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September 17, 2010

Boise State returns to work against Wyoming

AP Sports Writer

(AP) -- The Boise State Broncos have been cooling their cleats for a while, waiting for another chance to prove they're worthy of the national title talk.

The Broncos' big win over Virginia Tech in the season opener was somewhat smudged by the Hokies' stunning loss to lower division James Madison last week.

Although the idle Broncos (1-0) held onto their No. 3 ranking, they lost seven of their eight first-place votes from the week before.

Not that they're really dwelling on that. The team refuses to get caught up in the national debate over whether they are valid championship contenders.

All the Broncos can control is what happens on the field, starting again Saturday night at Wyoming (1-1).

They know a win isn't enough in the eyes of so many; they must win soundly. They can't just look good; they have to look great.

"We're just trying to win - if that means by one point, that's one point. We're just trying to do our best," said Boise State coach Chris Petersen, whose team has won 15 straight. "It'll never be to impress anybody else other than our staff, the players and our teammates."

In the court of public opinion, Virginia Tech's 21-16 loss to James Madison tarnished the Broncos' 33-30 win over the Hokies in Landover, Md., a week earlier.

Petersen disagrees.

"Virginia Tech is a heck of a football team, and a heck of a football program," he said. "For us to go across the country in the first game and win a hard-fought game in the fourth quarter was really, really important to us.

"Whatever happens to any teams after that, in our opinions, in our mind - I know in others it does - really has no significance to us."

It did afford Petersen a good teaching lesson, reminding his players how fickle football can be. That's why Boise State's focus is squarely on Wyoming and not toward next weekend's showdown with No. 25 Oregon State.

"It can happen to anyone. I don't care how good you are, what your ranking is, what league you come from," Petersen said. "If you're not ready to play, you're going to get beat."

The Broncos will receive a taste of Mountain West Conference play this week when they face a Wyoming team that lost last week to sixth-ranked Texas, 34-7, in Austin.

This may be the start of a burgeoning rivalry once Boise State joins the league after this season.

"That's one thing that's great about the new conference - proximity can breed some of those natural rivalries," Petersen said. "Do you want another rival? Not really. But they probably will be."

The Cowboys have had an emotional week with the funeral of freshman linebacker Ruben Narcisse, who was killed in a car accident in Colorado on Sept. 6.

Team captain and quarterback Austyn Carta-Samuels spoke on behalf of his teammates at the funeral, the Laramie Boomerang reported.

"Ruben had a special light about him," Carta-Samuels said.

The Cowboys will honor their teammate on Saturday with linebacker Brian Hendricks wearing Narcisse's No. 12 jersey. The team also will wear his initials on their helmets and distribute T-shirts with "Ruben Narcisse, Always a Cowboy" printed on it.

"I can see the pain in them," Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. "They're also doing everything they can to move forward - certainly not move on and forget it, but move forward.

"I though they did a tremendous job of that, preparing last week and going down to Texas under a week of very difficult (circumstances) and performing and playing as hard as they did. I think it will continue on this week."

Petersen has no doubt of that.

"They've had a hard time the last couple of weeks, losing a team member. We all know the effect that can have. That is hard," Petersen said. "I thought Wyoming held their own (against Texas), they battled them hard. Texas made a few more plays to kind of kick the game open. But I thought Wyoming did a very good job."

An intangible in this game could be the lung-searing altitude at War Memorial Stadium. As Christensen is fond of pointing out, it's at "7,200 feet where the oxygen is a lot thinner."

"We've got a huge mountain inside," Petersen cracked when asked about training for the altitude. "You can't do anything different. ... If the team's in good shape, I think that works."

Petersen bristles at the notion his team needs to make an impression with an impressive win over Wyoming. In his opinion, respect will come if the Broncos keep taking care of business on the field.

"We just need to play more football and people will know what they have," Petersen said. "There's a lot of teams that are out there that aren't really being talked about right now. Four or five games, people are going to say, 'Look at these guys, they're for real, they came out of nowhere.' And there's going to be some teams that a lot of people are talking about that they're not talking about.

"It'll change dramatically in a few weeks."

---

AP National Writer Nancy Armour and Associated Press Writers John Miller and Bob Moen contributed.


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