Boise State vs. Colorado State: Who gets the edge, players to watch in key division game

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WHO GETS THE EDGE?

When the Broncos run the ball ...

Even as teams have focused on slowing down the rushing attack, the Broncos have gained at least 140 yards on the ground during each of their five consecutive wins. They’ve had at least 34 rushing attempts in each of those games, showing a commitment to starting with the run.

The Rams have been decent against the run when facing traditional offenses, allowing 127.6 yards per game against them but 365.5 against option-based New Mexico and Air Force. Colorado State’s 4.75 yards per carry allowed is 99th in the Football Bowl Subdivision.

“I see a physical defense ... they come out and they hit it hard, try to stop the run,” Boise State sophomore running back Alexander Mattison said. “We’re gonna have to do a good job executing on the offensive side of the ball.”

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

Colorado St New Mexico Football(2)New Mexico running back Richard McQuarley tries to get past the Colorado State defense Oct. 20 in Albuquerque, N.M.

When the Broncos pass the ball ...

The Broncos’ passers have not thrown an interception in 134 passes and have spread the ball around well, throwing for 709 yards the last two games. Boise State has been incredible passing against CSU in their six meetings, completing 129 of 177 passes (72.9 percent) for 1,870 yards and 17 TDs with two INTs.

“Our offense is figuring out what we’re good at and what we’re not,” Boise State offensive coordinator Zak Hill said. “The guys are definitely clicking, with the quarterbacks and wide receivers being on the same page ... Brett (Rypien) and Montell (Cozart) do a great job with their preparation and know where to go with the football.”

Colorado State has allowed just 334 passing yards total the last three games, but two were against option teams and one was in a snowstorm in Laramie. Nevada threw for 508 yards in Fort Collins on Oct. 14. The Rams have one interception since Sept. 9.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Rams run the ball ...

Colorado State has rushed for 1,971 yards on 390 attempts, led by senior Dalyn Dawkins’ 1,050, but No. 2 back Izzy Matthews is out with a broken collarbone. The Rams have rushed for at least 180 yards seven times in 2017 and are 6-1 in those games.

“They run the ball very well,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “... They’re physical up front, their O-line is very good. Their tailbacks are downhill, a lot like San Diego State, guys that are very good at carrying the rock.”

On the other side, the Broncos have one of the best rush defenses in the country. Though they allowed their first 100-yard rusher last week, the Broncos are No. 8 in the FBS in rush defense (106.4 yards per game) with only one team going over 180 yards thus far.

ADVANTAGE: Boise State

When the Rams pass the ball ...

The duo of QB Nick Stevens and WR Michael Gallup is one of the best in the nation. Outside of the 110 yards last week at Wyoming, the Rams have thrown for at least 231 yards in every game, going over 300 yards five times. The line has allowed just six sacks.

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“Their line is the strength of their whole offense ... and they have a bunch of weapons that can attack on the outside,” Boise State junior linebacker Leighton Vander Esch said. “We’re going to have to be playing well all the way around the field.”

During Boise State’s five-game streak, opponents have completed 53.1 percent of passes, with four touchdowns to seven interceptions. The most balanced offense the Broncos have faced so far, Virginia, put up 42 points, so they are wary of a team like Colorado State.

ADVANTAGE: Colorado State

Nevada Boise St Football(2)Boise State cornerback Tyler Horton intercepts a pass intended for Nevada wide receiver Daiyan Henley in the fourth quarter last week at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

Special teams ...

Harsin called Colorado State’s special teams “solid” and, as usual, the Rams are good in the kicking game. Kicker Wyatt Bryan is 14-of-16 on field goals, and punter Ryan Stonehouse is averaging 48.3 yards per punt, though he’s had two blocked.

Avery Williams has two punt-return TDs for Boise State and could have some room against the Rams, who have allowed 12.2 yards per return. Both blocked punts were returned for scores. Junior kicker Haden Hoggarth’s 91.7 percent accuracy on field goals is tied for No. 3 in the FBS.

