BOISE, Idaho – No. 21 Boise State looks to remain unbeaten in Mountain West play when it hosts pesky Wyoming on Saturday. The Broncos, who are ranked No. 22 in the initial College Football Playoff poll, are atop the Mountain Division, but Air Force, Wyoming and Utah State are all in close pursuit with just one conference setback.
TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN. LINE: Boise State -13
Boise State's defense was shaky in last Saturday's 52-42 win over San Jose State, but freshman running back George Holani displayed why he's viewed as a future star by rushing for season bests of 126 yards and four touchdowns. "George came in here and physically was more ready to play (than typical freshmen) and, I think, mentally," Broncos coach Bryan Harsin said during a press conference. "That's probably the one thing we underestimated, too. The guy's got one speed. It's full." Wyoming only averages seven pass completions per game and it remains to be seen how the offense is tweaked with redshirt freshman quarterback Sean Chambers ruled out for the season with a knee injury. Sophomore Tyler Vander Waal, who is 4-of-16 passing this season, will replace the run-oriented Chambers.
ABOUT WYOMING (6-2, 3-1 Mountain West)
Vander Waal started nine games last season but he completed just 48.8 percent of his passes for 1,310 yards, five touchdowns and four interceptions. “I think I’m in a different place than I was last year mentally and even as a quarterback leadership-wise, too,” Vander Waal told reporters. “I’m just ready to go out there and show people what I’m capable of, and I think a lot of people could throw in the towel looking at our next four games, and we can go 0-4 because we’re playing four good teams. But I think we’re not going to skip a beat offensively.” The Cowboys allow just 17.6 points per game with senior safety Alijah Halliburton leading the defense with a team-high 76 tackles and redshirt freshman defensive end Solomon Byrd contributing a team-best six sacks.
ABOUT BOISE STATE (7-1, 4-0)
Freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier returned from a one-game absence due to a hip injury to complete 13-of-17 passes for 213 yards and one interception in the shootout with San Jose State. “I just do whatever I can for this team,” Bachmeier (1,760 yards, nine touchdowns, four interceptions) told reporters. “I know that every single one of my teammates is going to do whatever they can for us to win the game, so I’m going to do my best just to help us win.” Junior pass rusher Curtis Weaver has 10.5 sacks this season and ranks third in school history with 31, one behind second-place Chris Wing (1994-96).
1. Boise State is 12-1 all-time against Wyoming, including a 6-0 mark at home.
2. Broncos senior WR John Hightower leads the team with 584 receiving yards and has topped 100 in three of the past four games.
3. Cowboys sophomore RB Xazavian Valladay has a team-best 631 rushing yards, which includes a career-high 206 in a win over Nevada.
PREDICTION: Boise State 31, Wyoming 16