Fresno St.-Boise St. Preview
Boise State and Fresno State each rank among the nation’s
leaders when it comes to forcing turnovers. However, it’s been the
Bulldogs’ inability to hang on to the ball that has been the
problem during their recent struggles against the Broncos.
Two of the country’s most opportunistic defensive teams meet
Saturday when the No. 24 Broncos try for a seventh consecutive
victory over the Bulldogs in this Mountain West Conference matchup
Boise State (4-1, 1-0) recovered three fumbles and intercepted
two passes in last Saturday’s 40-14 win at Southern Mississippi,
its fourth consecutive victory following a 17-13 season-opening
loss at then-No. 13 Michigan State.
The Broncos are back in the Top 25 after a one-week hiatus that
followed a less-than impressive 32-29 win at New Mexico on Sept.
They’ve forced 13 of their 17 turnovers in the last three
“I’m not sure why we’re getting them – whether we’re just in the
right place at the right time or what,” coach Chris Petersen said.
“As long as they are coming like (last Saturday), we’re going to be
in every game and we have a chance to win most of them.”
The only school that’s forced more turnovers than Boise is
Fresno State (4-2, 2-0) with 18. Safety Phillip Thomas forced a
fumble and recorded his NCAA-leading sixth interception in the
Bulldogs’ 28-7 win at Colorado State last Saturday.
Fresno State also leads the country with 12 picks.
“We’re fast, physical and fanatical,” Thomas told the school’s
official website. “We’re out there to force turnovers and make big
plays. That’s what this defense is all about and that’s the type of
players we have on this team.”
It’s essential the Bulldogs’ defense continues that play while
their offense finds a way to hang on to the ball. Fresno, which
last beat the Broncos 27-7 at home in 2005, has committed 12
turnovers during a five-game skid at Boise.
The Bulldogs have been outscored 112-10 in their last two on the
“It’s going to be huge,” coach Tim DeRuyter said. “We know we’re
going against a team that has won a lot games, especially on their
Fresno State did not have a turnover at Colorado State after
committing eight in the previous three contests, but it’s given the
ball away 11 times while being outscored 220-51 in its last four
games overall in this series.
The Bulldogs committed four in last season’s 57-7 home loss to
Even if they’re able to reverse that turnover trend, the defense
must remain opportunistic against a Boise squad that’s turned the
ball over twice in two home games this year
Broncos quarterback Joe Southwick has thrown six touchdowns and
one interception in the last two games after throwing two of each
in the first three. Running back D.J. Harper was held to 47 yards
on 13 carries but scored twice at Southern Miss.
Harper, who has rushed for 274 yards with three TDs at home in
2012, has topped the 100-yard mark twice in four career contests
versus Fresno State.
Senior Mitch Burroughs caught four passes for 43 yards and
scored on a 25-yard run against the Bulldogs last season, but
Boise’s third-leading receiver and key return man will miss this
contest with a wrist injury.
“We just miss him as an all-around player,” Petersen said.
Though the Broncos have dominated this series of late, Fresno
State could present a challenge with an offense that leads the
Mountain West with 315.5 passing yards per game and has not scored
fewer than 25 points in any 2012 contest.
Derek Carr has thrown half of his 18 touchdowns in the last two
games but was 17 of 30 for 126 yards and an interception against
Boise State in 2011. Teammate Robbie Rouse ranks among the nation’s
leaders on the ground, averaging 118.5 yards with eight
He’s gained 195 yards on 34 carries without a TD in three games
against the Broncos.
Fresno State has lost 16 straight games against Top 25 opponents
since a 37-34 overtime win over No. 18 Virginia in the 2004 Champs