ServPro First Responder Bowl
Boston College enters this game as the 69th-ranked offense in the FBS’ 130 teams. They are averaging 404 yards per game, totaling up to 4,852 on the season. There isn’t a huge difference between rushing and passing yardage gained (~200 yards on the season) but they are managing to put up 32 points per game on average.
Passing: Boston College’s passing game does a little better on the road than it does at home as far as yardage, although their QB rating does dip away from home. Yards per attempt is barely (0.3 yards) different, favoring the road games, however the completion percentage increases about 6% at home. Their statistics for touchdowns, interceptions, and yardage is a little skewed by having played more home games than road ones (7 at home, 5 on the road). Accounting for that, they average slightly more passing touchdowns at home and slightly lower interception statistics at home, but far less than first glance would suggest.
Rushing: Boston College has been a run first offense especially when at home. They haven’t been nearly as prolific on the road, they average double the yards and touchdowns. There is a huge disparity in the number of carries at home (357)as opposed to on the road (201). That said, there’s really only a small (0.5) difference in yardage gained at home; so it’s seemingly related to a change in game plan rather than effectiveness. There’s a 60 yard difference in home and away gains by yardage.
Boston College’s defense comes in at almost the exact same position that their offense does, 65th in the nation. They allow on average 396 yards of offense against to go along with 25.7 points.They are allowing 247.9 passing yards per game along with 148.3 rushing yards per game. So far this defense has served them well, as they average a full 6+ points per game more than their opponents.
Passing: The Eagles give up about 60 yards of offense more through the air on the road. Taking the home and away game number disparity into account, they average fewer interceptions but are track to concede substantially more touchdowns. In only 5 away games they’ve given up 11 touchdowns compared to the 7 they’ve allowed (in 7 games) at home. That means they are allowing almost double the touchdowns on the road. Opponents QB rating also increases a full 27 points. To confound the problem even more, they lose on average a full sack per game on the road, but only average 0.2 interceptions less per game.
Rushing: Unlike the offense, there is almost no difference in quantities of teams facing them. The attempts and yards per carry are almost identical (difference of 0.1 yards per carry). The attempts per game, however, is very different (they played 2 more home games) with the defense facing about 7 attempts more per game on the road. There is almost a 3 to 1 ratio of touchdowns at home versus away.
Boise State, by comparison, is the 16th-ranked offense in the nation. They’ve managed 5,974 yards over the course of the season for an average of 460 yards per game. They have done the bulk of their damage through the air, with almost 3800 of those coming via the passing game and 2,178 rushing yards. On the season they’ve manage 35.4 points per game, with just under 170 rushing yards per game and just under 300 passing yards.
Passing: Despite only a few extra passing attempts on the road — this team is dominant. They average almost a full yard per attempt more on the road with substantially more touchdowns and fewer interceptions (in less games). Boise State’s QB rating goes up a full 20 points in route to an additional 7 points scored per game (39 on the road, 32 at home).
Rushing: The Bronco rushing attack struggles away from home (comparatively). Though some of the difference is probably explained by the 6 fewer rushing attempts away from home. However, the Broncos are about 0.5 yards per attempt less efficient, amounting to nearly a 40 difference and half the touchdowns on the road.
Boise State is not markedly better on defense than Boston College, as they are the 57th-ranked defense in the nation. On average they are giving up 356 yards per game in the form of 233 passing yards and 122.9 rushing yards en route to 22.1 points against. The difference between what Boise State scores and allows is 13+ points in Boise State’s favor.
Passing: The Broncos are slightly more generous in their passing game defense away from home. Part of the difference (of only about 10 yards) is due to 6 more passing attempts per home game. Their opponents QB rating also goes up a few points but not substantially. Technically they force more interceptions and allow more touchdowns at home (1 additional for each) but I’m thinking that had more to do with the extra home game than true home/road splits. The average 0.67 more tackles for loss on the road, totaling 6.75 and they maintain their sacks regardless of where the game is played at 3 sacks per game.
Rushing: Boise State doesn’t really have a major difference between their defense on the rushing game. They face about 8 more attempts per game on the road, however the difference between yards allowed per carry on average is 0.02 yards. They do allow slightly more touchdowns on the road. However, the extra game played on the road and the extra carries likely play a part in that difference. As a result of the extra carries they do allow about 40 yards more on the ground away from Albertson’s Stadium.
The game is played at the Cotton Bowl in Dallas, Texas with kickoff at 10:30 AM PST/1:30 PM EST). The neutrals are expecting at least 56 points to be scored, and indicate Boise State to be slight favorites.
Keys to a win for each side
- Force Boise State to run – The Eagles are a lot better against the run, and it definitely helps that they allow one-third the amount of touchdowns on the road. Add to that, Boise State loves to pass, and their rush game struggles away from home. The Eagles would have a huge advantage if the were able to make the Broncos one dimensional.
- Lose battles but win the war – The Boise State team is going to score, so the Eagles need to have realistic expectations of “stopping” them. The Eagles have had practice with this most of the season as their defense isn’t going to shut you out. However, they don’t need to – they just need the Broncos to score one point less than they do (and they are averaging holding opponents to six less points)
- Keep It Simple, Stupid (KISS)– Boston College doesn’t need to get into passing shootout; in fact, I would highly suggest they avoid it. They do, however, need to maintain some offensive balance. The best way to do this is short, simple passes and to stay away from riskier passes into coverage.
- Air it out – It’s been the bread and butter of Boise State for a long time. Keep up with tradition and throw some long passes.
- Assert themselves early and get ahead – This Eagles team isn’t built for a shootout, but the Broncos can play just about anyone’s game.
- Hold on to the rock – Limit turnovers, especially live ball ones that could lead directly to opposition points. The Broncos enter the matchup as sizable favorites for a reason, so they have to limit the opportunities to let the Eagles back into the game.