Pressure’s on Boise State in opener against Georgia

Boise's Kellen Moore is known for his accuracy as a passer. (Associated Press)

Boise's Kellen Moore is known for his accuracy as a passer. (Associated Press)

Months of waiting comes to an end Saturday for two football programs anxiously ready to open the season in the Chick-fil-A Kickoff Game in the Georgia Dome.

The University of Georgia, a long-storied program looking to regain its luster, takes on the high-flying Boise State Broncos, one of the nation’s winningest programs over the past five years but still lacking the respect that distinction normally would garner because of the weak sister conference they’ve been playing in.

What to make of this matchup? One thing’s for sure: Times have changed since these two programs last met in Athens in 2005 when Boise proved not yet ready for prime time against a Georgia team that went on to win the SEC championship. The Broncos come in with a gaudy record as one of the nation’s most prolific offenses last season and defensive stats nearly as impressive, while the Dogs are coming off one of their most miserable bowl performances ever, which ensured a losing season, but with a lot of promising new talent and, on paper at least, what should be a much improved defense.

For much of the college football world Boise’s numbers are a bit suspect because of the inferior competition they’ve faced most of the time, but they’ve countered that with impressive showings against the few major teams they’ve played the past few seasons, beating the likes of Oregon and Virginia Tech. And while Georgia looked pretty awful in the Liberty Bowl, in fact the Dogs were close for most of the game in nearly all their losses last season, unfortunately running out of gas in the fourth quarter too many times.

Changes in the strength and conditioning program and a new team mind-set have been aimed at specifically addressing that shortcoming. Now we’ll find out whether the Dogs can walk the walk as well as they’ve talked the talk in the offseason.

Georgia should have a size advantage, particularly in its defensive front against the Broncos’ offensive line, which could allow the Dogs to successfully disrupt quarterback Kellen Moore’s game, but Boise comes to Atlanta with a senior-laden team that has gotten used to winning. The Bronco seniors have only lost twice in their playing careers.

Aaron Murray was the bright spot for Georgia last season. (Associated Press)

Aaron Murray was the bright spot for Georgia last season. (Associated Press)

There are similarities in the two teams, despite the different results recently. Both have highly touted quarterbacks who are seen as playmakers, though Boise definitely has the edge in Moore, a Heisman Trophy finalist who’s thrown only nine interceptions in the past two seasons and who this season likely will take over the winningest college quarterback title that Colt McCoy took from UGA’s David Greene a couple of seasons ago. Georgia’s Aaron Murray had a freshman season that was more impressive than the team’s won-loss record, and is probably more of a threat with his feet than Boise’s Moore is.

Both teams like to run the ball and throw off play-action, though the Broncos offense tends to be a bit shiftier than what Mike Bobo operates and Boise has an experienced, productive back while Georgia doesn’t yet know for sure what it has at tailback other than very high hopes for Isaiah Crowell. Both teams are having to replace their two leading receivers and have had to reshuffle their secondaries, though Georgia has more experience there than Boise. Georgia likely will have more team speed on defense than the Broncos have faced recently. And the Dogs definitely have the advantage in special teams, with the nation’s best punting and placekicking duo and a terrific return man in cocky Brandon Boykin.

Boise comes into the game the favorite, though only by 3 points. The fact that they’ll be playing before what amounts to a Georgia home crowd is no doubt a factor there, along with the fact that the oddsmakers probably are like everyone else in college football — still not sure how the Broncos stack up against a team from one of the elite conferences.

Clad in their brand-new Nike Pro Combat uniforms, both teams have something to prove Saturday night. Georgia wants to reclaim its former place in the national spotlight and get its fan base excited. But the stakes are decidedly higher for Boise State in this game. Georgia’s main emphasis this season will be trying to compete for the divisision title in a weaker than normal SEC East. The Dogs can lose Saturday night and still accomplish most, if not all, of their season goals.

But for Boise’s hopes of being in the BCS national championship conversation come season’s end, the game against Georgia is do or die. They’re in a new conference, but still one that doesn’t have an automatic BCS qualifying spot. Lose, and the Broncos probably will be butting their heads against the glass ceiling again, no matter how well they do the rest of the season.

Georgia, meanwhile, is in a position where its players can actually just have fun playing football again.

I think Georgia can knock off Boise State, if all goes according to Mark Richt’s plan and the Dogs play a full four quarters up to their potential. But, unlike with Boise, it won’t be a crushing blow for the Dogs if doesn’t happen.

Agree or disagree? Feel free to sound off and offer your own view of Georgia vs. Boise State.

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250 comments Add your comment

Janet Amos

September 2nd, 2011
10:51 am

GO BRONCOS!!!!!!!

Tater Tot

September 2nd, 2011
10:52 am

GO DAWGS !!!!!!………Second..LOL

BG

September 2nd, 2011
10:56 am

GO DAWGS! GATA!

sam

September 2nd, 2011
11:00 am

Sorry dog fans…..not gonna happen

Truth

September 2nd, 2011
11:05 am

UCF 10
UGA 6

Mtn Dawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:07 am

I think the DAWGS win but it’ll be close. 28 – 24.

