The game of football is a Thanksgiving weekend tradition for many households across the United States. This can be as small scale as a family Turkey Bowl game — which can easily turn into a heated, bloody affair. Or it can simply be sitting back and enjoying the slate of NFL games on Thanksgiving Day and the full deck of college games the two days after. For the sixth-straight season, the Boise State Broncos will be part of this tradition, with nothing more on-the-line than the title for the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference.
Saturday’s game against the Utah State Aggies (10-1, 7-0) will be given the national spotlight on ESPN. The winner will be crowned Mountain Division champion and will likely host the Mountain West Championship Game the following week.
Boise State currently leads the series between the two teams 17-5. The Broncos have won two straight, but experienced one of their worst losses in a recent memory in Brett Rypien’s freshman season. Utah State won that game 52-26 thanks to seven first-half turnovers by the Broncos.
Rypien was 25-50 for 299 yards and 3 interceptions in that game.
In 2016, the last time the Aggies visited the blue turf, the Broncos won 21-10, with Rypien going 15-24 for 163 yards and two touchdowns in that victory.
Boise State Broncos and Thanksgiving weekend
The Thanksgiving weekend game for the Broncos the past two seasons has not been kind to the program.
Last season, Boise State was in Fresno for a big game against the Fresno State Bulldogs. Both teams knew they’d be meeting again the next week for the Mountain West title. And it was Fresno State that prevailed in a 28-17 victory.
In 2016, the Broncos lost the Thanksgiving weekend game to the Air Force Falcons, 27-20. This marked the third-straight year they’d suffered a loss to the Academy.
Before that, Boise State had four straight wins over the Thanksgiving weekend, with a bye week mixed in. This winning streak came after a loss in 2010 (in which we’ll just leave it at that.)
All of these recent losses for Boise State over Thanksgiving weekend have occurred on the road.
A cold-weather showdown
On paper, the the Aggies and Broncos look like very similar teams. Sure, one of the teams (Utah St.) is putting up spectacular offensive numbers in 2018. They have done so, however, while avoiding the Aztecs and the Bulldogs of the world, and mostly against inferior opponents. (Combined record of teams Utah St. has played: 42-80. Boise State: 60-61).
Both teams each have a loss on the road to a Power 5 opponent. Looking at common opponents the teams have shared can be a good measuring stick. And so can looking at how many wins against teams with winning records each has had (Boise State: 4 Utah State: 2).
Across the board, the Broncos and the Aggies match up pretty closely. Boise State averages 37. 4 points per game while Utah State puts up 49.3
Rypien, outside of one game, has had a pretty outstanding senior season. He’s thrown for 3270 yards in completing 68.5 percent of his passes. Rypien has tossed 28 touchdowns and thrown 7 interceptions.
Across the way, sophomore quarterback Jordan Love is having quite a season. Love has thrown for 2845 yards and 25 touchdowns, completing 66.4 percent of his pass attempts while throwing only 4 interceptions.
Even on defense, the teams are similar. The Broncos have allowed 22.2 points while Utah State is sitting at 22.1.
Boise State is second in the nation with 14 fumble recoveries, trailing only Ohio State’s 15. Utah State has done their turnover damage through the air, securing 18 interceptions, tied for first in the nation with Maryland.
The Broncos have 36 sacks to the Aggies 27.
Much like dried turkey drenched in gravy, stats and comparisons can be poured over all day. None of the stats should be thrown out the window, but anything can happen this time of year in college football.
Let’s just hope it’s a Thanksgiving weekend to remember, in a positive way.