Boise State is hoping to once again seize a BCS berth from one of the power conferences. With impressive victories through its first four games, Boise State (5-0) but hardly looked like a team with BCS bowl aspirations in a lackluster 34-16 victory over UC Davis before their bye week.
The Broncos, who haven’t earned a BCS berth since defeating Oklahoma 43-42 in the Fiesta Bowl following the 2006 season but their high-powered offense never got in gear.
Boise State came into the contest averaging 214.3 rushing yards per game behind running backs Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin, but the team was limited to a season-low 101 yards on the ground.
Quarterback Kellen Moore did his best to make up for the sluggish running game by throwing for 285 yards and three touchdowns, two of them to receiver Austin Pettis, but the offense still had trouble sustaining drives. The Broncos had nine penalties, were stopped on six of 10 third-down attempts and produced 13 points on four first-half trips in the red zone.
Head coach Chris Petersen’s defense wasn’t much better for Boise State holding the Aggies to just 28 yards rushing, but recorded just one sack and didn’t force a turnover for the first time this season.
Boise State hopes the expected return of cornerback Kyle Wilson, the team’s defensive leader and top punt returner, can give the Broncos a boost. Wilson, a senior and starter the last 3 1/2 years, was out against UC Davis because of a strained shoulder and his presence was missed as the defense allowed season highs of 206 yards through the air and two passing touchdowns. With Wilson in the lineup the first four games, the Broncos yielded an average of 163.3 passing yards with two touchdowns and nine interceptions.
Wilson and the Broncos secondary will have to step up against coach Todd Graham Tulsa team led by quarterback G.J. Kinne, who ranks seventh in the country with a 161.7 passer rating and has thrown for 1,142 yards with 10 touchdowns to only two interceptions.
Kinne wasn’t fazed much by a constant rain in the Golden Hurricane’s 27-10 victory at Rice, completing 21 of 32 passes for 251 yards and throwing a 39-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Whitmore in the fourth quarter.
Tulsa (4-1), which played with Boise State in the Western Athletic Conference before moving to Conference USA in 2005, is 0-4 all-time against the Broncos. The teams haven’t met since 2004.
The Golden Hurricane, winners of 13 of 14 at home, are hoping to deliver a strong performance against a highly touted opponent to gain respect, something they failed to do in a 45-0 loss at Oklahoma.
PICK: Boise State University Broncos
The University of Oregon Ducks fast-paced offense over the past two seasons, there’s little reason to believe the Ducks will have a drop-off as Chip Kelly makes the transition from coordinator to head coach. Sixteenth-ranked Oregon begins the Kelly era on the imposing blue turf of Bronco Stadium, where No. 14 Boise State University Broncos will look to win its 50th regular-season game in a row. The Broncos stunned the Ducks in Eugene, Oregon a year ago.
The Ducks were expected to rebuild in the last season of Mike Bellotti’s but instead were one of the nation’s most dangerous offenses in Kelly’s second year as offensive coordinator. Oregon finished seventh in the country in scoring offense (41.9 points per game) behind the running tandem of LeGarrette Blount, which led the nation’s second-ranked rushing offense (280.1 yards per game). The Ducks found out late last season that they have a reliable quarterback in. Junior Jeremiah Masoli who threw for 830 yards and six touchdowns and ran for seven more. Oregon averaged 54.0 points in winning its final three games, including a 42-31 victory over No. 13 Oklahoma State in the Holiday Bowl to secure a No. 10 finish.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, meanwhile went on to throw for 3,486 yards and 25 touchdowns in leading the Broncos to a 12-0 regular season in 2008 and a No. 9 ranking heading into a Poinsettia Bowl meeting with 11th-ranked TCU. He failed to throw for a touchdown in that game, and TCU ran for 275 yards and limiting Boise State to 28, in a 17-16 win. The Broncos return 12 starters, six on each side of the ball and that’s enough for them to win their seventh WAC title in eight years.
Boise State was third in the nation in scoring defense (12.6 points per game) last season, and corner-back Kyle Wilson was the WAC’s defensive player of the year after leading the team with five interceptions last year. He also returned three punts for touchdowns. The Broncos hasn’t lost a regular-season game in Bronco Stadium since a 41-20 loss to Washington State on Sept. 8, 2001.
PICK: Boise State University Broncos