After some time off to reflect on their win over ranked Georgia in Atlanta during the first week of the college ranked Boise State Broncos get back to business on the gridiron on Friday night as they take on the Toledo Rockets in Ohio.
The most successful program in the Football Bowl Subdivision since 2002 with a total of 107 victories, Boise State kicked off the 2011 campaign with a convincing 35-21 win over Georgia on September 3, although some of the luster was lost from that victory after the Bulldogs also bowed to South Carolina in their second game of the season. Nevertheless, the Broncos have now won three straight games and 13 of their last 14 overall.
Boise State is slated to kick off its home schedule next Saturday when it tangles with former Western Athletic Conference foe, Tulsa.
As for the Rockets, champions of the Mid-American Conference a total of 10 times, they almost became the first team from the state of Ohio in nearly a century to knock off Ohio State last week, but in the end the team suffered a disappointing 27-22 setback on the road.
Toledo, which easily dismissed FCS member New Hampshire in the season opener back on the first of September (58-22), has never hosted a team ranked as high as the Broncos. Back in 2003, the Rockets welcomed ninth-ranked Pittsburgh to the Glass Bowl and sent the Panthers packing following a 35-31 upset.
As far as the all-time series between these two teams is concerned, this is just the second meeting following a 57-14 victory for the Broncos last year on the blue turf.
Aside from an ill-advised interception, Boise State's Kellen Moore was again on top of his game against Georgia in the season opener, converting 28-of-34 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns. As a result Moore, who is again vying for Heisman Trophy recognition, notched his 14th straight game with multiple TD passes and also reached 102 TDs for his career. In fact, Moore has thrown multiple TDs in 34 of his 41 career games and because of that is on pace to set the all-time NCAA record for wins at QB if everything plays out accordingly this season.
While Moore was slicing up the Georgia pass defense, Doug Martin and D.J. Harper were keeping the Bulldogs hopping with a combined 101 yards and two touchdowns on the ground as well, and yet Georgia head coach Mark Richt still found the positives in his team's efforts despite the loss.
"Boise State didn't have any plays that were over 20 yards...They went to that up-tempo offense that allowed them to make some plays later on in the game, but we were able to rush the passer some and put pressure on their offense. Overall I think the defense played pretty well."
Even though the Rockets are a step down in the competition compared to Georgia, this week's hosts didn't shy away from the pressure of playing the Buckeyes on the road and chances are the squad will come out with the same intensity this time around as well.
Toledo's defense limited the mighty Buckeyes to just 301 yards of total offense and permitted the hosts to convert just 3-of-12 on third down in the close call. The run defense held OSU to 112 yards, although the Buckeyes did pick up a pair of TDs on the ground.
The Toledo passing duo of Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens combined to hit 21- of-42 passes for 292 yards and two TDs, but the former was sacked three times and the latter tossed an interception. Taking the spotlight for the group was Eric Page who caught 12 passes for 145 yards and two TDs, adding a kickoff return of 42 yards and a successful pass for a two-point conversion in the first quarter. For his efforts, Page was named the Mid-American Conference West Division Offensive Player of the Week.
Unfortunately for the Rockets, they faced Ohio State without All-MAC linebacker Dan Molls who was out due to injury and during the game both linebacker Robert Bell and cornerback Desmond Marrow also took a seat on the bench because of their ailments, so there's no telling what the outcome could have been had Toledo been at full strength. Both Molls and Bell are missing from the early editions of the depth charts for this week, so again the Rockets might be under-staffed and you can bet that Boise State will recognize those holes in the defense and exploit them early and often.
"He's one of the best players I've ever seen or played against," Desmond Marrow says of locking up against Moore. "He's just a perfectionist. The way their (Boise State's) offense is run is like clockwork, they're just a very disciplined team and when they come out they're very sound on offense...so as a defense we have to be sound and stay in our lanes and get pressure on the quarterback."
It may sound like a simple idea, the manner in which Marrow and the Rockets plan on slowing down the Boise State offense, but every team that Moore has gone up against has tried to counter him and it rarely seems to work. Last year was a perfect example as the Broncos lost just one game, by three points in overtime against Nevada, and still ranked second in the nation in scoring with more than 45 ppg.
While opponents like Toledo spend so much time focusing on how to slow down the Broncos, they tend to forget that BSU still has one of the most aggressive defenses in the country as well, one that was second in points allowed last year (12.8 ppg) and second in yardage permitted (254.7 ypg), so there's no easy way out for teams that clash with the Broncos this year.