The Mountain West Championship still rolls through the blue turf.
No. 23 Boise State used a stellar defensive effort at home to slowdown a high-powered No. 21 Utah State squad 33-24, clinching their Mountain division on Saturday night and keeping the conference title game in Idaho for yet another season in the process.
Facing off against one of the most prolific offenses in the country, the Broncos used a familiar formula recently in playing a bit of ball control on offense and using their defense to create a few extra possessions. That allowed them to nearly double up the Aggies in time of possession and take advantage of several self-inflicted mistakes from the visitors who had won 10 in a row coming into the game.
Senior quarterback Brett Rypien was not surprisingly at the center of the BSU offensive attack, helping the team pick up numerous third down conversions on his way to a 310 yard, one touchdown passing effort. His efficient performance from behind center was balanced out by star tailback Alex Mattison, who was an admirable workhorse out of the backfield who rushed for an even 200 yards and three touchdowns.
Utah State looked like they would be a big threat early on when they marched 75 yards on their first drive for a touchdown to open the game, but trailed off quickly from there and had issues piecing together sustained drives against an active front seven. QB Jordan Love needed a whopping 46 attempts to get 348 yards, throwing for three scores while also tossing an early interception. Running back Darwin Thompson took a bit of a back seat to the passing game as a result of all that and just 61 yards on 11 carries as his team played from behind most of the second half.
The loss puts a damper on the incredible campaign that USU had put together after a wild run this season since they narrowly fell to Michigan State in the opener. Either way, the team still rose into the top 15 of the polls this year and made their head coach Matt Wells a very hot commodity on the coaching market over the coming weeks as a result.
The flip side is that the victory once again puts Boise State back in the driver’s seat for the conference title like they were favored to do all season long. They will host Fresno State yet again in a rematch from last year’s championship contest and a replay of the two rivals game from earlier this month, a 24-17 win for the Broncos. Given the status of UCF quarterback McKenzie Milton, it’s possible the BSU could also secure a Group of Five bid to a major bowl game as well if they take care of business next Saturday and can get Memphis to knock off the Knights in the AAC title game.
While there was some outside thought that there could be a new MWC champion this year, in the end it was the same old story as the always familiar blue turf reigns supreme for yet another week.