Jaylon Henderson

Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

No. 20 Boise State has close call but escapes Colorado State to remain in NY6 hunt

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On a rather important day for the Group of Five race, No. 20 Boise State (11-1, 8-0 Mountain West) did just enough to ensure they’ll head to the Mountain West Conference championship game with a shot to play in the Cotton Bowl. A 31-24 victory on the road against Colorado State (4-8, 3-5 Mountain West) ensured Boise State kept the pace on the final weekend of play in the regular season.

Jaylon Henderson completed 26 of 36 pass attempts for 253 yards and two touchdowns without an interception, and he added a key rushing touchdown in the Bronco victory. Boise State’s 17-point outburst in the second quarter helped create some separation from the Rams and allowed Boise State to stay just ahead of the home team in the second half. A pair of interceptions thrown by Colorado State quarterback Patrick O’Brien also led to 10 Boise state points, which proved to be critical.

While Colorado State’s season is now in the books, Boise State will play next week in the Mountain West Conference Championship Game. The Broncos will host Hawaii, who already clinched the Mountain West Conference’s West Division with a win against San Diego State last week, on Saturday, Dec. 7 at 4:00 p.m. ET. This will be Boise State’s third consecutive appearance in the conference championship game. The Broncos are looking for their second conference title in the past three years and third conference championship game since the Mountain West Conference introduced the game in 2013. Boise State is tied with San Diego State and Fresno State for most conference championship game victories, with two each. The Broncos lost at home to Fresno State, 19-16 in overtime, last season. This is the third consecutive season Boise State will host the conference championship game, and this will be the first time Hawaii has played in the game.

A win next week will be required for Boise State to be in the running for the Group of Five’s spot in the Cotton Bowl, as only conference champions are eligible. The biggest challenger for Boise State will come in the American Athletic Conference with Memphis hosting Cincinnati next week. A Memphis victory on Friday over Cincinnati likely takes the Bearcats out of the running even with a win in next week’s rematch unless Boise State loses to Hawaii. Memphis is the highest-ranked Group of Five team in the latest College Football Playoff rankings. The highest-ranked Group of Five conference champion will receive the invite to the New Years Six bowl lineup with the Cotton Bowl awaiting. Appalachian State is also hanging around hoping for some help out of the Sun Belt Conference.

Boise State defeated Hawaii 59-37 earlier this season in Boise.

Colorado State’s 2020 season will open at home against rival Colorado, of the Pac-12, on Saturday, Sept. 5, 2020.

Jaylon Henderson throws two touchdowns as Boise State leads Colorado State at halftime

Photo by Douglas Stringer/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images
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Boise State quarterback Jaylon Henderson continues to be serving the Broncos offense well as he got the start once again for the Mountain West Mountain Division champions on Friday at Colorado State. Behind a couple of touchdown passes, the Broncos own a 21-14 lead on Colorado State in the regular-season finale in snowy Fort Collins.

Colorado State opened the game with a touchdown drive to take an early lead on the Broncos. Jaylen Thomas ended the drive with a short touchdown run for the early score and lead. The Rams did all of their damage on the drive on first and second downs and did not face a third down the entire drive.

Boise State tied the game up on a touchdown drive that was given new life thanks to a penalty on the Colorado State special teams unit. After the defense held the Broncos to a supposed three-and-out, a running into the kicker penalty on the Rams gave the Broncos a free first down. Boise State took its first lead of the game following an interception by Tyreque Jones, the first mistake of the game by Rams quarterback Patrick O’Brien on the first play of the ensuing possession. Henderson, who started at quarterback for Boise State once again in place of Hank Bachmeier, completed a five-tard pass to CT Thomas for the go-ahead score.

Colorado State tied the game on their next possession with a 12-play drive spanning 81 yards. O’Brien tossed the game-tying touchdown to Warren Jackson to even the score at 14-14, but the Broncos had an answer on the offense’s next time on the field. A 14-play drive was capped by a second touchdown pass by Henderson, this time to Tyreque Jones from three yards out. Boise State defensive star Curtis Weaver picked off a pass he tipped at the line of scrimmage late in the first half to give the offense a chance to tack on an extra score before halftime. The Broncos had to settle for a field goal by Eric Sachse for a 10-point lead.

The crowd is rather sparse for this game. On top of Colorado State not being able to qualify for a bowl game, it being the day after Thanksgiving, and 15 inches snow filling a majority of the stands in Canvas Stadium, there isn’t much of a home-field advantage in place as Colorado State looks for a significant upset in the Group of Five picture. But the Rams are still hanging with the Broncos and will have a shot in the second half.