BOISE, Idaho – Boise State’s blue turf has not been kind to No. 17 Fresno State, which is winless in its last nine games against the Broncos at Albertsons Stadium. The surging Bulldogs, who are 23rd in the College Football Playoff rankings, look to end the streak Friday in a critical Mountain West showdown against the Broncos, who have won four in a row following a loss to San Diego State.
TV: 10:15 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Fresno State -3
Fresno State is riding a seven-game winning streak and boasts a stellar defense that has allowed an average of 7.2 points in five conference contests. Defensive backs Mike Bell and Tank Kelly have three interceptions apiece but figure to be tested by Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien, who needs 36 yards to become the Mountain West’s all-time passing yardage leader. “He’s an experienced, great player,” Bulldogs coach Jeff Tedford told reporters. “He’s had a lot of success throughout his career and he has a lot of playmakers around him. He’s very smart, doesn’t turn it over. He’s one of the best quarterbacks in the country.” The game features a pair of senior signal-callers in Rypien and the Bulldogs’ Marcus McMaryion, who threw for 274 yards and two scores in last week’s 48-3 win over UNLV.
ABOUT FRESNO STATE (8-1, 5-0 Mountain West)
Fresno State has held its last 19 opponents to 30 points or fewer and has one of the top linebackers in the country in junior Jeff Allison (team-high 84 tackles), who left last week’s game early due to injury but is expected to start Friday. The Bulldogs’ impressive offensive line provides elite protection for McMaryion, who has 20 touchdown passes against three interceptions and has only been sacked five times. The team’s deep receiving corps include tight end Jared Rice and wide receiver KeeSean Johnson (62 catches for 858 yards and six scores).
ABOUT BOISE STATE (7-2, 4-1)
The Broncos’ injury-plagued defense recorded seven sacks against BYU but received another blow after linebacker Riley Whimpey (team-high 55 tackles) was ruled out for rest of the season due to a torn ACL suffered late in the contest. Fresno native Tyler Horton leads the secondary with 30 tackles and four recovered fumbles. The Broncos have struggled to run the ball consistently this season, but Alexander Mattison provided a spark with 89 yards and two touchdowns in last week’s 21-16 win over BYU.
1. Fresno State has outscored its opponents 119-14 in the third quarter.
2. The Bulldogs closed last year’s regular season with a 28-17 home victory over Boise State before the Broncos answered with a 17-14 win in the Mountain West championship game in Boise.
3. Fresno State is 7-0 on the road under Tedford in Mountain West regular-season games.
PREDICTION: Fresno State 27, Boise State 17
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