Quarterbacks - Boise State
Marshall's Isaiah Green is strong and this is a close battle, but Boise State's Hack Bachmeier was super-impressive in his debut last week in Tallahassee. Bachmeier led the Broncos back from an 8-point deficit and passed for 400 yards in the process while leading the Broncos to a 600-yard offensive day. Green set a career-high in passing touchdowns with four last week.
Running backs - Marshall
Boise State's Robert Mahone was impressive last week and the Broncos used three backs in the contest, but the edge goes to Marshall on ability and experience. Tyler King and Brenden Knox each feature the skill-set of a gamechanger and were impressive in limited touches last week. Marshall's ground game needs to be strong if the Herd is to have a chance at an upset.
Wide receivers - Boise State
Both teams are in similar situations, having lost their top two pass-catchers from a year ago. Boise State's C.T. Thomas caught five passes for 103 yards last week while Khalil Shakir added eight catches for 78 yards and a score. Marshall was led by Corey Gammage, who caught five passes for 82 yards and a score in his debut while the tight ends also proved effective, which will be key in Boise.
Offensive line - Boise State
Like Marshall, the Broncos feature plenty of experience and talent up front, which is what has led their offense to have 1,000-yard rushers in nearly every season over the last decade. Ezra Cleveland leads the group at tackle with guard John Molchon and center Garrett Larson also proving to be strong up front. Marshall's veteran line has six guys with starting experience and 121 combined starts between them. Center Levi Brown is the leader up front as a four-year starter.
Defensive line - Marshall
The Herd's depth is an advantage as they make a long road trip to take on the Broncos. By rolling two, and sometimes, three different line groupings out in the course of a game, the defensive front stays fresh, which will help them in the fourth quarter. Getting pressure on Bachmeier is a must. For Boise State, defensive tackles Sonatane Lui and David Moa are a load.
Linebackers - Boise State
Riley Whimpey is the leader of the Broncos' second level and is returning as the veteran of the group after an ACL injury ended his 2018 season early. Ezekiel Noa, who gained experience last season once Whimpey went down, also starts for Boise State, giving the unit two bona fide linebackers. Marshall's Omari Cobb will now shift inside with Jaquan Yulee out for the season after a neck injury against VMI. He and Tavante Beckett will have to be solid against the run or Mahone will have a big day.
Secondary - Marshall
Both teams return lots of experience from last season and Marshall may also get back Brandon Drayton, who missed most of preseason camp and the VMI game while recovering from an undisclosed ailment. Freshman Micah Abraham will be tested in this contest as well. The Broncos return safeties Kekoa Nawahine and DeAndre Pierce to the mix, along with starting cornerback Avery Williams.
Special teams - Marshall
If there is one area where Marshall has a distinct advantage in this contest, it is in the special teams department, which is the pride of head coach Doc Holliday. Boise State kicker Eric Sachse was huge in the win over Florida State, hitting five field goals, but four of five were inside 36 yards. Kickoffs and punts are where the Herd could make its mark with Joel Velaquez not possessing an overly-powerful leg. That sets up the chance for kickoff and punt returns, which Marshall took advantage of last week with Talik Keaton's 67-yard punt return for a score.
Getting it done - Boise State
One thing that Boise State does well is possess the football. Florida State hit on big plays early, but the defense forced many three-and-outs that were followed by sustained drives, which wore down the Seminoles. Three-and-outs have been a problem for the Herd offense in the past, as well. The Broncos have won 17 consecutive home openers and the trip to Boise is not an easy one. The trip back may be a long one for the Herd, who falls 34-21 in Boise.
- Grant Traylor