November 11, 2010

No. 4 Broncos travel north to face rival Idaho

MOSCOW, Idaho (AP) Never one to shy away from making an honest, off-the-cuff comment, Idaho coach Robb Akey started by saying if anyone wanted to talk about last week's blowout loss, they'd better be prepared to start hitting the "bleep" button.

Having to face No. 4 Boise State might cause a few more of those.

With their national title chances mostly in the hands of others at this point, the Broncos (8-0, 4-0 WAC) head north to face the in-state rival Vandals (4-5, 1-3) for the 40th, and possible, final time on Friday night.

After a summer of barbs traded back and forth between the two schools, the battle for the Governor's Cup comes with an uncertain future. With the move of Boise State to the Mountain West Conference beginning next season, there is no longer a conference requirement to face its rival.

So, for at least the next two seasons, the Vandals and Broncos are on pause after Friday.

"I also would like to think that somehow or someway the rivalry should be something that is taken care of and would continue to be taken care of," Akey said. "But it's got to be done the right way also and when I say the right way I mean it's got to be played home and home or you don't play at all. ... The bottom line is all I know is this is the last time it's getting played and it's something that should be played more than that."

Based on recent history, the Vandals might not be too upset to see the rivalry take a break - or come to an end.

Boise State has won 11 straight dating back to Idaho's 36-35 overtime victory in 1998. Most of those have come in dominating fashion, with an average margin of victory of more than 30 points. Only once during the Broncos' decade of dominance have the Vandals lost by less than 15.

And this doesn't appear to be the year Idaho will finally break the skid, not after giving up nearly 1,000 yards last week to Nevada.

In their last three losses - against Louisiana Tech, Hawaii and Nevada - the Vandals defense has surrendered 2,021 yards and 156 points.

Their reward for giving up yards and points at a stunning rate: a Boise State offense that saw quarterback Kellen Moore throw for 507 yards in three quarters last week and posted 737 total yards in the Broncos' 42-7 win over Hawaii.

"We can't allow that to happen against a good team and now we're going to play an even better team and they're really going to air it out against us," Idaho defensive back Shiloh Keo said.

The Governor's Cup matchup begins a three-week stretch for Boise State of prime-time appearances on national television against respectable opponents that could help raise its profile, but maybe not their BCS standing. After the trip to Moscow, the Broncos return home to play Fresno State before their highly anticipated matchup at No. 21 Nevada on Nov. 26.

Clearly, if Boise State is to remain on the fringes of the national title discussion, they can't afford a lackluster effort against the Vandals - let alone a season-crushing loss. And just to make sure his players didn't drop any potential nuggets of motivation for the Vandals, Boise State coach Chris Petersen banned all player interviews this week.

"We just have got a short week and usually when we get into this game situation with Idaho, usually somebody says something they shouldn't say," Petersen said. "With all the distractions we've had going on here I thought it was a good time for our guys just to take care of our own business and worry about ourselves rather than a bunch of people asking them questions about a bunch of things they don't really need to be focused on right now."

Idaho's fans get one final chance to take a little venom out on its rival to the south. The Vandals were stung this summer when Boise State President Bob Kustra told the Idaho Statesman editorial board that the Vandal culture in Moscow was "nasty" and "inebriated," setting off a whirlwind of mudslinging up and down the potato state.

Boise State also took the stance that with its pending move to the Mountain West, it shouldn't be forced to dilute an already criticized schedule by playing the Vandals, or at least have to make the trip to Moscow every two years.

Some of the harsh comments have softened, with both schools saying they're working toward renewing the rivalry in the future. Still, the atmosphere in the quirky Kibbie Dome is expected to be less than friendly to the Broncos.

"The energy in this place when they come here is ridiculous," Idaho defensive end ]db]Aaron Lavarias[/db] said. "I'm going to miss it."




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