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December 2, 2010
Utah St.-Boise St. Preview
Chris Petersen is trying to keep a positive vibe around Boise State, but that can't be easy after the school's BCS title aspirations evaporated in less than one quarter last weekend.(AP) -- Coach
The ninth-ranked Broncos try to regroup from a painful defeat and win at least a share of a third straight Western Athletic Conference title when they host Utah State in Saturday's regular-season finale.
Boise State (10-1, 6-1) had been the darling of BCS busters and entered last Friday's game at then-No. 19 Nevada in need of two more wins to have a shot at playing for the national championship. That opportunity vanished with two missed field goals in a 34-31 overtime loss, the Broncos' first defeat since falling to TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl.
"I'm at a loss for words," said Kellen Moore, who suffered only his second loss in 38 games as Boise State's quarterback. "Hopefully we'll learn something from this."
The first thing Boise State learned is that it went from likely playing in a BCS game to probably being relegated to the Humanitarian Bowl or the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. Not exactly what the Broncos were dreaming of.
The biggest disappointment for Boise State is that it seemed on the verge of beating the Wolf Pack for an 11th straight time and extending its overall winning streak to 25 games.
The Broncos led by 17 at the half and were up 24-14 after three quarters. Nevada tied the score at 31 with 13 seconds left, but Boise State quickly moved the ball downfield to set up the normally efficient Kyle Brotzman for a 26-yard field goal.
Brotzman, the top scorer in school history and career scoring leader among all active players, missed that attempt and then missed another from 29 yards in overtime. The senior is being ridiculed on social networking sites, but Petersen is trying to deflect criticism away from his kicker.
"There were a lot of other chances to win the game. That was just one of them," Petersen said.
Although Boise State dropped seven places to 11th in the BCS standings and fell six spots in the rankings from No. 3, Petersen isn't letting go of hope.
"We still have another game," Petersen said. "We said all along, at the end of the season we will see where we are and go from there."
A 10th consecutive win over the Aggies, to whom they haven't lost since 1997, would still give the Broncos a share of a third consecutive conference title.
Boise State is averaging 53.7 points in the last seven meetings with Utah State, including a 52-21 victory last season behind Doug Martin's 121 rushing yards and four touchdowns.
The Broncos' offense stalled after halftime against Nevada, tallying just seven second-half points to finish with a season low in scoring. Moore passed for 348 yards and two touchdowns and Martin rushed for a season-best 152 yards and two scores for Boise State, which had averaged 50.2 points in its first six conference games.
The defense also didn't play up to its lofty standards. Coming into the game second in the FBS in total defense at 229.2 yards per game, the Broncos surrendered a season-worst 528.
Boise State seemingly should have better luck shutting down a Utah State team that averages 22.7 points to rank seventh in the WAC.
The Aggies (4-7, 2-4) haven't played since gaining 242 yards in a 28-6 loss to Idaho on Nov. 20, their fourth defeat in six games. Diondre Borel completed just 14 of 35 passes for 103 yards and threw two interceptions, while Derrvin Speight ran for 80 yards after rushing for 239 and four TDs in his previous two games.
Utah State could finish with its most victories since going 5-6 in 2000, but beating Boise State seems like a tall order, considering the program has lost 27 straight against ranked opponents since defeating No. 25 Fresno State 20-19 in 1991.
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