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October 31, 2008

No what-ifs for Boise State coach

By TIM KORTE,
AP Sports Writer

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) Boise State coach Chris Petersen isn't talking about the what-ifs.

As in, 'What if two or more teams from non-BCS leagues are ranked ahead of the Big East champion in the final BCS standings?' Or, 'What if more than one team from the non-BCS leagues is eligible for an at-large BCS selection?'

Go ahead, keep asking. Petersen will tell you he relies on shoulder pads and helmets, not a crystal ball.

"You're way ahead of me on that," he said this week. "I haven't really given it any type of thought. We just think about the way the system is set up. It has worked good for us in the past."

Petersen and other folks from the land of the blue field have a time-tested approach - keep the focus on No. 11 Boise State's next game. Without a win each week, without improvement after each kickoff, any BCS talk is speculation.

Yes, it's boring, but who can argue with the results?

Not only did Boise State burst onto the national scene with a BCS bid and a spectacular Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma two years ago, the No. 11 Broncos (7-0, 3-0 WAC) have won 49 of 51 conference games since the 2002 season.

So going into Saturday's contest at New Mexico State (3-4, 1-2), the Broncos are more interested in logging another WAC victory than jockeying for BCS position with the Mountain West, Mid-American, Conference USA or any other mid-major league.

"We don't talk about it just because there's nothing to talk about right now," Petersen said. "Our guys are fairly sharp guys. They know if they take care of business, one game at a time, at the end of the year we'll look up and see where we're at."

Besides, there's an outside chance the heavily favored Broncos could trip in Las Cruces.

New Mexico State quarterback Chase Holbrook is an NFL prospect who holds 31 of his school's 36 total offense and passing records. He has thrown for 10,547 yards and 76 touchdowns in three-plus seasons.

Two years ago in a 40-28 homefield loss to the Broncos, Holbrook had 526 yards passing. Last fall, he was sidelined by a first-quarter injury in Boise and the Aggies went on to lose 58-0.

It has been an up-and-down season for New Mexico State, which is trying to end a 48-year bowl drought in coach Hal Mumme's fourth season.

While a bowl bid remains possible with five games left, the Aggies need to get things right. Since nabbing a 48-45 win at Nevada three weeks ago, they've lost two straight, including last weekend's 20-14 setback at Idaho.

In that game, which snapped the Vandals' 17-game WAC losing streak, Mumme's high-powered Air Raid offense sputtered.

Holbrook set a school record by completing 78.7 percent of his passes (37-of-47) but also threw two interceptions. Running back Tonny Glynn lost a key fumble early in the second half.

The Aggies are averaging 26.6 points a game but have managed only two TDs in each of the past two games.

What's wrong?

"If we knew the answer to that, then we would fix it and be scoring," Holbrook said. "A lot of it just comes down to executing."

One possible explanation is a battered offensive unit. Including injuries from their 31-14 defeat to San Jose State two weeks ago, the Aggies have lost six starters - two tackles, a center, a fullback and two receivers.

"We've got some players but they're just young guys," said Mumme, who has battled depth issues during his time at NMSU. "They're learning how to play. They weren't nearly as effective, especially on the offensive line."

Still, there are sure to be a few tests for Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, who completed 26-of-40 for 244 yards and two TDs in last week's 33-16 win at San Jose.

The Aggies have the nation's leading tackler, safety Derrick Richardson, averaging 13.5 per game. He's a key player in a 3-3-5 scheme installed by new coordinator Joe Lee Dunn, who formerly handled the defenses at South Carolina, Memphis, Arkansas, Ole Miss and Mississippi State.

"Last time we were down there, we had quite a game with those guys," Petersen said. "They are super explosive on offense and unorthodox on defense. It will be a good challenge to go back on the road and try to play well."



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