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November 7, 2008
Utah St.-Boise St. Preview
(AP) -- Boise State is cruising toward another Western Athletic Conference title, but coach Chris Petersen knows his team hasn't won anything yet.
Looking to remain on course for their sixth championship in seven seasons, Peterson and the ninth-ranked Broncos aim to stay perfect and secure their eighth straight victory over Utah State on Saturday in WAC matchup.
WAC-leading Boise State (8-0, 4-0) had its run of five consecutive titles end in the 2007 regular-season finale, but appears poised to clinch the crown again this season as it has rolled to a 147-26 scoring advantage in winning all of its conference games.
The most recent victory in that stretch was an overwhelming 49-0 result at New Mexico State last Saturday night when the Broncos amassed 495 yards - their second-highest total this season. They improved to 21-1 in WAC play since Nov. 19, 2005.
Kellen Moore went 14-for-22 for 246 yards and three touchdowns for the Broncos, who jumped two spots in the AP poll as they remained among the few undefeated teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision.
Moore directs the nation's 24th-best and the second-ranked offense in the WAC, averaging 426.9 yards. That efficiency has been balanced by a stifling defense that tops the conference and is 12th in the FBS, holding opponents to 277.6 yards per game. The Broncos allowed a season-low 150 last weekend.
"When the defense gives you the momentum, when they stop the other team and give you a short field, you've got shorter drives, quick bursts to get you on the board," Moore said.
With every win, Boise State is bolstering its case to make a BCS bowl for the second time in three seasons. To make it, Broncos must finish in the top 12 and be the highest-ranked team from the five conferences without an automatic bid.
The Broncos are 10th in the BCS, but their positioning isn't enough to convince Petersen that his team can coast through the rest of its WAC schedule.
"We've got a long way to go," Peterson said. "We've just got to get a lot better ourselves before we worry about any of that stuff. And we're getting better but this will be a tough road the next four weeks."
Two of the final four games come at Bronco Stadium, where Boise State has won its last 49 regular-season games dating to Sept. 22, 2001. In that span, it is 30-0 versus conference foes.
Location, though, hasn't mattered versus Utah State (2-7, 2-3).
Following back-to-back defeats in 1996 and 1997, Boise State has outscored Utah State 338-150 in winning the last seven matchups and turned in a 52-0 road victory last Nov. 10 to improve to 10-4 in the all-time series.
Ian Johnson rushed 19 times for 110 yards and a touchdown versus the Aggies last season. He leads the Broncos with 525 yards and seven touchdowns this season, and will face a Utah State run defense that has yielded 182.3 yards per game and 432.0 yards total - second-worst in the WAC.
Utah State gave up 374 yards last Saturday, but halted a four-game slide with a 30-14 win over visiting Hawaii.
Quarterback Diondre Borel went 14-for-19 for 223 yards and two touchdowns, and also had 14 career for 87 yards for the Aggies, who quickly put the victory behind them and turned their focus Boise State.
"It is always the next game you have to be ready for," Utah Sate coach Brent Guy said. "The feeling is we won a breakthrough game but to make sure it is a breakthrough game we have to play well against Boise State, and that is a challenge."
But Utah State has dropped 22 straight against ranked teams, including each of its three matchups this season. It is just 1-47 all-time versus teams in the AP poll, losing all 37 road contests.