Start Time: Saturday, September 2nd, 3:45pm EST
Announcers: Mike Couzens (play-by-play) and John Congemi (analyst)
Location: Albertsons Stadium
Series: First ever meeting
Odds: Boise State (-10.5) 62.5 total
Expectations are sky high for the 2017 Troy football program and they’ll go through a huge test right away. Neal Brown enters year three as the head coach and it’s conference title or bust for the Trojans this fall. Troy has a chance on the opening weekend to pick up the Sun Belt’s best non-conference win of the season.
Brandon Silvers and the rest of the offense must step up to the challenge this weekend as it’s very likely that this contest turns into a shootout. Silvers will have a a lot of weapons to utilize as the quick passing game combined with the power runs from senior Jordan Chunn will give the Boise State defense a lot of problems.
Outside, we’ll finally get to see wide receiver Damion Willis who has been the surprise of Troy’s fall camp. Willis, a junior college transfer from East Mississippi, stands tall at six-foot-four and should give Silvers an excellent vertical threat. Along with senior Emanuel Thompson and junior Deondre Douglas, the Boise State secondary will have their hands full covering the Troy receivers.
The offensive line has been a big question all offseason and the depth chart released this week confirms that Troy will be sliding senior Steven Rowzee out to left tackle to replace stud Antonio Garcia. Troy will be starting three sophomores this season on the line and they will be tested early by a solid Boise State defensive front.
The strength of this defense will be in the secondary with safeties Cedarius Rookard and Kris Weatherspoon. There is not a better duo of safeties in the Group of Five. Blace Brown returns at corner after posting six picks last fall and expectations are high for the junior.
The front seven has some big questions to answer as Troy must establish a pass rush and sliding senior Seth Calloway out to defensive end will hopefully be a solution to this problem. At linebacker, Troy lost a ton as they’ll be depending on the talented sophomore duo of Zo Bridges and Tron Folsom.
Boise State Outlook
After spending one season as the head coach at Arkansas State, Bryan Harsin made the move to return to his alma mater and all he’s done is post a 31-9 record in three seasons. However, the Broncos have five combined conference losses in the last two years and the program has failed to win their division for two consecutive seasons. With Colorado State and Wyoming emerging, Boise State may have their most competition ever in the Mountain West.
Brett Rypien is entering his junior season and the Spokane, Washington gunslinger will have a shot at all of Kellen Moore’s program passing records. He’s due for another big year and Cedrick Wilson will be the primary benefactor. Wilson averaged over 20 yards per catch last season and scored 11 touchdowns in his first season over from junior college. The senior could become a superstar in 2017.
But after Wilson, there are a lot of question marks for the Broncos. Jeremy McNichols did it all at running back for the Broncos last season. This year Harsin will be leaning on sophomore Alexander Mattison after averaging nearly five yards per carry in limited reps with zero fumbles. The Broncos will need senior tight end Jake Roh to emerge a solid sidekick to Wilson in the passing game.
On defense, coordinator Andy Avalos gets only four starters back as the Broncos will be starting from scratch in a lot of places. The strength of this group will be upfront behind tackle David Moa and edge Jaril Frazier. The two juniors combined for 15.5 tackles for loss and 12.5 sacks last season. They will be the one pressuring Silvers all night.
It’s very unfortunate for college football fans across the country that this game is getting buried on ESPNU while Florida-Michigan and N.C. State-South Carolina are playing at the same time on ESPN’s bigger networks. This game has a chance to be the best of the day and you could make the case that this contest features the best quarterback battle in all of week one.
I believe Troy storms out of the gate and jumps out to an early two touchdown lead. The Boise State defense will have a hard time stopping the inside runs from Jordan Chunn and Troy’s quick passing game will cause problems early as the Boise State pass rush becomes a non-factor. However, Brett Rypien should have his way as long as the Broncos will be able to take care of the ball. Boise State comes storming back in the second half and this one comes down to the wire. It’s just hard to pick against the Broncos on the blue turf.
Prediction: Boise State 38, Troy 34