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December 4, 2009
Boise State looks to another perfect season
BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State is on the verge of another perfect season, and with a little help another invitation to a BCS bowl in January.
But the sixth-ranked Broncos have a little unfinished business to wrap up Saturday before making any grand postseason plans.
The Broncos (12-0) and their high-scoring offense close out the regular season against struggling New Mexico State (3-9), a team that has lost six straight and has never beaten the team that has dominated the Western Athletic Conference for a decade.
"There is tremendous importance on this game for everything we've been through, how hard these guys have worked," said coach Chris Petersen, who has compiled a 47-4 record in his four years in Boise. "We need to go out and play very well. We've been through so much. We're close, but we're not there."
A victory on Senior Day would also give Boise State an outright claim to the conference crown, its second in as many years and seventh in the last eight.
The Broncos finished 12-0 last season, but were snubbed for an at-large BCS bid, settling instead to play TCU in the lower-profile Poinsettia Bowl. TCU beat the Broncos in that game, and the fourth-ranked Horned Frogs stand in Boise State's way for the first at-large bid in this year's BCS sweepstakes.
But a Texas victory over Nebraska in the Big 12 title game could clear the path for Boise State's second BCS game. The Broncos played in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, a memorable, overtime upset over Oklahoma.
Petersen was asked that with so much at stake was he concerned about his team overlooking the Aggies.
"This next game is the most important game they're going to play in their lives," he said. "I think you see every single week teams get knocked off when they don't think they should. It's no different this week.
"We've felt really good the last couple of weeks. But you never know how it's going to go. You've got to do it week after week and that's easier said than done."
Still, the Broncos have excelled in making things look easy over the last four games. Led by quarterback Kellen Moore, the nation's co-leader with 38 touchdowns, the Broncos have rolled up an average of 51 points per game in dispatching Louisiana Tech, Idaho, Utah State and Nevada.
Moore, the nation's most efficient passer, will be without his favorite red zone target as Austin Pettis suffered a minor lower leg fracture in the victory over Nevada. But one of Moore's strength is spreading the ball around, and that could mean more work for the speedy Titus Young and Moore's younger brother, Kirby.
First-year coach DeWayne Walker knows the Aggies face a daunting challenge in his first trip to Boise and the famed blue turf. But he's also convinced the Broncos have earned the right to play in one of college football's marquee postseason games.
"I think they are already deserving of a BCS bowl," said Walker, whose team is winless in nine games with Boise State. "I think it's a good experience for our football team, especially with me being the new head coach here and with some of the things that we've changed already. I think it's going to be good to go into that environment and really experience what big-time football is in our conference."
The Aggies are last in the NCAA in scoring, averaging 11.8 points and 232 yards per game. They are an offense in transition, switching under Walker from the wide-open, pass-happy "Air Raid" to an attack focused on a conventional running game.
Ranked 10th in the nation in passing last season, New Mexico State is near the bottom of the pack this year with 91 yards per game. They have scored 46 points in the last six games and have been shut out in the last two games against the Broncos.
"Sometimes it takes a while to get your scheme implemented and everybody buying in and getting on the same page," Petersen said. "They are extremely productive at times. So we need to show up and play our best this weekend."