BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State coach Chris Petersen says redemption is far from his mind as the No. 5 Broncos prepare for Georgia.
But who could blame him if payback didn't play even a small role in his motivation for the rematch with the 19th ranked Bulldogs. Georgia thumped the Broncos 48-13 the last time the two teams met in 2005. At the time, Petersen was the offensive coordinator and Boise State was a small conference upstart, ranked for the first time in the preseason polls and looking for respect against a Southeastern Conference powerhouse.
Broncos fans may be yearning for some kind of revenge, but Petersen says the ugly and humiliating loss that unfolded at Athens six years ago has nothing to do with the team playing on the national stage in the Georgia Dome on Saturday.
"I've talked about it to our team, but it's not something ... they don't have anything to do with that," Petersen said Monday. "I had something to do with it. They know what happened. But you've got to go play better." The Broncos were clearly outclassed and overmatched six years ago.
Victimized early by six first-half turnovers and unable to match Georgia's speed on a humid afternoon, the Broncos fell behind early and never regrouped. Bulldogs quarterback D.J. Shockley threw five touchdown passes and ran for another, and then-Broncos head coach Dan Hawkins benched quarterback Jared Zabransky in the second half. The Bulldogs led 38-0 before Boise State got on the board.
For Petersen, who has compiled a 61-5 record since taking the helm in 2006, the defeat was one of the most painful since his arrival on campus 10 years ago.
"We didn't even have a chance, didn't even get out of the gate. It was over before it even started," Petersen said. "So it'd be nice not to recreate that scene for sure." Recent history suggests the Broncos stand a better chance this time around.
The Broncos are no strangers to high profile games, having won two Fiesta Bowls and last season's nationally televised opener over Virginia Tech.
The defensive line, which helped the Broncos boast one of the stingiest units a year ago, has four seniors returning. The offensive line is anchored by two-time all-Western Athletic Conference tackle Nate Potter and senior center Thomas Byrd. The offensive backfield features seniors Doug Martin, who rushed for 1,260 yards last year, and D.J. Harper, who returns from a season-ending knee injury.
The Broncos also have Kellen Moore back under center for the fourth straight year. Moore is one of the nation's most efficient passers and has engineered Boise State's transformation from a program looking for respect to one that has now earned it.
Boise State's No. 5 ranking in the preseason poll is the highest in school history and this year marks its first as a member of the Mountain West Conference.
"I think we're better in certain places," Petersen said, drawing a contrast between his current squad and the 2005 version. "We had some good players then. But at certain places now maybe we're maybe just as inexperienced as we were back then. But hopefully the guys handle it, go out and compete and play good football."