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November 16, 2010

Fresno St.-Boise St. Preview

AP) -- Though not in ideal position to earn a spot in the BCS, Boise State now appears to be in control of whether or not it will get one.

Up to No. 3 in the AP poll and much closer to that spot in the BCS standings, the Broncos try to make Fresno State their latest blowout victim Friday night - the same day which looms even larger next week.

(Boise State (9-0, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) might not be able to pass idle TCU for third on the BCS list even with a lopsided win, but it could make up more ground on the Horned Frogs after doing so last weekend and replacing them at No. 3 in the rankings.

A day after the Broncos rolled to a 52-14 victory at Idaho, TCU trailed San Diego State well into the second quarter and had to hang for a 40-35 win Saturday.

"I always like the Friday games because you get to catch everybody else playing on Saturday," defensive back ]db]Brandyn Thompson[/db] said after Boise State's nation-best 23rd straight victory.

The Broncos' easy win and the Horned Frogs' narrow victory, along with Utah's loss to Notre Dame making TCU's win over the Utes seem less impressive, let Boise State inch significantly closer to the No. 3 spot. Finishing in that position would send the Broncos or TCU to a BCS bowl - the other could be left out entirely - and possibly the national championship game if No. 1 Oregon or No. 2 Auburn loses.

Both of those teams are off this week but have tough matchups next Friday, with the Ducks facing No. 23 Arizona and the Tigers meeting 10th-ranked Alabama. The last game that day has Boise State in what appears to be its toughest remaining test, visiting No. 19 Nevada.

"We're well aware we've got big opponents coming up, WAC championship implications, big-time teams," quarterback Kellen Moore said. "We're excited about this, week after week ... and ready to get after this."

Moore remains the nation's highest-rated passer, though his total dropped slightly to 191.2 after he threw for 216 yards - his fewest since Oct. 2 - in three quarters last Friday. However, he didn't have an interception for the first time in three games and had three touchdown passes for the fifth time in seven contests.

"Kellen's being doing a great job with the deep ball and turning the ball over and giving those guys a chance," coach Chris Petersen said.

Moore has 9,610 career passing yards and needs 210 to pass Ryan Dinwiddie as the school's all-time leader.

The redshirt junior is facing a Fresno State defense holding opponents to 193.9 passing yards per game - behind only Boise State (165.9) in the WAC - and that's only one reason the Broncos must be wary of an upset.

The Bulldogs (6-3, 4-2) nearly pulled one off last Saturday against Nevada, giving up the go-ahead touchdown with 4:51 remaining to lose 35-34 in a game that featured seven lead changes.

"We need to bury it and get ready for Boise State," coach Pat Hill said. "We have a short week ... and will be in for a tough challenge against one of the best teams in the country."

It was Fresno State's 12th consecutive loss to a ranked team since beating then-No. 18 Virginia in the 2004 MPC Computers Bowl in Boise.

The Bulldogs also beat Georgia Tech on the Broncos' blue turf in the 2007 Humanitarian Bowl, but they have lost all four road games against Boise State - by an average of 34.5 points - since winning their first visit in 1984.

Fresno State did hand the Broncos one of their two losses in their last 71 conference games, winning 27-7 in 2005, but that's the Bulldogs' only victory in the past nine meetings.

The Bulldogs are likely to rely on the ground game led by Robbie Rouse, who has rushed for 503 yards over the last two weeks. Boise State, though, is giving up an FBS-low 2.2 yards per carry and 74.9 per game - second-best nationally.



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