Top 25 Matchup: (16) Oregon @ (14) Boise State

Steve O Speak

With both teams ranked in the top 25 and the higher seed (according to the AP poll, they are flipped in the USA Today poll) at home it would seem like the smart pick would be the Boise State Broncos, but I think the Cinderella team is going to have their hands full tonight. As much as I love the Broncos I can’t pick them over the Ducks tonight. It boils down to one major ‘BIG’ reason, 6’2″ 240 lbs. senior running back LeGarrette Blount. Despite sharing time with Jeremiah Johnson last year, Blount still managed to rush for over 1,000 yards and lead the team with 17 touchdowns. Blount’s size makes him a power back, but before you label him a “three yards and a cloud of dust” running back, remember he averaged 7.3 yards per carry last season. Joining Blount on offense is the dual threat junior quarterback Jeremiah Masoli. Masoli proved last year that he could handle the Oregon offense and really sparked the Ducks success. The Ducks weakness on offense is their receivers, but Masoli finds a way to make big plays regardless of who he’s throwing the ball to.

The Broncos aren’t without hope though. They return one of the most intriguing college quarterbacks in redshirted sophomore Kellen Moore. Moore last season took the college world by storm, by throwing for almost 3,500 yards and 25 touchdowns. He was extremely efficient with a completion percentage of 69.4 that led to a 157.11 QB rating (which ranked 11th in the nation). They also have a pair of quick running backs that could give the Ducks some problems on the perimeter in juniors James Avery and D.J. Harper. The Boise State defense has some weaknesses in the front 7, but their strong secondary should give Masoli fits.

Overall I think Oregon’s ground game will be too much for the Broncos to handle. I don’t think they have the speed to contain Masoli, or the talent up front to stop Blount. While Moore and company should keep Boise State in the game, I think Oregon’s talented line backing corps will stifle the Broncos’ ground game. Also I think the Ducks should be able to get solid pressure on Moore that should keep him from being the winning quarterback. I think it will be a close high scoring game overall, with the Ducks coming out ahead 38-31.

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