Dawg Fan

September 2nd, 2011
11:08 am

Very impressive on being first Janet.

But the Dawgs are going to roll.

Mtn Dawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:08 am

I mean, the DAWGS WILL win 28 – 24.

italian_29

September 2nd, 2011
11:08 am

I agree the the Dawgs could still accomplish their main goal, SEC East title and another trip to the dome, but I think that if they lose to Boise State that it is a major imbaressment to the program. It doesn’t matter that Boise is higher ranked and the favorite, lose and everyone will trash talk about the program. I think this game is a loose loose situation for the Dawgs, Win and you were supposed to, lose and take ridicule from the rest of the nation. I think that Alabama is still taking crap about their loss to Utah. :(

JDAWG

September 2nd, 2011
11:09 am

just line up and bust them in the mouth every play. The score will take care of its self. Go Dawgs GATA!!!

a Robertson

September 2nd, 2011
11:09 am

Boise State will lose to Georgia’s elite defense and win the rest of the season guaranteeing yet another year of whining from the Bronco’s faithful.

Im not sure why it isnt stated but there are plenty of teams out there with great records that never get discussed in BCS terms. The only reason the Broncos get the spotlight is uber rich whiner alumnus.

One last thing. Kellen will lose 3 or 4 million dollars annually by not going pro this year. Someone must of convinced him that Boise goes all the way and he makes 5+ million more than he wouldve.

Greed’s a killer.

Sorry to be that guy..

September 2nd, 2011
11:10 am

3rd paragraph… “ensure” not “insure”. Its the difference between a guarantee and State Farm.

Mtn Dawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:10 am

@Truth – You’re living in the past. Since your’e going there, the Broncos were better last year than they will be this year. It’ll be bye-bye smurfs at the Dome.

Sorry to be that guy..

September 2nd, 2011
11:10 am

Flat Tire on I-95 in Jacksonville

September 2nd, 2011
11:10 am

How will it not be a crushing blow Bill

A storied program against a program that is all hype and was unheard of 10 years ago give me a break.

Sorry but until this team plays at least 4 top 25 caliber programs every season they will never get respect from me. Any team can get up for 1 game

If UGA gets beat by more than 10 points tommorrow it tells me we are no good and a 500 season is on the way

italian_29

September 2nd, 2011
11:11 am

Damn, lose lose, not loose loose. Sorry Grammer Police.

swampjacket

September 2nd, 2011
11:12 am

No question it’s a bigger game for Boise…Only real negative for Georgia would be a “bad” loss..And as much as I would love to see it, It ain’t gonna happen….S. Car. is the game that matters, and UgA loses that one, as well as UF and GT!! If Dawgs go 9-3 with those losses is that enough to keep Richt?

59bulldawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:13 am

Just run, block, kick, punt, catch, and tackle . . . and do it well . . . without anyone getting hurt . . . and we win by 14.

italian_29

September 2nd, 2011
11:14 am

You and I are on the SAME PAGE Flat Tire. I think this would be a CRUSHING blow for UGA to lose to Boise for all the reason I listed above, not to mention the reasons that you listed.

59bulldawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:15 am

And I should have added throw as well.

Dawgtownrambler

September 2nd, 2011
11:15 am

31-14 DAWGS!!! Take that to the bank!!!

WDE

September 2nd, 2011
11:17 am

Bill that sums it up nicely as bad as I would like to win this one Boise certainly has more to lose. Great article and now let’s GATA …Go Dogs!

italian_29

September 2nd, 2011
11:17 am

If CMR lose to USCe, Fl, and the you guys swampjacket, NO!!!! It isn’t a good enough season to keep CMR. However, I don’t think that happens and based on the past, I have at least a 90% chance of being right about at least one win. Hey congrats on your Impressive win last night.

Karl Hungus

September 2nd, 2011
11:20 am

Dawgs win 74-3

BMDPD

September 2nd, 2011
11:21 am

I would like to contribute to this with an extremely intelligent comment…….GO YOU HAIRY DAWGS! HUNKER DOWN!

Bill King

September 2nd, 2011
11:25 am

Sorry … guy:

Thanks for the sharp eye.

Butt juice in my corn

September 2nd, 2011
11:25 am

Boise has 100% all pressure, lose season over. BAM! How much more pressure do you need?

papadawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:26 am

Well one thing is for sure, either the DAWGS will go back to Athens with tails between their legs or a whole lot of anti DAWG fans will be eating DAWG POO

TDK_Dawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:26 am

Go Dawgs! Kellen is gotta get drilled by Big Kwame and Jenkins!

Shawn

September 2nd, 2011
11:27 am

Dawgs win this eeeeeaasssyyyy 48-21!

Birmingham Jacket

September 2nd, 2011
11:27 am

That picture looks like you fell off a donkey at a peanut farm in Albany.

To actually postulate a mediocre UGA team stands a chance against a top 10 football program like Boise seems like you bonked your head!