ADVANTAGE: Push

PLAYERS TO WATCH

COLORADO STATE

Michael Gallup, wide receiver

The nation’s leading receiver coming into the week, Gallup has hauled in 76 catches for 1,196 yards and six touchdowns. A 6-foot-1, 200-pound senior, his receptions are already tied with his 2016 total for third-most in CSU history, and his yardage is fifth-best in a single year.

“By far the best (we’ve seen),” Boise State junior cornerback Tyler Horton said. “Gallup’s the guy leading the nation ... it’s a big challenge.”

Dalyn Dawkins, running back

A Purdue transfer, he gives balance to a potent passing attack, with 160 carries for 1,050 yards and five TDs. He also has 206 receiving yards. He’s on pace for a top-10 rushing season in school history. The senior may see more work with Izzy Matthews (122 carries, 583 yards, 8 TDs) out.

“He runs the ball hard, he’s physical, he’s very well-rounded, just like their offense,” Vander Esch said. “He can do it all. He can catch, he can run.”

DawkinsColorado State running back Dalyn Dawkins carries past the New Mexico defense Oct. 20 in Albuquerque, N.M.

Josh Watson, linebacker

Colorado State’s leading tackler with 84, the 6-2, 240-pound junior in the middle has 28 stops in the last two games. He had a forced fumble and intercepted a pass in the Rams’ season opener against Oregon State. He’s also a skilled barber, as his father owns a school that teaches them.

“I watch film all the time. I watch film every night. I watch film in class when I know I’m supposed to be paying attention to class,” Watson told the Loveland Reporter-Herald. “... That just gives me an advantage to play a lot faster on Saturday."

BOISE STATE

Brett Rypien, quarterback

Following what can only be described as a slow start, the junior has found confidence lately, completing 72.6 percent of his passes the last three games with five TDs and no turnovers. His pass efficiency of 136.6 is 49th in the FBS. He was 105th before the Broncos’ five-game winning streak.

“He’s playing exceptionally,” Colorado State coach Mike Bobo said. “The last few weeks he really has his confidence back.”

Curtis Weaver, STUD end

Weaver isn’t asked to be a force in the run game, but few players can make an impact like he does when he’s on the field on passing downs. Of his 23 total tackles, seven have been sacks to lead the team. He also had his first interception last Saturday against Nevada.

“He’s been really good,” Harsin said. “I think the key for Curtis has been being focused each and every day. He’s very talented, he’s been consistent in games. He’s providing pressure. ... He does his best work when he has a good week of prep.”

Curtis WeaverBoise State defensive end Curtis Weaver stiff-arms Nevada offensive lineman Ziad Damanhoury after making a second-quarter interception last Saturday at Albertsons Stadium in Boise.

Kekoa Nawahine, safety

The sophomore from Rocky Mountain High has been adept at reading quarterbacks and cutting into passing lanes to create havoc. His three interceptions lead the team, while he is third with 57 tackles (four for loss) and has a fumble recovery.

“He’s got really good ball skills and good instincts,” Boise State defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “He does a really nice job playing in zone (coverage). The guy prepares, so he knows by certain formations and stuff when his opportunities are going to pop up.”

