Here's how Idaho Press Boise State beat writer B.J. Rains and sports columnist Mike Prater graded a 20-17 overtime win against Wyoming late Saturday night at Albertsons Stadium.
The Broncos had just 120 yards at the half, their lowest in the first half this season, and finished with just 285 - their lowest in a win since 2017. The first drive of the game was great, but Boise State's offense really struggled to gain traction after that. Coach Bryan Harsin blamed some of the issues on the play calling. Backup Chase Cord was OK but not great, and his late interception nearly cost them. Hank Bachmeier is expected back next week.
Boise State opened with its best drive of the season (12 plays, 92 yards, TD). The offense was miserable the rest of the night. Blame: Hank Bachmeier (take care of your body). Chase Cord (no time for the passing game). Run game (non-existent). Coaching (playing-calling flat after first drive). Line (just plain horrible). Wyoming's defense (just plain better). One bright spot, the difference-maker in this game - Boise State was 4-for-4 in the red zone.
The Broncos came up with a huge fourth-down stop in the final minute of regulation, and kept the Cowboys out of the end zone in overtime to secure the win. Wyoming entered ranked No. 14 nationally in rushing offense, but Boise State limited them to 123 rushing yards on 44 carries - more than 100 yards below their season average of 240 yards. The Broncos didn't have any turnovers, but played well enough to make up for the struggles on offense.
Good enough to keep the offense in the game, but not good enough overall against another backup quarterback/average offense. Wyoming's run game was fairly productive, and the Cowboys' passing game was timely. The Broncos created no turnovers again. A fourth quarter stop with 31 seconds left in regulation gave the offense a chance to win the game but that didn't happen without extra work. Boise State did stop Wyoming on five plays in OT.
Eric Sachse made a pair of important field goals, including a 28-yarder in overtime that proved to be the game-winner. He also made a 40-yard kick in the third quarter. Joel Velazquez had two 50-plus yard punts but also had trouble with two snaps, and led to just a 19-yard punt. Avery Williams also partially blocked a Wyoming punt. It was a fairly solid game on special teams, although the Broncos didn't do a ton in the return game.
Nothing special, nothing bad. John Hightower had 61 yards on three kickoff returns, Avery Williams was shut down on punt return and inconsistent punter Joel Velazquez was solid (41.2 average, two inside the 20, two of 50+), as long as he can hold onto the football. Eric Sachse had a 40-yarder in regulation and the clutch 28-yard game-winner in OT.
Harsin put much of the blame for the offensive struggles on the offensive coaching staff and in particular the play calling. He said "I think we could have done some things play selection wise that would have helped our guys a little bit more." The offensive line again struggled, and Harsin voiced as much frustration with that group as he has all season, saying that group "should be better" than what they've done so far. The defensive coaches deserve some credit for a pair of huge stops late in the game, but overall it was another not-overly impressive win.
Bryan Harsin avoided a loss to a double-digit underdog, something that's hurt his tenure at Boise State. The team looked prepared at the start - not always the case this season - but faded hard after that. Injuries played a role and depth is becoming an issue. And Wyoming is good/tough. But this team was flat. The creative play-calling after the first drive disappeared. And the offensive line has massive issues.
Boise State has lost as at least a 13-point favorite in each of Harsin's previous five seasons at Boise State, and it nearly happened again. Give Wyoming some credit. They played hard and did some things defensively that frustrated the Broncos. But this team didn't look anything like a top 25 team, and especially one that is in need of style points to compete with Memphis and Cincinnati in the Group of Five race. The Broncos avoided a potential disaster and won to keep goals of a Mountain West title and a spot in the Cotton Bowl alive, but this team has a number of issues. They've yet to play a complete game, and at this point in the season, that's a problem.
Harsin had this to say after the BYU loss last month, the Broncos' only loss of the season: Wins are "like deodorant, right? It just kind of covers up the stuff that stinks.'' Boise State stunk Saturday night, plain and simple, even with a win. Boise State has two weeks to prepare for Utah State. Boise State has three games remaining to impress the CFP. Boise State has a ton of work to do.