that day.”
The Aggies lead the Mountain West and rank 17th in the nation in rush defense, allowing 116.5 yards per game and 3.05 yards per carry. The yards per carry number is tied for ninth.
Ajayi has rushed for at least 100 yards in six straight games and in six of seven Mountain West games.
“They have an absolute stud at running back,” Vigil said this week. “ The biggest thing you see with Jay is the yards after contact. You can hit him behind the line of scrimmage, but he’ll still somehow go in for a touchdown.”
The Broncos speak highly of Vigil, too.
“There’s no celebration about me,” coach Bryan Harsin said. “The guy lays you out, gets back up, runs back to where he needs to go and figures out what the next call is. I’ve seen a lot of linebackers in this league and he is at the top.”
Said offensive coordinator Mike Sanford: “It’s a great matchup of a really good physical, stout defense against an offense that prides itself on being able to run the football. It’s a great matchup. I really can’t wait to see how it unfolds.”
Boise State offensive coordinator Mike Sanford is one of 40 nominees for the Broyles Award, which goes to the nation’s top assistant coach. Full list here.
Utah State at Boise State
When: 8:21 p.m. Saturday
Where: Albertsons Stadium (36,387, FieldTurf)
TV: ESPN2 (Mike Couzens, David Diaz-Infante, Shelley Smith). Channel 209 on DirecTV, 144 on Dish, 25 and 492 (HD) on Cable One.
Radio: KBOI (670AM), KKGL (96.9 FM); Bob Behler, Pete Cavender
Records: Boise State is 9-2 overall, 6-1 Mountain West; Utah State is 9-3, 6-1
Series: Boise State leads 14-4 (Boise State won 34-23 last year in Logan)
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