NO. 3 BOISE ST. 37 NO. 24 ORE­GON ST. 24

Bron­cos beat an­other qual­ity foe, but play­ing in their weak con­fer­ence could erode ti­tle chances.

Los Angeles Times - - Sports - CHRIS DUFRESNE ON COL­LEGE FOOT­BALL re­port­ing from boise, idaho chris.dufresne@latimes.com

The Bron­cos pick up an­other big win, but now they’re out of chances to make a state­ment.

It wasn’t a per­fect ef­fort, some­thing you’d en­ter in a foot­ballplay­ing con­test, but Boise State did what it had to do Satur­day night.

It won, against a ranked op­po­nent from a ma­jor con­fer­ence, for the sec­ond time in three weeks — on na­tional tele­vi­sion.

Boise State’s 37-24 vic­tory against No. 24 Ore­gon State on the Bronco Sta­dium blue turf was the book­end piece to La­bor Day’s 33-30 vic­tory against Vir­ginia Tech.

Now, though, there might be noth­ing left to prove.

“It’s like we were play­ing an NFL team,” Ore­gon State star de­fen­sive tackle Stephen Paea said of the Bron­cos.

All the eq­uity Boise State (3-0) has built up to now, how­ever, may get eaten away by play­ing the rest of its sched­ule.

The third-ranked Bron­cos are buck­ing his­tory in try­ing to be­come the first team from out­side the six-con­fer­ence power struc­ture to play in the Bowl Cham­pi­onship Se­ries ti­tle game.

Boise State is also up against a coaches’ poll stacked with vot­ers from power con­fer­ences, tele­vi­sion an­a­lysts who played for tra­di­tional pow­ers and the ridicu­lous no­tion that a team from the Western Ath­letic Con­fer­ence should be au­to­mat­i­cally dis­qual­i­fied.

How im­por­tant, in two months, will Satur­day’s vic­tory still be? Will it still res­onate?

Can Boise State move off its cur­rent No. 3 tree stump and get to the top, or has it met the im­pen­e­tra­ble bub­ble?

Bron­cos Coach Chris Petersen doesn’t dare look past the end of his nose, be­cause he knows:

“You can get tripped up,” he said. “and lose fo­cus. And all it takes is once.”

No one who can fo­cus their eyes can deny this is a spe­cial team, even if Boise State’s spe­cial teams weren’t on Satur­day.

The Bron­cos made the game closer than it should have been. They al­lowed Ore­gon State jit­ter­bug Jac­quizz Rodgers to wrig­gle for 54 yards on a first-quar­ter punt re­turn.

Then, late in the third, in po­si­tion to put the game away, Ti­tus Young fum­bled a punt, lead­ing to an Ore­gon State touch­down that trimmed the Bron­cos’ lead to 31-24. Boise State set­tled it with two late Kyle Brotz­man field goals.

Some truths, even in foot­ball’s par­ti­san prism, are self-ev­i­dent.

The win over Ore­gon State was Boise State’s 57th con­sec­u­tive reg­u­lar-sea­son win at home.

The Beavers, for the record, are a qual­ity op­po­nent — you could say dam good. They are the only team to have fin­ished third or bet­ter in the Pac-10 each of the last three years. Only Civil War losses to Ore­gon de­nied Ore­gon State Rose Bowl ap­pear­ances the last two sea­sons.

So it means some­thing that Boise quar­ter­back Kellen Moore com­pleted 19 of 27 passes for 288 yards and three touch­downs.

“I think we all know Kellen’s got a lot of God-given skills,” Petersen said.

It means some­thing that Doug Martin rushed for 138 yards and Young fin­ished with 136 yards re­ceiv­ing.

This was also a game against an op­po­nent from Ore­gon that didn’t end with a punch and postgame brawl.

Also true: it’s go­ing to be a long, gru­el­ing and ex­cit­ing sea­son for Boise State fans.

Ev­ery­one tail­gat­ing in the park­ing lot be­fore Satur­day’s gameknew that a loss by No. 1 Alabama at No. 10 Arkansas­would give Boise State a chance to crawl a heart­beat closer to the top.

Arkansas, though, squan­dered a 20-7 lead and lost to the de­fend­ing na­tional cham­pi­ons.

Ev­ery­one in the park­ing lot also knew that there are go­ing to be Satur­days like this as long as their beloved Bron­cos keep win­ning.

Boise State, in many ways, does not con­trol its fate: Its hopes are in­ex­tri­ca­bly tied to re­sults an­nounced in sta­di­ums na­tion­wide.

UCLA’s de­feat of Texas helped be­cause it likely knocked the Longhorns out of na­tional ti­tle con­tention.

The “Ne­vada is lead­ing BYU” score, later con­veyed by the pub­lic ad­dress an­nouncer, drew a rous­ing re­sponse. Ne­vada ended up win­ning, and Boise State needs Ne­vada to keep win­ning in hopes of set­ting up a col­li­sion-course meet­ing in Reno in Novem­ber. Ev­ery lit­tle bit counts:

Vir­ginia Tech’s win­ning at Bos­ton Col­lege, 19-0, proved the Hok­ies may yet re­cover from that loss to James Madi­son.

Ok­la­homa’s strug­gling to a 31-29 vic­tory at Cincin­nati meant the Sooners, if they keep win­ning, may have to ac­count for an open­ing close call against Utah State, a WAC mem­ber, and the close win at Cincin­nati, a team WAC mem­ber Fresno State han­dled eas­ily.

Re­ally, though, there’s not much Boise State can do now ex­cept win and wait.

Ore­gon State Coach Mike Ri­ley has lost to both Texas Chris­tian and Boise State this year.

“They’re sim­i­lar teams,” he said. “I’m not go­ing to be the one that sep­a­rates them.”

Boise State prob­a­bly needs to con­vinc­ingly win ev­ery game left on its sched­ule, but Petersen said he will not run up scores. “We will never go that di­rec­tion,” he said. “We will just play as hard as we can. I think all that stuff works it­self out at the end of the year.”

Boise’s next seven games are against New Mex­ico State, Toledo, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, Idaho and Fresno State.

But hey, didn’t Toledo beat Pur­due on Satur­day?

Like we said: ev­ery lit­tle bit helps.

BREAK­ING AWAY:

Chris But­ler

Boise State’s Ti­tus Young, who had five re­cep­tions for 136 yards, beats Ore­gon State’s Bran­don Hardin (17) to score on a 49-yard pass from Kellen Moore in the sec­ond quar­ter.

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