Boise State won’t be easing its way into the 2023 football season.
The Broncos draw 10th-ranked Washington on the road Saturday. Kickoff is 1:30 p.m. Mountain time at Husky Stadium in Seattle.
“I think that’s why you come to Boise State. You want to play the best,” Boise State edge Demitri Washington said. “That’s why a lot of us came here. Boise State’s not in a Power 5 conference, we’ve always been Group of 5, but we always get to play those big-time teams. The goal’s always to win each and every week and go 1-0.”
Since Boise State became an FBS member in 1997, the Broncos have opened the season against a ranked opponent eight times, going 3-5 in those games. Their wins came against No. 16 Oregon in 2009, No. 7 Virginia Tech in 2010 and No. 19 Georgia in 2011.
“We’re really excited to have this opportunity,” Boise State right tackle Cade Beresford said. “We know what we’re walking into — tough defense, great offense, a lot of threats that we have to wake up and get prepared for, so that’s what we’re doing here this week.”
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Can the Boise State defense slow down a juggernaut?
USC quarterback Caleb Williams won the Heisman Trophy last season, but there was a QB in his conference who had more completions and threw for more yards.
That would be Washington’s Michael Penix Jr., who was the nation’s leader in passing yards per game (357) and spread the ball around to a wealth of targets, including returnees Rome Odunze (75 catches, 1,144 yards), Jalen McMillan (1,098 yards) and Ja’Lynn Polk (41 catches, 694 yards).
“They line up in various positions all over the field. It’s not typical where you know where one guy is going to be at formationally,” Boise State coach Andy Avalos said. “That in itself tells you that they’re good at running the route tree. ... The wide receiver corps in general has length that goes along with the speed and size, so that ... obviously has led to them being one of the better passing teams in the nation.”
The Huskies’ high-powered offense will put tremendous pressure on a Boise State defense that was strong against the pass last season, allowing only two 300-yard games and 13 TDs through the air. The Broncos surrendered barely 160 passing yards per contest — a total Penix is used to having by halftime.
Something’s gotta give.
Can a college football rule change help the Broncos?
The offense could do the defense a huge favor Saturday by sustaining drives, running time off the clock and keeping Penix off the field. Boise State’s potent rushing attack would seem tailor-made for that, and a new rule for 2023 could be a godsend, too.
College football’s leaders finally made the wise decision to do away with stopping the clock after every first down. As long as the player is brought down inbounds after making the line to gain, the seconds keep ticking away. What used to be a 4-minute drive with six first downs could easily become close to a 7-minute drive. (And what used to be a 4-hour game could become 3 hours and 25 minutes.) Putting a few of those drives together would enhance the Broncos’ upset bid greatly.
(A caveat to the rule: The clock still will stop on first downs in the final 2 minutes of each half, greatly helping dramatic end-of-game comebacks.)
BOISE STATE AT NO. 10 WASHINGTON
When: 1:30 p.m. Mountain time Saturday
Where: Husky Stadium (70,138, AstroTurf), Seattle, Washington
TV: ABC (Bob Wischusen, Robert Griffin III, Kris Budde)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: Boise State 0-0; Washington 0-0
Series: Washington leads the all-time series 3-2, most recently defeating the Broncos 38-7 in the 2019 Las Vegas Bowl
Vegas line: Washington by 14
Weather: High of 83 degrees, 5% chance of rain, 6 mph winds