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November 19, 2008
Boise St.-Nevada Preview
By CHRIS ALTRUDA
(AP) -- Before Boise State can think about a Bowl Championship Series berth, it needs to focus on claiming the Western Athletic Conference title outright - something the Broncos can do Saturday with a victory at Nevada.
Fans could be in for another high-scoring affair between the teams, who last year combined to play the highest-scoring game at the Football Bowl Subdivision level since official statistics started being kept in 1937.
Ninth-ranked Boise State (10-0, 6-0) is ninth in the BCS standings and appears on its way to a second BCS game in three years. After Saturday's 45-10 win over Idaho gave the Broncos no worse than a share of the title, however, coach Chris Petersen was already working to make sure his team's concern was its next opponent.
"I care about the Wolf Pack and the Broncos," Petersen said after Boise State claimed at least a share of the WAC crown for the sixth time in seven years.
Boise State is 13th in the FBS with 286.7 yards passing per game, and the Broncos also displayed a formidable ground attack last weekend. Jeremy Avery had a career-high 156 yards as Boise State rolled up 315 rushing yards, their most against an FBS opponent since getting 337 against Bowling Green on Sept. 21, 2005.
"When you get in, you've got to take advantage," said Avery, who had just 11 carries. "You've got to capitalize."
The Broncos' effort running the ball was all the more impressive considering leading rusher Ian Johnson[ was held to 14 yards on eight carries as the Vandals keyed on him.
Johnson, who has rushed for 436 yards and six touchdowns in three games against Nevada, is 44 rushing yards shy of becoming the fourth player in WAC history to reach 4,000, and 90 from passing Brock Forsey (4,045) for second on Boise State's all-time list.
Already the NCAA career leader with 54 rushing touchdowns, Johnson is two TDs shy of tying Rice's Jarrett Dillard for the overall touchdown mark of 57.
While Boise State put together a dominant performance running the ball last week, Nevada (6-4, 4-2) can be just as overpowering on the ground. The Wolf Pack average an FBS-best 325.0 rushing yards and feature a pair of 1,000-yard rushers in quarterback Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua.
Kaepernick rushed for 147 yards and two scores and threw for 192 yards and a touchdown as the Wolf Pack became bowl-eligible with a 41-17 victory over San Jose State on Saturday. Nevada coach Chris Ault, however, wasn't completely pleased with the lopsided win.
"From an offensive standpoint, I was a little disappointed Kaepernick didn't convert some passes," he said. "Defensively, they scored two touchdowns in four plays. That's ridiculous. We had highs and lows, but we can't do this against the Boises of the world."
Kaepernick has three consecutive 100-yard rushing games and has accounted for 897 yards and nine touchdowns in his last three contests.
Taua added 125 rushing yards and a touchdown versus the Spartans, and has topped the 100-yard mark in five straight games. The sophomore has a team-high 1,284 rushing yards and is averaging 7.3 per carry.
The Wolf Pack have scored at least 31 points in each of their last seven games, but have come up woefully short in their two contests against ranked opponents this season, losing to Texas Tech and Missouri by a combined 104-36. They've dropped six straight games to Top 25 opponents since a 38-35 win over then-No. 16 Fresno State on Nov. 26, 2005.
Boise State defeated Nevada 69-67 in four overtimes last Oct. 14 to set the FBS scoring record. Johnson had 205 rushing yards, while Kaepernick - making his first collegiate start - accounted for 420 total yards and five touchdowns. However, he suffered a game-ending sack by Tim Brady as he tried to force a fifth overtime with a two-point conversion try.
Nevada rolled up 639 total yards, while Boise State had 627.