by Daniel Olsen | 1996. That was the last time the Utah State Aggies beat the Boise State Broncos in Boise. Those Broncos are pretty good on the smurf turf and have beaten the Aggies a total of 19 times while the Aggies have returned the favor just five times in the history of the rivalry.
The majority of those wins have come since the turn of the millennium when Boise became one of the best programs from a Group of 5 conference. The Aggies also beat Boise in their first matchup in 1975 which was at Boise. Although the Aggies would win four out of the first seven matchups, the Boise State Broncos would then win 12 straight matchups before getting blown out in Logan in 2015 by committing a sea of turnovers.
How are the 2020 Aggies going to do the unthinkable and upset a Boise State team that has outscored them by 82 points over the last four matchups? Let’s take a look at some things they can try.
1. Make the Boise offense uncomfortable: The Broncos return six starters but must replace for of last year’s starters on the offensive line. This is where Utah State needs to wreak some havoc. Last year Boise was a little too comfortable in the 56-21 blowout in Logan. If the Aggies are going to have a chance they need to create some pressure in the backfield. If they do that, it could lead to some turnovers or at the very least, punts to give their offense more opportunities that they will need to capitalize on the Broncos. The Aggies won in 2015 by capitalizing off seven Boise turnovers in the first half. There might not be as many in this game but it’s likely the team that wins the turnover battle will win the game.
2. Run and gun: The Aggies seem to be at their best when the run game is prevalent. This doesn’t mean we go up the middle every time. That’s too predictable for a good team like Boise State. However, the offense needs to change it up. When there is open space, Jason Shelley needs to run! There should be a mix of counters, sweeps, dives, draws, and pitches off the run. There is room for some option plays as well. It wouldn’t hurt to see some big returns on special teams by none other than Savon Scarver! If the running game gets going, it will open up the room for play action and other pass plays. The offensive line needs to show up to make this happen. Boise has been good at disrupting a lot of what the Aggies do best. This is a key to winning.
3. Play like it is a home game: There will be no fans at Albertson’s Stadium so it’s time for the Aggies to make their voices heard Saturday night on the Smurf Turf. They need to go in with that warrior mentality, knowing that they can play with the focus that they would in practice. With no fans it will be just like a scrimmage. This is a great opportunity for the Aggies to send a message and maybe catch the Broncos off guard.
Prediction: I’m not going to bet my house on it but I think this is a game the Aggies can win. I believe it will be a close game and the winner will come out with a single digit victory. Boise State hasn’t seen this much athleticism from a Mountain West opponent and the Aggies will catch them off guard. There are a lot of new faces. The difference is the new faces from the Aggies have already gained experience before they entered the transfer portal.
Shelley will play a lot of the game on the run but he will win the game with his arm. He will throw a Hail Mary over Boise for the win! I still think the Aggies will eventually come back to earth and lose a couple games this season but this is the perfect time for them to pull off an upset in the opening week of Mountain West play.
Final Score Prediction: USU 27 Boise 20
Image Courtesy Deseret News