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Memphis football coach Ryan Silverfield didn’t bite when a reporter framed a question during a Monday news conference with the phrase “Boise’s not what it used to be.”
The two football programs will be meeting for the first time at 2 p.m. Mountain time Saturday at Liberty Stadium in Memphis, Tennessee, and Silverfield wasn’t about to downplay the Broncos.
“You think about traditional powerhouses and I think everybody, even recruits, know, man, Boise’s a big deal, and what they were able to accomplish, because I think everybody remembers their history and what they were able to do,” Silverfield said. “You look at that and say, ‘OK, man.’ When we got to Memphis, even eight years ago, Boise was the model of what you wanted your program to be.
“Boise was the one that did it the right way. They built their facilities. They did a lot of great things. Every non-Power 5 program modeled to do something like that. And one of the things they’ve been able to do is have continued success.”
Saturday will be a rare meeting for both teams across conference lines. Boise State has played just three teams from the American Athletic Conference in program history, beating Connecticut in 2014 and 2018, and losing to UCF in 2021 before its move to the Big 12.
Memphis beat Utah State 38-10 in the 2022 First Responder Bowl.
Saturday’s meeting is the first of a four-game series. The teams are scheduled to play again in 2026, 2030 and 2031.
“I think it’s a great opportunity,” Silverfield said. “We know that Boise State has long been considered one of the traditional powerhouses in the Group of 5 and a historied program that so many of us have tried to model over the years.”
WHAT TO WATCH FOR
Memphis and Boise State have defenses that have given up big plays and big drives regularly. Both have offenses built to exploit that. It figures to add up to a high-scoring game.
The Tigers yielded 542 yards of offense to Missouri last week, including 201 yards rushing. They gave up 432 yards the week before to Navy, including 299 on the ground as the Midshipmen’s triple-option offense ran wild. That should add up to really large doses of budding superstar Ashton Jeanty and, should he play, George Holani, and some designed Taylen Green runs for Boise State.
Memphis built its name on offense the past half-dozen years, but it hasn’t been as consistent as usual because of turnovers — QB Seth Henigan is completing nearly 70% of his throws and averaging about 276 yards per game, but he has five interceptions and only eight TD passes. The Tigers, who also have lost three fumbles, are still averaging 37 points per game, after averaging 35 last season. WRs Roc Taylor and Demeer Blankumsee, and RB Blake Watson, have 61 receptions for nearly 700 yards between them.
Minus the North Dakota game, Boise State’s defense is giving up 512 yards per contest. The Broncos simply have to be better, have to get more pressure on the QB and be more disruptive at the line of scrimmage, and can’t afford to have receivers blow by them for huge plays.
Boise State offensive line vs. Memphis defensive pressure
The Tigers are averaging 7 tackles for loss per game, have 10 sacks and have forced seven fumbles, six of them they’ve recovered.
Broncos QB Taylen Green, who has four interceptions, is barely completing 50% of his passes, and he has been the most inaccurate when on the run and throwing, which puts a premium on protection this week — even though the team would be wise to steer the bulk of its offense through the running game.
Boise State’s offensive line deserves kudos so far. Its run-blocking has been superb and Green has been sacked only three times. Center Garrett Curran has been very good, Mason Randolph returned last week, and redshirt freshmen Roger Carreon and Kage Casey have played well. The guys in the so-called trenches will have to be outstanding this week to limit Memphis from blowing up plays.
BOISE STATE AT MEMPHIS
When: 2 p.m. Mountain time Saturday
Where: Liberty Stadium (58,325, AstroTurf), Memphis, Tennessee
TV: ESPN2 (Beth Mowins, Kirk Morrison, Stormy Buonantony)
Radio: KBOI 670 AM/93.1 FM (Bob Behler, Pete Cavender)
Records: Boise State 2-2, 1-0 MW; Memphis 3-1, 1-0 AAC
Series: This is the first meeting between the two programs
Vegas line: Memphis by 3
Weather: High of 92 degrees, 7% chance of rain, 8 mph wind