Virginia, Boise State meet for 1st time Friday night
The last game of Virginia's challenging September schedule is Friday night when Boise State comes to Scott Stadium. The Cavaliers beat William & Mary last week and hope that gives them something to build on.
The 35-29 triumph over the Tribe wasn't all that pretty. But it was secured with a defensive stand in the final minutes, something coach Mike London's team failed to do in a crushing loss to No. 6 Notre Dame a week earlier.
Virginia (1-2) led until the Fighting Irish completed a 39-yard touchdown pass with 12 seconds to play.
''Finishing and winning a football game, very, very important,'' London said. ''But now wanting more.''
Boise State (2-1) knows all about crushing losses. The Broncos led BYU 24-21 until the Cougars completed a 35-yard touchdown pass with 45 seconds to play. An interception return touchdown followed in a 35-24 loss.
The Broncos also are coming east without starting quarterback Ryan Finley, who broke a bone in his foot last week. Coach Bryan Harsin plans to use two quarterbacks: freshman Brett Rypien and sophomore Thomas Stuart.
Rypien is a classic drop-back passer; Stuart is more of a dual threat. Harsin was pleased with how each performed last week after Finley got hurt. Stuart completed 9 of 13 passes for 69 yards and added another 46 yards on the ground, and Rypien was 8 of 9 for 126 yards and led four scoring drives in a 52-0 win against Idaho State.
Their contrasting styles may cause Harsin to tinker with the offense, he said.
''We're not going to go with two different offenses,'' Harsin said, ''but we may have some packages in there that complement one guy more. We really didn't have that the last game. We had the Finley package.''
The Broncos' offense typically looks a lot like what Virginia tries to do, Harsin said.
''The nice thing about that is our defense gets a chance to see it. The difficult thing is we also think what we do is difficult to prepare for,'' he said.
Some things to watch when Boise State plays at Virginia:
RYPIEN'S TURN: While Harsin has made clear he plans a two-quarterback system going forward, it's clear that when the Broncos want to run more traditional offense, it'll be Rypien under center. Last week he played the second half and became the first true freshman to play quarterback for the Broncos since Tony Hilde in 1993.
RELYING ON THE RUN: With questions at quarterback, the Broncos could use another big game from their stable of running backs. Boise State scored six touchdowns rushing against Idaho State and 10 of its 12 TDs on the season have come on the ground. Jeremy McNichols already has seven touchdowns rushing. While he's not putting up huge yards per game on the ground, he's filling the scoring production lost when Jay Ajayi left after last season.
THORPE FACTOR: Virginia expected wide receiver T.J. Thorpe to be a major playmaker heading into the season. That plan was disrupted when Thorpe broke his clavicle before the season. Thorpe was expected to be out up to 10 weeks, but he returned last week and saw limited action in the victory against William & Mary.
''Having him back is just a huge deal, and I can't wait to play with him,'' quarterback Matt Johns said.
UNDER THE LIGHTS: Virginia is playing its eighth night game under coach Mike London and is 5-2 in the first seven. The Cavaliers are 34-16-1 in night games overall. Boise State will be playing an ACC school for just the third time. The Broncos lost to Boston College in 2005 and beat Virginia Tech in 2010.