Dave Southorn: 208-377-6420, @davesouthorn

BOISE STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE QuarterbackHt.Wt.Yr.4 Brett Rypien6-2208Jr.3 Montell Cozart6-1205Sr.TailbackHt.Wt.Yr.22 Alexander Mattison5-11214So.21 Ryan Wolpin5-8195Sr.34 Robert Mahone5-10211RFr.Wide receiver (X)Ht.Wt.Yr.1 Cedrick Wilson6-3188Sr.17 Austin Cottrell6-2203Sr.Wide receiver (H)Ht.Wt.Yr.7 A.J. Richardson6-0209Jr6 CT Thomas5-8152Fr.Wide receiver (Z)Ht.Wt.Yr.8 Sean Modster5-11196Jr.82 Octavius Evans6-1195Fr.Tight endHt.Wt.Yr.88 Jake Roh6-3227Sr.87 Alec Dhaenens6-3246Sr.Left tackleHt.Wt.Yr.76 Ezra Cleveland6-6296RFr.66 Isiah Moore6-4275Jr.Left guardHt.Wt.Yr.77 John Molchon6-5313So.67 Garrett Larson6-4295So.CenterHt.Wt.Yr.59 Mason Hampton6-3295Sr.67 Garrett Larson6-4295So.Right guardHt.Wt.Yr.79 Eric Quevedo6-4304So.52 Andrew Tercek6-1278Sr.Right tackleHt.Wt.Yr.74 Archie Lewis6-3299Sr.78 Andres Preciado6-6292Jr.DEFENSE Defensive endHt.Wt.Yr.91 Durrant Miles6-5253Jr.93 Chase Hatada OR6-3267So.45 Kayode Rufai6-4254RFr.Nose tackleHt.Wt.Yr.98 Sonatane Lui6-1305So.57 Emmanuel Fesili6-2302So.Defensive tackleHt.Wt.Yr.55 David Moa6-3271Jr.90 Daniel Auelua6-2298Sr.STUD endHt.Wt.Yr.8 Jabril Frazier OR6-4243Jr.99 Curtis Weaver6-3252RFr.Weakside linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.38 Leighton Vander Esch6-4240Jr.44 Riley Whimpey6-1212Fr.Middle linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.58 Tyson Maeva6-0214So.25 Benton Wickersham6-2231RFr.Strongside linebacker/nickelHt.Wt.Yr.33 Gabe Perez6-4246Sr.28 Kekaula Kaniho5-10175Fr.Boundary cornerbackHt.Wt.Yr.14 Tyler Horton5-11188Jr.15 Jalen Walker6-0172RFr.Field cornerbackHt.Wt.Yr.26 Avery Williams5-9194RFr.27 Reid Harrison-Ducros5-10180So.Field safetyHt.Wt.Yr.4 DeAndre Pierce5-11174So.32 Jordan Happle5-11198RFr.Boundary safetyHt.Wt.Yr.10 Kekoa Nawahine6-2199So.37 Cameron Hartsfield5-10197Sr.SPECIAL TEAMS KickerHt.Wt.Yr.41 Haden Hoggarth6-0198Jr.46 Joel Velazquez6-0228RFr.PunterHt.Wt.Yr.46 Joel Velazquez OR6-0228RFr.49 Quinn Skillin6-4185Jr.SnappersHt.Wt.Yr.89 Brock Barr6-3204Sr.50 Nicholai Pitman5-11230So.HolderHt.Wt.Yr.49 Quinn Skillin6-4185Jr.Kick returnerHt.Wt.Yr.1 Cedrick Wilson OR6-3188Sr.26 Avery Williams5-9194RFr.Punt returnerHt.Wt.Yr.26 Avery Williams OR5-9194RFr.1 Cedrick Wilson6-3188Sr.

SCHEDULE

DateOpponentTime/ResultSaturday, Sept. 2TroyW, 24-13Saturday, Sept. 9at Washington StateL, 47-44 (3OT)Thursday, Sept. 14New MexicoW, 28-14Friday, Sept. 22VirginiaL, 42-23Friday, Oct. 6at BYUW, 24-7Saturday, Oct. 14at San Diego StateW, 31-14Saturday, Oct. 21WyomingW, 24-14Saturday, Oct. 28at Utah StateW, 41-14Saturday, Nov. 4NevadaW, 41-14Saturday, Nov. 11at Colorado State8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)Saturday, Nov. 18Air Force8:15 p.m. (ESPN2)Saturday, Nov. 25at Fresno State1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports Network)

