Virginia quarterback Kurt Benkert seeks an encore performance after a record-setting effort last week when he leads the Cavaliers into a Friday night matchup at Boise State, which trounced Virginia two seasons ago in Charlottesville. Benkert threw for a school-record 455 yards in a 38-18 win against Connecticut last Saturday, displaying an aggressive approach the team will need to succeed under the lights in Boise.
“The (blue) turf is one thing, but the style of play,” Cavaliers coach Bronco Mendenhall told reporters. “Boise is always really aggressive at the beginning of the game. ... You have to start fast, and you have to be really resilient, especially early, to play well there.” Mendenhall lost twice at Albertsons Stadium while coaching at BYU and he’s seen footage of the Broncos’ 56-14 rout in Virginia on Sept. 25, 2015. The current unit in Boise State rebounded from a triple-overtime loss to Washington State by producing a 28-14 win over New Mexico in its Mountain West Conference opener Sept. 14. Senior Montell Cozart stepped into the starting role in place of Brett Rypien and threw for two touchdowns while running for another as the Broncos survived an uncharacteristically sluggish effort that produced just 264 total yards.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2. LINE: Boise State -11.5
ABOUT VIRGINIA (2-1): Three different receivers had at least 122 yards and a touchdown last week, led by Doni Dowling (136 yards). Benkert completed 30-of-40 passes and enters this week’s action fourth among ACC quarterbacks in completion percentage (66.2) while sitting third in both yards per game (325.3) and TD passes (seven). Junior running back Jordan Ellis had a season-high 95 yards on the ground and found the end zone for the third straight game.
ABOUT BOISE STATE (2-1): Rypien (undisclosed injury) had a streak of 25 consecutive starts snapped last week, a run that started when he threw for 321 yards and three TDs at Virginia two season ago. “He’s practicing, he’ll practice today and we’ll see where he’s at through practice,” Broncos coach Bryan Harsin told reporters Monday. “He’s back out there, threw some last week.” Both Rypien and Cozart have leaned heavily on senior wideout Cedrick Wilson (16 catches, 276 yards), while senior tight end Jake Roh matched his career total with three touchdowns (one rushing) against New Mexico.
1. Boise State DT David Moa was arrested Saturday on a charge of disturbing the peace and Harsin would not comment on whether the junior would play Friday.
2. Cavaliers RB Olamide Zaccheaus has 21 catches over the past two games and needs two more to become the 21st player in program history with 100 career grabs.
3. Boise State forced five turnovers and had four sacks in its win at Virginia two years ago.
PREDICTION: Boise State 27, Virginia 21