Daniel Hansen, @thegranddanny: Earlier in the season, I would have thought this game to be far more competitive. But after dismantling San Diego State on the road and fending off Wyoming at home, Boise State looks to have righted their ship and headed straight for their first Mountain West championship berth since 2014. I do think Utah State’s offense will show some life with QB Jordan Love, but Boise’s defense poses a far greater challenge than UNLV. The Aggie defense will do a fairly decent job clamping down on Bronco WR Cedric Wilson and the rest of the Boise State offense, but over 48 minutes, I expect Boise’s talent advantage to manifest itself plainly. USU will keep this close, but won’t ever truly threaten the Broncos.
Boise State 30, Utah State 20
Logan Jones, @Logantj: After a promising lift-off, the Jordan Love hype may be headed for some turbulence Saturday. The Broncos lead the conference in sacks (20) while Utah State leads in sacks allowed (24), and two of the best pass rushers in the Mountain West are to blame (Curtis Weaver has 6, Jabril Frazier has 5). Now, I do think USU’s OL has looked decent in pass pro this year; several of those miscues were due to a scampering Kent Myers. But compared to UNLV’s pressure-less front seven, this is a brutal second outing for a freshman QB. Boise’s offense is nothing special but rarely coughs up turnovers, allowing its sturdy defense to hold teams below 22 points per game. I think Love gets off to a good start with an early touchdown, but BSU’s physicality will ultimately wear him down. Utah State’s defense will go through its customary ice-cold start before cleaning things up in the second half, but BSU isn’t a team you can dig a hole against and still hope to win.
USU 23, BSU 30
Jaden Johnson, @jadenjohns0n: On the surface, this feels every bit like a game that could get really ugly. My gut instinct is to say that Boise State wins by 30, but the more I dig into the numbers, the less likely that seems. Weird but true: In every game this season, in regulation Boise State has scored somewhere between 23 and 31 points. Now that’s consistency. Despite ranking 111th in the country with just 336 yards per game, they still consistently find a way to get points on the board. This tells me that their defense (which ranks 19th in the nation in yards per game allowed), does a fantastic job at creating good field position and setting the offense up for success. It also doesn’t hurt to have one of the best kickoff and punt return teams in the country. This could be said of many games, but this one will come down to turnovers and special teams. I’m taking Boise State, but if the USU offense has one or fewer turnovers and the kick/punt return team can break a few long ones like they did last week, the Aggies will win.
Boise State 24, Utah State 21
Matthew Harris, @snowmatt: Boise State’s only losses have come against Washington State and Virginia. Utah State is not Washington State or Virginia. Boise State recently manhandled a ranked team. Utah State is not a ranked team. The Broncos’ strengths match up too well with the Aggies’ weaknesses for this game to be forgiving for Utah State. On the back of freshman Jordan Love and gifted kicker Dominik Eberle, the Aggies will put up some pride points, but the Broncos overall talent will win the day.
Boise State 33, Utah State 10
Thomas Sorenson, @tomcat340: As has been noted, Boise State’s offense is not nearly as potent as it has been historically. But the defense might be one of the best the Broncos have had. This defense held the Washington State offense to just three points midway through the fourth quarter and is allowing an average of 14 points per game in conference play so far. Defensive ends Curtis Weaver and Jabril Frazier are each in the top three in the conference in sacks and the line has consistently pressured opposing quarterbacks all season. If Utah State can’t get the rushing game going, whoever lines up behind center is in for a long, long night. Unfortunately, that Boise State defensive line has also shut down opposing ground games, currently ranking No. 11 in the nation with just more than 100 yards allowed per game. The Broncos also rank in the top 10 in special teams (FootballOutsiders.com has BSU at No. 10 and Utah State at No. 6) and freshman Avery Williams has two punt return touchdowns already this season. For the Aggies to have a chance in this game, the defense will need to show out. The Broncos have struggled offensively, but have improved their rushing attack each week over the past month or so and seem to be finding their rhythm. Without some special teams fortune and turnovers by the defense, USU is going to struggle to score.
Boise State 31, Utah State 16