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No. 23 Boise State hangs on to beat Chris Petersen, Washington

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Boise State never loses at Bronco Stadium, no matter what sideline Chris Petersen paces. The 23rd-ranked Broncos survived a visit from their former coach and his Washington Huskies, 16-13, on Friday night.

Boise State held a commanding yet far-too-close 16-0 lead at halftime, holding the Huskies to 58 yards of total offense yet keeping the visitors in the game thanks to a turnover on downs and an interception in Washington territory.

Inevitably, the Huskies crawled back in the game in the second half… somehow. Cameron Van Winkle put Washington on the scoreboard with a 40-yard field goal with 3:10 remaining in the third quarter, and then Dane Pettis pulled the club within six on a 76-yard punt return less than 90 seconds later.

Van Winkle knocked in a 28-yarder midway through the fourth and had a chance to send the game to overtime, but his 46-yard try at the 21-second mark sailed wide right.

Washington remained in the game despite an offense that failed to get anything going nearly the entire night. The Huskies gained only 179 yards on the entire night – they did not have a play travel farther than 13 yards from scrimmage until their final possession – including a 185-29 deficit on the ground. True freshman Jake Browning earned the start (the first true freshman to ever start an opening game for a Petersen-coached team) and played all but a few snaps; he displayed poise beyond what showed up on the box sheet, completing 20-of-34 passes for 150 yards with an interception.

Browning did, however, take a sack when Washington had marched to the Boise State 29 on the game’s final drive that cost the Huskies their final timeout and 10 yards Van Winkle could have used on his fateful miss.

Boise State also played a first-time starter at quarterback – and he wasn’t much better than Browning. Sophomore Ryan Finley hit on 16-of-26 passes for a pedestrian 129 yards and an interception. Jeremy McNichols led all rushers with 24 carries for 89 yards and both of the Broncos’ touchdowns, but gained only 19 yards on his 10 second half carries. The Broncos gained only 100 yards of offense in the second half (excluding the final time-killing possession), saw two of its seven possessions lose yardage, and watched its most promising drive, a 43-yard jaunt, end in a Kelsey Young fumble at the Washington 32.

In all, Boise State committed two turnovers and got stuffed on a 4th-and-1 inside Washington territory. Those are the types of mistakes required to keep a team that averages just 3.14 yards per play and does not score an offensive touchdown in the game down to its final snap. And, ironically enough, they’re the types of mistakes Boise State did not make when Coach Pete was on the home sideline, not the visitor’s.

No. 23 Boise State handling Washington through one half

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No. 23 Boise State has controlled Pac-12 vistor Washington through one half, leading 16-0. And it isn’t really that close.

Jay Ajayi-replacement Jeremy McNichols has carried the load for the Broncos so far, scoring on a seven-yard run with 3:12 to go in the first quarter and again on a one-yard plunge at the 10:26 mark of the second quarter. He’s rushed 14 times for 70 yards so far. Stanford transfer Kelsey Young has added 42 yards on nine carries and quarterback Ryan Finley has completed 11-of-17 throws for 79 yards.

True freshman Jake Browning earned the start for Washington. He hit five of his first six throws for 29 yards, but his seventh landed in the arms of Boise’s Darian Washington, giving the Broncos the ball at Washington’s 24-yard line. The Huskies emerged unscathed, though, after McNichols was stoned on a 4th-and-1 at the Washington 15.

Boise State had scored on 49 straight red zone trips, 40 of them touchdowns, until then. The Broncos also squandered another scoring opportunity when Finley was intercepted by Kevin King at the Washington 12 late in the second quarter.

Boise added a 24-yard Tyler Rausa field goal with three seconds left before half to give us our 16-0 score.

Browning completed 7-of-11 passes for 41 yards and that interception; Washington has been out-rushed 153-17 thus far.

‘Unbreakable’ Ryan Finley officially named Boise’s starting QB

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In the end, Ryan Finley’s off-field incident had no impact on his standing in Boise State’s quarterback competition.

