LOGAN — Idaho is a state known for its wide-open spaces, and Boise State apparently brought some of that room to help its receivers operate during Saturday night’s game at Utah State.
Averaging just 197 yards passing per game, the Broncos’ passing game ignited against the Aggies, totaling a season-high 370 yards and five touchdowns through the air in BSU’s 41-14 victory at Maverik Stadium.
The Broncos (6-2 overall, 4-0 in the Mountain West) have won four straight games, while the Aggies (2-3, 4-5) have dropped their first three conference home games of the season.
“It wasn’t a good night for the Aggies,” USU coach Matt Wells declared. “Congratulations to Boise State, they played well. We just didn’t, in both phases, offense and defense. We never could get anything going, and that falls squarely on me. Obviously, I didn’t have them ready to play. They didn’t play very well.
“And (the Broncos) are a good team. I thought they came out and dominated from the get-go, and we never could get anything going.”
Boise State had great success with its dual-quarterback system, which features junior quarterback Mark Rypien and senior Montell Cozart, a graduate transfer from Kansas. Rypien completed 19 of 27 attempts for 260 yards and three touchdowns, while Cozart went 5 for 7 for 110 yards and two touchdowns.
Thanks to a 110-yard game by sophomore running back Alexander Mattison, the Broncos ended up totaling 533 yards of offense to just 279 for the Aggies.
Freshman quarterback Jordan Love, who made his second career start Saturday night for the Aggies, completed 17 of 32 passes for 168 yards and one touchdown.
Sophomore tight end Dax Raymond (five receptions for 30 yards) and junior wide receiver Ron’Quavion Tarver (three catches for 77 yards and one touchdown) were Love’s top two targets. However, the Aggies struggled all night against the 10th-best run defense in the nation, as the Broncos held the Aggies to 93 yards rushing, their second-lowest output of the season.
“We made a couple of halftime adjustments, but we didn't sustain anything,” Wells said. “ It wasn’t a very consistent effort on offense.”
An all-Mountain West first-team selection as a freshman and sophomore, Rypien has been relatively quiet this season and had just two touchdown passes heading into Saturday’s contest. Facing the Aggies and blessed with a plethora of wide-open receivers, Rypien equaled that total in the first quarter alone, throwing touchdown passes of 19 and 12 yards to stake the Broncos to a 14-0 advantage just eight minutes into the game.
“I thought Brett got on fire,” Wells said. “And I thought we were soft in the secondary at times, and we gave them too much cushion.”
Utah State, which also trailed 14-0 in last week’s game at UNLV, finally responded late in the first quarter when, aided by a couple of big Boise State penalties, Love lofted up a pass to Tarver for a 2-yard touchdown pass to get the hosts back to within 14-7.
Although the USU defense managed to slow down the Broncos’ offense in the second quarter, the Aggies were unable to do much when they had control of the football and Boise State ended up taking advantage. Cozart came in to throw a 3-yard touchdown pass to Mattison, and with 42 seconds left before halftime, Rypien surpassed his season TD total with his third touchdown of the half, a 22-yard pass that tight end Jake Roth snagged in the end zone.
“Defensively, we didn’t play very well,” said freshman safety Baron Gajkowski, who ended up with a career-high 11 tackles. “We had our game plan, but unfortunately we didn’t execute it. We’ve got to play better as a defensive secondary. It just wasn’t our night.”
Trailing 28-7 at halftime, the Aggies didn’t help their cause by quickly going three-and-out on their opening possession of the second half. Boise State, conversely, embarked on a nine-play, 77-yard drive capped by a 35-yard strike from Cozart to Roh that left the Broncos comfortably ahead 35-7.
But just when it looked like the Aggies were out of the contest, Love quickly engineered a nine-play, 75-yard drive that was capped by a 1-yard run by running back LaJuan Hunt. The key moment came the play before when on fourth and 8 from the 19, Love found Tarver for an 18-yard gain.
Trailing 35-14, Wells elected to attempt an onside kick to keep the momentum going, but BSU covered up the kick and the Aggies generated very little offense over the final quarter and a half.
Thanks to UNLV’s 26-16 upset of Fresno State Saturday night, the Broncos are now the only team in the Mountain West that hasn’t lost a conference game. Boise State hosts Nevada (1-7, 1-3) on Nov. 4, while the Aggies play at New Mexico (3-5, 1-4) that same afternoon.