VIRGINIA CAVALIERS (2-1)
at BOISE STATE BRONCOS (2-1)
Albertsons Stadium – Boise, ID
Kickoff: Friday, 8:00 p.m. ET
Line: Boise State -13.0, Total: NA
UVA QB Kurt Benkert looks to stay hot on the road against a tough non-conference opponent.
Boise State entered its conference opener against New Mexico in what looked like a tough spot, as they had lost a triple-overtime heartbreaker to Washington State only five days earlier and were without QB Brett Rypien, perhaps the most talented quarterback in program history. Nonetheless, the Broncos converted a 14-7 halftime lead into a 28-14 home victory over New Mexico (NMU +17) last weekend to move to 2-1 (1-1-1 ATS). They stay in Boise for this weekend's game, a Friday-nighter against the Virginia Cavaliers. UVA is 2-1 (1-2 ATS) and riding high off of a 38-18 home victory over UConn last weekend. Like the Broncos, the Hoos were coming off a loss (34-17 vs. Indiana, IND -3.5). In the last five seasons, road teams with an experienced QB (UVA) are 134-72 when coming off a game in which they posted 525 or more yards. While only 6-9 ATS in his short tenure in Charlottesville, Bronco Mendenhall is 5-1 ATS in games following non-conference games as head coach of Virginia. Rypien is questionable to play in Friday's game as he continues his recovery from a concussion. BSU DL David Moa was arrested this past weekend, which would certainly seem to put his playing status in jeopardy—although no official announcement has been made.
In a 24-13 season-opening victory over Troy (BSU -11), Rypien completed 13 of 23 passes for 160 yards and an interception. QB Montell Cozart got significant action in that game, mostly through the wildcat formation, and outplayed Rypien in completing 6 of 9 passes for 50 yards and a touchdown, plus rushing eight times for 36 yards. He was forced into the full-time starter role, however, when Rypien suffered the concussion against Washington State. He put forth a strong performance in that game as well, going 12-for-20 for 161 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. He also led the team in rushing with 72 yards and a score on 14 carries. He was near-perfect in his most recent outing against the Lobos, going 15-of-19 for 137 yards and two TDs, plus rushing nine times for 71 yards and a touchdown. Considering that Rypien is the Broncos' returning starter and the most highly touted QB recruit to ever join the Broncos, it was a surprise when Cozart saw time in the opener. Seeing how well he has played, however, he is a lock to see continued snaps even when Rypien turns, whenever that may be. Behind Cozart, RBs Alexander Mattison (33 carries, 155 yards, 2 TDs) and Ryan Wolpin (37 carries, 115 yards) are the team's leading rushers. WR Cedrick Wilson (16 carries, 276 yards, 2 TDs) entered the season as one of the nation's most-respected veteran wideouts, and he has delivered early on with twice as many receptions as any other Bronco. TE Jake Roh (6 catches, 45 yards, 3 TDs) has proven to be an effective red-zone target.
To say that Virginia QB Kurt Benkert (66.2 CMP%, 7 TDs, 1 INT) had a good day against UConn last week would be a wild understatement. He dominated the Huskies defense for the entirety of the afternoon, completing 30 of his 40 passes on the day for 455 yards, three touchdowns and an interception. The yardage was the most through the air in Cavaliers history, which certainly will give a confidence boost to a senior quarterback who posted a 21-11 TD-INT line last year but is seldom mentioned among his conference's top signal-callers. His coaches have done a good job getting him in rhythm this season, as his completion percentage has jumped 10 percentage points but his YPA has only gone up to 6.73 from 6.29. That disparity is largely due to a ridiculous stat line against Indiana, when he was 39-for-66 for 259 yards and a TD. He already has three 200-yard receivers this season in converted RB Olamide Zaccheaus (26 catches, 250 yards, 2 TDs), WR Doni Dowling (17 catches, 236 yards, TD) and WR Andre Levone (8 catches, 207 yards, 2 TDs). Each went for over 100 yards and scored a touchdown against the Huskies, with Levrone's 73-yard score buoying his ridiculous early-season YPC. The Hoos would've been fine without their running game entirely in that one, but RB Jordan Ellis (54 carries, 219 yards, 3 TDs) kept the defense honest by carrying the ball 20 times for 95 yards and a touchdown. Zaccheaus got his first carries of the season in that one, carrying four times for 47 yards.