No. 19 Boise State entered Saturday needing some style points to impress the CFP Selection Committee and earn the Group of Five bid to the Cotton Bowl. After two quarters of play from the blue turf though, the Broncos might need a few more despite some late signs of life.
BSU broke out from an early defensive battle with Hawaii in the Mountain West title game, hitting halftime with a 17-3 lead thanks mostly to a pair of scores down the stretch in the second quarter and the stellar play of their defense.
Linebacker Riley Whimpey was in the thick of things as usual with eight tackles and a key pass breakup while Kekoa Nawahine managed an interception in the end zone to prevent a scoring opportunity. The Broncos also made a goal line stand on 4th down and limited UH to just 1-of-6 on third down.
QB Jaylon Henderson started to warm up as things moved along, throwing for 150 yards and a pair of touchdowns — also providing a threat with his legs in leading the team in rushing with 35 more. Tailback George Holani had 30 yards of his own on the ground but only saw four touches in the first half.
Hawaii’s defense played a role in all of that in a game where they hit the locker room wondering how they only netted three points. Signal-caller Cole McDonald threw for 117 yards on 10-of-16 passing but had an interception, doing well to only get sacked once despite plenty of pressure in his face.
At least for the Rainbow Warriors things were going better than their first trip to Boise, where they trailed 31-14 at the midway mark of an eventual 59-37 loss. Things aren’t quite trending toward that lopsided a result but the MWC title game sure could be on the verge of getting away from the visitors from the islands if Boise State picks up where they left off late in the second quarter.