Sept. 18, 2017
BOISE, Idaho - The Boise State football team (2-1) will host a regular-season game against a school from the Atlantic Coast Conference for the first time in school history Friday, squaring off against Virginia (2-1) at Albertsons Stadium. Kick is set for 6 p.m., and the game will be nationally televised on ESPN2.
SERIES HISTORY: The schools have met once previously, a 56-14 Boise State victory at Virginia, Sept. 25, 2015, in quarterback Brett Rypien's first-career start.
NON-SATURDAY GAMES: Boise State is 54-16 all-time in non-Saturday games, including a mark of 46-10 during the regular season. On Fridays, Boise State is 29-10 all-time, including a 29-8 mark during the regular season.
VS THE ACC: Boise State is 2-1 all-time against the ACC, with wins against Virginia Tech (33-30; Sept. 6, 2010) and Virginia (56-14; Sept. 25, 2015) in the last two meetings. The only loss to the league came in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl, where the Broncos fell to Boston College (27-21; Dec. 28) on The Blue.
HOME WINNING STREAK: Boise State has won eight-consecutive home games, tied for the sixth-longest streak in the nation. Houston (16), Alabama (14), USC (12), Michigan (10) and Penn State (10) boast longer streaks than the Broncos, whose eight-game streak is tied with Colorado and Temple. The Broncos' last home loss came against Air Force, Nov. 20, 2015 (37-30).
WITH EXTRA TIME: The Broncos played the first game of this past week's national slate after being one of the final two teams on the field the week prior -- a triple-overtime match-up with Washington State. With the quick turnaround last week comes some extra time to prepare for this week's tilt against Virginia. Under Bryan Harsin, Boise State is 13-5 with more than seven days between games, including season openers and bowl games. Within the regular season, Boise State is 8-3 in such games. The Broncos are also 2-1 in bowl games under Harsin and 3-1 in season openers.
NONCONFERENCE HOME GAMES: Boise State has won 24-consecutive nonconference home games heading into this Friday's contest against Virginia at Albertsons Stadium, with the last loss coming against Boston College in the 2005 MPC Computers Bowl (27-21), on Dec. 28, 2005. The Broncos haven't lost a nonconference home game during the regular season since 2001 (Washington State), a streak of 32-straight such victories.
AGAINST THE AUTONOMOUS FIVE: Boise State will face two Autonomous Five teams in 2017, a season after going 2-1 against such programs in 2016. Last year, the Broncos defeated Washington State (31-28) and Oregon State (38-24) before falling to Baylor (31-12) in the Motel 6 Cactus Bowl.
This year, Boise State dropped a 47-44, triple-overtime decision at Washington State (Sept. 9), and welcomes Virginia to Albertsons Stadium this Friday. The Broncos are 14-7 against schools from the Autonomous Five since the start of the 2006 season, and have won fi ve of the past seven against such opposition. Boise State has also won 15 games against such schools since 2003, third-best among all Group of Five teams over that span (BYU and Navy are tied with 23 apiece). It should be noted that all seven of Boise State's losses to Autonomous Five schools since 2006 have come on the road or at a neutral site. Since notching its fi rst victory over a Power Five school, a 34-16 win over Iowa State in the 2002 Humanitarian Bowl, Boise State is 16-11 all-time in games against Autonomous Five teams, and 16-23 overall.
POWERED BY IDAHO: Boise State's defense, which ranks 39th in the FBS through Sept. 16 (315.7 yards allowed per game), features among its many high-level performers a pair of Idaho natives who have gotten off to an impactful start in 2017.
Riggins native Leighton Vander Esch, one of three season-long Bronco captains, has become a force at linebacker, ranking fourth in the nation and leading the Broncos with 12.0 tackles per game (36 total). That total includes 3.0 sacks, in addition to an interception and two forced fumbles. After setting his career high with 16 tackles, along with a sack and a forced fumble at Washington State (Sept. 9), Vander Esch followed with 13 tackles, another forced fumble and his fi rst interception of the season this past Thursday against New Mexico.
Meridian native Kekoa Nawahine, a sophomore safety, is an important piece in Boise State's young, fast, and aggressive secondary. This past Thursday, Nawahine assisted on four tackles, including one for loss, and scooped up Vander Esch's forced fumble and returned it 14 yards into Lobo territory, setting up Boise State's opening-drive touchdown. For the year, Nawahine has an interception and a fumble recovery to go with 20 tackles, tied for third on the team.
PIERCE BRINGS THE HAMMER: Another sophomore safety, DeAndre Pierce, has quickly turned heads with his hard hits and nose for the football. The son of nine-year NFL veteran Antonio Pierce (Washington, 2001-04; New York Giants, 2005-09), DeAndre was one of a group of Bronco freshmen to burn their redshirts in 2016, and in 2017 earned a starting spot in the secondary. Pierce has cemented his role in the secondary by ranking tied for third on the team in tackles (20), and leading the Broncos with 3.5 tackles-for-loss. This past Thursday against New Mexico, Pierce made a career-high 12 tackles (eight solo) with a game-high 2.5 tackles-for-loss.
ROH THE [REDACTED]: Redshirt senior tight end Jake Roh certainly "Roh-ed" the, er, maritime vessel (yeah, that's it!) in Thursday night's 28-14 win over New Mexico, scoring a career-high three touchdowns (two receiving, one rushing).
Roh hauled in two scoring tosses from Montell Cozart, the first a five-yard catch midway through the second quarter to give the Broncos a 14-7 lead, and the second with 3:11 left in the game to put the Broncos up 28-7. His second touchdown of the contest came on the ground, as Roh lined up at quarterback in the Wildcat, taking the direct snap and rushing six yards for his first-career rushing score.
Roh finished the game with three catches for 25 yards in addition to his two touchdowns through the air, and for the year the Mackey Award candidate has caught six passes for 45 yards and three scores.
COZART THE DUAL THREAT: Redshirt senior quarterback Montell Cozart, a graduate transfer from Kansas, got his fi rst start as a Bronco Thursday against New Mexico and again made effective use of his arm and legs in helping Boise State to a 28-14 win.
Cozart completed 15-of-19 passes for 137 yards and two touchdowns, while on the ground her was Boise State's top rusher with nine carries for 71 yards and another score, a 28-yard draw to cap the Broncos' opening drive.
On the year, Cozart has completed 68.8 percent of his passes (33-for-48) for 348 yards and five touchdowns, while on the ground he leads the Broncos with 179 yards and two touchdowns. Among FBS quarterbacks, Cozart's completion percentage ranks 22nd in the country, while his efficiency rating of 159.9 is 30th, and second in the Mountain West.