The Mountain West Conference Championship will be on the line as the Boise State Broncos will take on the Hawaii Rainbows on the school’s iconic blue ‘Smurf Turf’. The Broncos are 11-1 SU this year and have been unfairly downgraded in all of the national polls for their 10/19 loss at BYU. The Boise/BYU rivalry has become extremely intense over the past decade, a fact that is likely lost on the Big 10 jock sniffing mainstream sports media. The Broncos didn’t exactly run away with the MWC Mountain despite a perfect 8-0 record as they faced a tough challenge from highly underrated Air Force (7-1 MWC 10-2 overall). The myopia that the national sports media has when it comes to the Mountain Time Zone is maddening though not particularly surprising.
Hawaii more or less backed in to the MWC Championship game as they finished tied at 5-3 with San Diego State though earned this berth due to a 14-11 win over SDSU on 11/23. The fact that the Rainbows struggled when they stepped up in class doesn’t bode well here–their four losses came to Boise State, Washington, Fresno State and Air Force. Credit for scrapping out a winning road record–a tough challenge given Hawaii’s unique travel issues–but they played only five games away from home and beat Nevada, UNLV and Colorado State.
With a similar pointspread and matchup dynamics to the 10/12/19 game between Boise and Hawaii the question becomes: Has anything happened since that game to change anything? It sure doesn’t look like it. Some have made the case for Hawaii keeping it close due to a ‘late reason commitment to defense’. The Rainbows went through a stretch in October and early November where they allowed 40+ points in four of five games. A narrow 42-40 home win over SJSU was followed with a 21-7 win at UNLV and a 14-11 win against San Diego State. Some have suggested that holding Army to 31 points is a ‘strong defensive showing’ though allowing 411 rushing yards not so much.
Another storyline that the lazy national sports media is largely oblivious to is the fact that Boise State has suffered a slew of injuries at quarterback this year. It got ridiculous in the first matchup against Miami after starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier was knocked out of the game–five different players took snaps at quarterback but the Broncos went about their business winning 59-37. Three different quarterbacks have seen significant playing time with all three throwing 9 TD passes each. Jaylon Henderson is the current QB and he might be the best of the bunch all around. He was the most efficient and threw only one interception.
Can’t see anything that changes the dynamic from the previous meeting except that Boise State is unlikely to play so many quarterbacks. Broncos aren’t a defensive juggernaut but they at least have a serviceable defense as opposed to Hawaii’s porous unit that allowed 50+ points three times this season. More of the same as the previous meeting as the Broncos roll again on their blue turf at Albertsons Stadium.