Boise State vs. Nevada: Joe Southwick Will Lead Broncos to Share of MWC Title

Ryan DavenportContributor IDecember 1, 2012

BOISE, ID - OCTOBER 13:  Joe Southwick #16 of the Boise State Broncos sets for a play against the Fresno State Bulldogs at Bronco Stadium on October 13, 2012 in Boise, Idaho.  (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images

Today, the Boise State Broncos have full control of their own destiny. 

With a win over Nevada in their regular season finale, the Broncos will earn a share of the Mountain West Conference crown, as their 7-1 record will vault them into a tie atop the conference standings with Fresno State and San Diego State.

A loss would drop No. 20 Boise State to 9-3, and cause them to fall out of the BCS rankings entirely, but junior quarterback Joe Southwick isn't going to let that happen. 

Southwick, who entered the season with some big shoes to fill after star signal-caller Kellan Moore left Boise State as arguably the school's greatest player to date, has improved down the stretch and appears to be peaking at the right time for the Broncos. 

Heading into today's all-important matchup, Southwick told ESPN he's felt better and better as the season's progressed

"Just getting better. Watching a lot of film, analyzing the heck out of myself from each game," Southwick said of improving throughout the year. "I definitely see improvement from week to week...I feel like I'm getting better each week, and that's comforting. I know the offense is just going to keep getting better and better."

In his last two games, Southwick has thrown for five touchdowns and no interceptions against Hawaii and Colorado State, leading Boise State to consecutive victories after the Broncos fell to San Diego State on November 3. 

The Bronco defense is among the nation's stingiest (ranked No. 5 in the nation), and though Chris Petersen's offense hasn't been as explosive as it was under Moore, it still manages to put up over 40 points on a semi-regular basis. 

Against Nevada, which has allowed 124 points in its last three games combined, Southwick doesn't need to be the star, he simply needs to be adequate, throw for around 200 yards, and allow D.J. Harper to do some damage out of the backfield.

Nevada has an offensive catalyst of its own in running back Stefphon Jefferson, but if Harper and Southwick can continue to put points up on the board at the same rate they have in recent weeks, it'll be enough to get the Broncos a share of the conference title. 

For Southwick, leading Boise State to a share of the conference title and a season-ending spot in the BCS Top-25 would be an impressive accomplishment for a quarterback who entered the season with the daunting task of replacing a living legend under center. 

And if he plays the way he has for the last month, the Broncos will do just that.