November 13, 2009

Idaho-Boise St. Preview

AP) -- For Boise State to earn a spot in the Bowl Championship Series, coach Chris Petersen acknowledges his team not only needs to win, but win in convincing fashion.

After hanging on for a close victory, the sixth-ranked Broncos look to stay in the hunt for a BCS bowl berth with a more dominating performance Saturday when they host Idaho.

With an opportunity to show a national television audience why it should once again be a BCS buster, Boise State (9-0, 4-0 WAC) didn't look overly impressive in pulling out a 45-35 victory over Louisiana Tech last Friday night.

The Broncos offense had little trouble moving the ball, racking up 507 yards, but the defense, which entered the contest tied for 11th in the Football Bowl Subdivision in points allowed at 13.6 per game, let the Bulldogs to stay in the game.

Against a team which came in with a 3-5 record, Boise State was clinging to a 30-28 lead early in the fourth quarter before the defense buckled down and the offense came up with touchdowns on consecutive drives.

"We know we are going to have people's best shots," quarterback Kellen Moore said. "It's kind of fun playing in tight games I think. Throw in a little pressure and it just shows the resiliency of this team."

The Broncos moved up one spot in the BCS standings to sixth, but could have used a more lopsided win in their quest to prove they are more deserving than unbeaten and fourth-ranked TCU for a BCS bid. Boise State, which hasn't earned a BCS berth since defeating Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl three years ago, looked almost flawless in its previous two games - wins over Hawaii and San Jose State by a combined 99-16 score.

"That's how it always is when we play," Peterson said. "It's never good enough, but it's good enough for us. We are going to try to do better next week and just go from there."

Peterson's team may have to step up its play against Idaho (7-3, 4-2), which has as many wins as the Broncos' last three opponents combined (7-19).

However, Boise State has won 10 straight over the Vandals since a 36-35 overtime loss in 1998, and has scored an average of 64.3 points in the last three meetings at Bronco Stadium.

Idaho isn't the only team having trouble in Boise, though. The Broncos have reeled off 53 consecutive regular-season wins there since a 41-20 loss to Washington State in the 2001 home opener.

In Boise State's 45-10 road win over the Vandals last season, Jeremy Avery rushed for 156 yards and two touchdowns on 11 carries while Moore completed 23 of 31 passes for 210 yards.

Moore and Avery are the backbone of a Boise State offense that ranks second in the FBS in scoring (41.4 ppg), reaching the 45-point mark in each of its four conference games.

Moore, who threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns against Louisiana Tech, is first in the FBS in passer rating at 169.3, throwing 27 touchdowns to three interceptions.

Avery rushed for 146 yards on 25 attempts last week and put away the game with a 44-yard touchdown run with 4:52 remaining.

This high-powered offense looks for another strong performance against an Idaho team that has given up 135 points in its last three games, including a 70-45 loss at Nevada on Oct. 24.

The Vandals was unable to overcome a 24-0 halftime deficit last Saturday in a 31-21 loss to Fresno State, its second defeat in three games after winning five in a row.

Idaho might have to play a second straight game without starting quarterback Nate Enderle, who is listed as day-to-day with an injured rotator cuff. Enderle, who has thrown for 669 yards and six touchdowns in his last two games, completed 15 of 26 passes for 225 yards with a TD and two interceptions against the Broncos last season.

Backup quarterback Brian Reader got the start last Saturday, passing for 240 yards with two touchdowns.

Whoever starts for Idaho could have trouble finding open receivers against a Boise State defense that is tied for seventh in the FBS with 14 interceptions and ranks 12th against the pass, allowing an average of 169.4 yards.


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