COLORADO STATE

DEPTH CHART

OFFENSE QuarterbackHt.Wt.Yr.7 Nick Stevens6-3215Sr.15 Collin Hill6-5210So.TailbackHt.Wt.Yr.1 Dalyn Dawkins5-9185Sr.28 Rashaad Boddie6-0225RFr.Wide receiverHt.Wt.Yr.81 Olabisi Johnson6-0195Jr.27 Trey Smith6-0195Jr.Wide receiverHt.Wt.Yr.4 Michael Gallup6-1200Sr.9 Warren Jackson6-5205Fr.FlankerHt.Wt.Yr.8 Detrich Clark5-10180Sr.23 Marcus Wilson5-10190Jr.Tight endHt.Wt.Yr.30 Dalton Fackrell OR6-4240Sr.16 Cameron Butler6-2225Fr.Left tackleHt.Wt.Yr.61 Zack Golditch OR6-5295Sr.60 Trae Moxley6-6330Sr.Left guardHt.Wt.Yr.60 Trae Moxley OR6-6330Sr.51 Colby Meeks6-3310Jr.73 Tyler Bjorklund6-4290Jr.CenterHt.Wt.Yr.77 Jake Bennett6-3290Sr.51 Colby Meeks6-3310Jr.Right guardHt.Wt.Yr.72 Nicho Garcia6-5285Jr.71 Jeff Taylor6-1305So.Right tackleHt.Wt.Yr.78 Ben Knox OR6-6325Jr.61 Zack Golditch6-5295Sr.DEFENSE Left defensive endHt.Wt.Yr.91 Jakob Buys6-4280Sr.54 Arjay Jean6-4240So.Nose tackleHt.Wt.Yr.94 Darnell Thompson6-4280Sr.99 Colton Foster6-3295Jr.Defensive tackleHt.Wt.Yr.95 Richard King6-4275So.92 Livingston Paogofie6-1260Fr.Buck linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.43 Evan Colorito6-4245Sr.33 Emmanuel Jones6-4245Fr.Strongside linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.52 Tre Thomas6-2215Jr.15 Kiel Robinson6-2230Sr.Middle linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.55 Josh Watson6-2240Jr.42 Patrick Elsenbast OR6-0210Sr.51 Patrick Moody6-1225Fr.Weakside linebackerHt.Wt.Yr.15 Kiel Robinson6-2230Sr.31 Max McDonald6-1220So.Left cornerbackHt.Wt.Yr.10 Kevin Nutt, Jr.5-10190Sr.29 Justin Sweet5-10185Sr.Right cornerbackHt.Wt.Yr.14 Anthony Hawkins5-10185So.17 Shun Johnson5-11170Sr.Free safetyHt.Wt.Yr.11 Jordan Fogal5-10181Sr.9 Jadon Walker6-0175Fr.Strong safetyHt.Wt.Yr.8 Jake Schlager5-11195Sr.26 Kavapele Maka6-1185Jr.SPECIAL TEAMS KickerHt.Wt.Yr.96 Wyatt Bryan6-1175Jr.83 Braxton Davis6-0170Jr.PunterHt.Wt.Yr.41 Ryan Stonehouse5-11170Fr.SnappersHt.Wt.Yr.58 Trent Sieg6-3240Sr.59 Nathan Lucas6-2230Jr.HolderHt.Wt.Yr.59 Nathan Lucas OR6-2230Jr.41 Ryan Stonehouse5-11170Fr.Kick returnerHt.Wt.Yr.8 Detrich Clark5-10180Sr.1 Dalyn Dawkins5-9185Sr.Punt returnerHt.Wt.Yr.81 Olabisi Johnson6-0195Jr.39 Brendan Fulton5-9180So.

SCHEDULE

DateOpponentTime/ResultSaturday, Aug. 26Oregon StateW, 58-27Friday, Sept. 1vs. Colorado (Denver)L, 17-3Saturday, Sept. 9Abilene ChristianW, 38-10Saturday, Sept. 16at AlabamaL, 41-23Saturday, Sept. 30at HawaiiW, 51-21Saturday, Oct. 7at Utah StateW, 27-14Saturday, Oct. 14NevadaW, 44-42Friday, Oct. 20at New MexicoW, 27-24Saturday, Oct. 28Air ForceL, 45-28Saturday, Nov. 4at WyomingL, 16-13Saturday, Nov. 11Boise State8:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)Saturday, Nov. 18San Jose State1:30 p.m. (CBS Sports)

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