Humpty Dumpty sat on a wall. Humpty Dumpty had a great fall. All the King’s horses and all the King’s men couldn’t put Humpty Dumpty back together again.
That old nursery rhyme is an alliteration of the sad and unfortunate realization Boise State fans marginally escaped last night. The BYU Cougars nearly spoiled the Broncos’ college football playoff hopes for a second year in a row.
Boise State turnovers were the story of the night, allowing the scrappy BYU Cougars to be a constant nuisance. Coming into the game, Boise State operated with a negative turnover ratio, and that trend continued throughout the entire game as the Broncos ended the night with five turnovers, two of them being interceptions that were returned for touchdowns, a total of 109 yards gained between the two.
After 40 carries last week against Colorado State, Jeremy McNichols had to carry the load again for the Broncos in a quick turnaround. The marquee running-back had over 200 all-purpose yards (the sixth time in his career), none more important than the four-yard touchdown run at the 10:37 mark in the fourth quarter, a touchdown that gave Boise State a one point lead.
After Boise State managed to stop a BYU drive at the 6:43 mark in the fourth quarter, the Broncos dished out a heavy dose of McNichols, handing him the ball six straight plays, blasting though an exasperated BYU defensive line for three straight first downs. That drive would die out, but the four minutes that the Broncos’ run-heavy drive sucked up was seemingly damming for BYU.
On the last drive of the game the Cougars began to charge down the field, incrementally picking up chunks of yards, but a Boise State sack made BYU burn their final timeout with 22 seconds left in the game.
BYU’s quarterback Taysom Hill came up huge on the next play, notching a first down. With 15 seconds left in the game, BYU sent out their kicker to finish the game, and Boise State blocked the kick. The only problem is that the Cougars recovered the ball, and still had time to run a final Hail-Mary play. Unfortunately for the Cougars, much like lightning, the walk-off Hail-Mary touchdown would not strike the Boise State for a second season in a row.
Although Boise State has managed to stay undefeated, it is imperative that they figure out their turnover woes. A negative turnover ratio is not going to help them in that regard.
Another thing to watch going forward is team health. Star wide-receiver Thomas Sperbeck had a noticeable limp, and was grimacing in pain on the Broncos last offensive possession. Will he be ready to go for the next game?
Also, Jeremy McNihcols has had over 75 touches in a five day period. Will that have an effect on his performance going forward, slowing the star running-back down, or will he continue carry the load without breaking down.
All three of these developing storylines are things to watch going forward as the Broncos go to Laramie to play the Wyoming Cowboys on October 29th at 7 PM. This will be an interesting matchup to watch as two of the nation’s top backs, Jeremy McNichols and Brian Hill, face off against one another.