7576DAWG

September 2nd, 2011
11:30 am

I get the feeling that the money would like to see someone other than an SEC team playing for the national title this year. It want matter what they want if there is a dominate team in the SEC but if it is as weak and vulnerable as last year the SEC winner can’t lose more than one game this year. It would be nice if UGA could eliminate Boise State the first week from any further consideration. If Boise State beats Georgia I think they will go undefeated and because they have a senior team and a lot of people want to see someone other than an SEC team in the championship game they will take up one of the spots for the championship game. Since Texas is rebuilding and Southern Cal is on probation the other team would be Florida State , Oklahoma or a Big Ten team. So a lot could be riding on the Georgia, Boise State game.

cb

September 2nd, 2011
11:31 am

Dawgs have plenty of pressure, too. If they come out and get blasted, how does that not affect them the rest of the year. They will lose to USCe next week without a doubt. They need to get this W against BSU to atleast be 1-1 and not start out 0-2 and once again be the laughing stock of the SEC.

Douglas Dawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:32 am

No excuses…. we gotta whip that a**

swampjacket

September 2nd, 2011
11:35 am

italian_29 True dat, but history certainly works against you with one of those too! And thanks about last night…Numbers were impressive, but didn’t really prove anything.

AltamahaDawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:36 am

Bill, after dissecting this a dozen times this summer, you summarized it perfectly in this one.

WDE

September 2nd, 2011
11:37 am

Seems to me some folks aren’t thinking this thru Boise has to win to get a BCS shot…moreover they have to beat UGA and then have UGA have a decent season. If we lose to Boise and then stink the rest of the season they have gained nothing. That is why beating us is just step one they have to beat us and we have to have a decent season to improve how the “experts” view their strength of schedule.

2010 BCS CHAMPS

September 2nd, 2011
11:38 am

Best of luck to the dawgs this weekend! Make the SEC proud!

2010 BCS CHAMPS

September 2nd, 2011
11:41 am

” I think that Alabama is still taking crap about their loss to Utah.”

Not to mention, Louisiana Monroe. LOL

AltamahaDawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:46 am

I say this out of admission of my own ignorance, but also just goes to show the differences in interest levels. Our blogs have more comments from tech fans today thier thiers I am guessing. Conversely most Dawgs fans, (as I did) probably had to out and search it, to confirm that tech actually played a game last night. Realizing I am behind on this: Really? Really? Thursday night, not on TV. WTH?

Ohio Dawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:46 am

Great read. Looks like it’s gonna be a close one. Kinda worried about our defense and the offenses big play capability. Go Dawgs!!!!

blueanorange51

September 2nd, 2011
11:48 am

Dawgs, the pressure BSU faces in this game is exactly the same as they face EVERY year. To POTENTIALLY reach a BCS bowl they have to be perfect EVERY game. September 3 this year is no different than every game last year – and the year before. By the way – Thanks to UGA for making this game happen. BSU fans appreciate your football tradition – your program is where we want to be. We are getting there – one step at a time.

red hill

September 2nd, 2011
11:52 am

Not so. Pressure is on Richt and his staff. McGarity played this one beautifully. His job will be very easy at seasons end. Boise will play like their hair is on fire and we will play like we have other things to worry about.

DawginLex

September 2nd, 2011
11:53 am

The pressure is clearly on Coach Richt.

Regardless of what he says or what Bill says.

Think about it.

Lose this game and most likely SC beats us.

That will make us 6-9 over the last 15.

6-9 will be Murray’s record as a starting QB and even though we love him and can see his talent, he will still be 6-9.

We have to win this game. Period.

All the changes, all the talk and all the recruits mean NOTHING if we lose to Boise.

I don’t care how many games they have won.

We have to win.

Old Old Dawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:54 am

Boise is very good, and the Dawgs are a mystery. Dawgs haven’t beaten a top 5 team in forever. Boise always wins its opener, always. Boise has an all world quaterback who should be able to outsmart the Dawgs easily. The media says that Boise wants it badly. Everything, and I mean everything points to a Bronco win, and that’s why they won’t. These Dawgs won’t cooperate with the naysayers. This isn’t last year’s team. Dawgs prevail and get ready for the Old Ball Coach while all the techies puke.

FIGHT LIKE A DOG!

September 2nd, 2011
11:55 am

AltamahaDawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:56 am

If your conclusion is that Mcgarity planed this game so that it was was easier to fire Richt at the end of the year, that was about the most bassackward way to do that, and it has completely backfired irrespective of the W/L tomorrow.

AltamahaDawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:56 am

Why would losing tomorrow man that SC beats us?

AltamahaDawg

September 2nd, 2011
11:58 am

Arguably it would be the other way around.

Shane

September 2nd, 2011
11:58 am

Go Broncos! I’m a BSU guy, but BSU fans stop bringing up last year. This is a very good Georgia team that could easily have been a 10 win team last year. This is going to be a very tough game! I totally respect what Georgia is bringing to the field. Hopefully, for my hearts sake, we can pull this one out, but I’m sure we’ll all be on the edge of our seats for a great game!