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November 20, 2009
Boise State at Utah State Preview
An unbeaten regular season has become almost an annual rite for Boise State, but the team's strong-armed quarterback could be nearing what would be more uncharted territory for the program.
Kellen Moore will try to bolster his Heisman Trophy candidacy and lead the sixth-ranked Broncos to an 11th straight victory when they play their final road game of 2009 against Utah State on Friday night.
Moore's prolific year continued as he led Boise State to a 63-25 drubbing of Idaho on Saturday. The sophomore threw for 299 yards and five touchdowns - four to wide receiver Austin Pettis.
Moore leads the nation with 32 touchdown passes while throwing just three interceptions and completing 67.7 percent of his passes. In the last five games, he has racked up 19 touchdowns and been picked off once, but the quiet quarterback said he's not concerned with any Heisman hype.
"I don't care," Moore said. "We've got enough other business to take care of."
That's because his prolific play and the nation's highest-scoring offense has Boise State (10-0, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) on the verge of its fourth undefeated regular season in six years. The Broncos also entered their bowl game without a loss in 2004, 2006 and last year.
While three more wins would help them add 2009 to that list, there is plenty of doubt about where Boise State's season will end.
The Broncos were left out of the Bowl Championship Series last season because Utah was unbeaten and ranked higher - and typically, only one team from a non-BCS conference can reach one of the top bowls. This season, that bid seems likely to go to No. 4 TCU, which beat Boise State in the Poinsettia Bowl last year.
While his team held steady at No. 6 in the BCS rankings this week, Boise State coach Chris Petersen couldn't contain his sarcasm.
"I think we'll probably drop about three or four notches," he said after the game.
The uphill battle won't stop the Broncos from trying, and their biggest concern Friday could be the temptation to look ahead. Boise State hosts Nevada, also unbeaten in WAC play, next week.
In the meantime, the Broncos will likely try to win over some of the voters with another lopsided victory after Pettis admitted that the Broncos "wanted to come out and make a big statement" against Idaho.
Pettis has a school-record 14 touchdown receptions this season, with Titus Young (13 total TDs) also among the offensive weapons that have helped Moore.
"It all starts up front with that offensive line," Petersen said. "They give him a chance to see some things. He does have some very good receivers. I think he would be the first one to tell you that."
Utah State (3-7, 2-4) doesn't figure to present a major challenge, having lost eight in a row to Boise State. In the teams' four meetings as WAC rivals since the start of 2005, the Broncos averaged 48.8 points, and Moore was 27 of 36 for 362 yards and two touchdowns in a 49-14 home victory last Nov. 8.
The Aggies are coming off a 24-9 win over San Jose State, the last-place team in the WAC. Utah State rolled up 381 rushing yards, led by sophomore Robert Turbin with a career-high 190 and two touchdowns.
Turbin is 15th in the country with 1,122 yards, but Utah State has had major problems on defense, ranking 106th nationally. Even after shutting down San Jose State, the Aggies are allowing more than 30 points per game.
Boise State will have to play without a pair of minor offensive contributors who are expected to miss the rest of the season. Tight end Richie Brockel injured his left foot against Idaho, while running back Matt Kaiserman broke his right leg after throwing for a touchdown.