by Greg Davis - 12/09/2005
For the forth time in seven years Boise State will have the privilege of playing a bowl game on their home field -- the same home field that has seen them win 31 straight games. If they are able to extend that to 32 they will have to beat arguably their toughest challenger to date since the streak began.
Boston College also has a streak of its own as they have won five straight bowl games - which is the longest active streak in the country.
The ESPN televised game scheduled for Dec. 28 will feature the high-powered offensive attack of Boise State versus the tough, stingy defense of Boston College.
Unranked Boise State (9-3, 7-1) is led by junior quarterback Jared Zabransky, who shook off a miserable season opening loss at Georgia where he threw four interceptions and lost two fumbles in the first half before being benched.
His overall numbers are impressive despite his early season struggles as he has thrown for 2,283 yards while completing nearly 60 percent of his passes. The most impressive thing about this offense is its balance. The Broncos average 216 yards rushing per game and 215 yards passing. Their running back by committee features senior RB Lee Marks, who led the team in rushing with 735 yards while averaging six yards per carry and is complemented by freshman Ian Johnson (653 yards, 4 TD's). Zabransky is also adept at running the ball with 10 of his 100 carries going for touchdowns.
Boise comes into this game averaging more than 37 points per contest overall with an amazing 48 points average per home game. However, it was a home schedule that featured only one Bowl bound team. Overall, Boise was just 1-2 against Bowl teams with lopsided losses to Georgia and Fresno State, who ended their 30 game WAC Conference winning streak.
Although Boston College (8-3, 5-3), ranked No.19 nationally, managed to put up at least 30 points five times this year, this is a team that wins with defense. In eight out of eleven games they held their opponent to 17 points or less. They are led by All-American defensive end Mathias Kiwanuka, who will be a major cause for concern for Boise coach Dan Hawkins.
Kiwanuka is that rare defensive player that can dominate a game as he did against NC State in his final home game tallying 3.5 sacks and 5.5 tackles for a loss. Offensively, the Eagles have gone back and forth between senior quarterback Quinton Porter, who began the year as the starter, and sophomore Matt Ryan. Both have enjoyed their share of success with each completing more than 63 percent of their passing attempts.
They also have a balanced rushing attack led by sophomores L.V. Whitworth (748 yards, 5 TDs) and Andre Callender (651 yards, 3 TDs). Playing in their first year as a member of the ACC, Tom O'Brien's squad managed a 5-3 conference mark with losses to Florida State, Virginia Tech and a disappointing upset loss to North Carolina. The Eagles faced six Bowl bound teams posting a 4-2 record in those games.
It will be interesting to see the mindset of these teams coming into this game. One could make the argument that as the third seed coming out of the powerful ACC, Boston College was slighted in the Bowl selection process and deserved a much more appealing destination (not to take anything away from the city of Boise).
However, certain teams have been known to rally around the perception that they have been disrespected. Boise State is a team that knows all too well about a lack of respect. Although they have dominated the WAC the last few years, they have not really come close to obtaining that elusive BCS Bowl bid. Their best chance may have been last year as they rolled to an 11-0 mark but had to settle for a berth in the Liberty Bowl, where they lost a shootout to Louisville 44-40.
Last year's game saw Fresno State come from behind to beat Virginia 37-34 in overtime.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's football picks service.