Sunday afternoon, head coach Bryan Harsin revealed the expected, that Finley is his starting quarterback and will line up under center when BSU opens the 2015 season against former head coach Chris Petersen and his Washington Huskies.  Finley had been in a “competition” with redshirt sophomore Tommy Stuart, true freshman Brett Rypien and redshirt freshman Alex Ogle throughout training camp, even as last season’s backup was widely viewed as the front-runner.

Finley wasn’t, though, just handed the job as the coaching staff kept testing the sophomore to see if he’d break.  The verdict?

He’s been unbreakable,” offensive coordinator Eliah Drinkwitz said. “That’s really why we stretched [the competition] out the way we did, because we wanted to make sure that we put the pressure on him. We said, ‘OK, can you handle this? Is this just a one-hit wonder? Can you be consistent?’ Yesterday we gave some reps to some other guys with the first team just to see is it going to rattle him, is it going to shake him. He’s been great.”

As Grant Hedrick’s primary backup in 2014, Finley completed 12-of-27 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.  He played in five games.

In late April, Finley was charged with a pair of alcohol-related misdemeanors.  In July, Harsin confirmed that Finley (likely) would be eligible to play in the opener.

Boise St. QB frontrunner (likely) to be eligible for opener vs. UW

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After exiting the spring as Boise State’s front-runner to take over as starting quarterback, Ryan Finley put that status at risk after being charged with a pair of alcohol-related misdemeanors.  The speculation was, Finley could be facing the loss of playing time.

As it turns out, that couldn’t be further from the case. Probably.

“Because of what’s happened and where the court case is as well, absolutely,” Broncos head coach Bryan Harsin stated when asked if Finley will be eligible to play in the highly-anticipated opener against Washington Sept. 4. “And I’ll say this with absolute confidence: Ryan has done everything we’ve asked of him. I can’t ask him to do more than what he’s done. I’m proud of him.

“This is obviously disappointing, we all understand that, but if guys can make up for their mistakes and I believe he’s done that from our standpoint, then we’re good.”

Finley’s pretrial conference has been postponed until the end of September after originally being scheduled for the middle of July. Despite the fact that the legal case won’t be resolved before the start of the season, Harsin said “I feel like what I’ve asked and what he’s done, he’s done it, and we’ll let the legal process do their jobs.”

Harsin did allow that, should new, pertinent information related to Finley’s case surface as the legal process does its job, additional punishment could be in the offing.

“If there’s something else in there that I don’t know or there’s more too it, then yeah, there’s obviously going to be something that we have to do at that point,” the second-year coach said.

As Grant Hedrick’s primary backup in 2014, Finley completed 12-of-27 passes for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception.

In addition to the redshirt sophomore Finley, the competition that began in the spring and extend on into summer camp includes redshirt sophomore Tommy Stuart, true freshman Brett Rypien and redshirt freshmanAlex Ogle. None of those three players have attempted a pass at the collegiate level.

Kevin Reihner officially makes move from Stanford to Penn State

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In early February Kevin Reihner announced via Twitter that he was leaving Stanford and heading to Penn State.  Three months later, that move has officially come to fruition.

In a press release, PSU announced that Reihner (pictured, No. 63) has transferred into the football program and will spend his final season of college football with the Nittany Lions.  Because the offensive lineman’s a grad transfer, he’ll be eligible to play immediately in 2015.

“We are excited to have Kevin join our family,” head coach James Franklin said in a statement. “He comes to us with great experience at the collegiate level and has the opportunity to make an immediate impact for us. It’s awesome that Kevin can return home to Pennsylvania to close out his college career.”

Reihner, officially listed as a center by Stanford, played in 10 games during his time with the Cardinal, including six this past season. He was a three-star member of Stanford’s 2011 recruiting class, the first post-Jim Harbaugh class on The Farm.

Reihner becomes the fifth Cardinal lost to the graduation transfer process this offseason, joining fullback Patrick Skov, now at Georgia Tech; defensive back Wayne Lyons, who moved on to Michigan; tight end Charlie Hopkins, who left for Virginia; and running back Kelsey Young, now at Boise State.