Boise State takes number 22 ranking to Utah
BOISE, Idaho - Boise State has a perfect record and talk around college football has Boise State possibly playing in a BCS Bowl Game, but before the Broncos can start thinking about a BCS bid, they'll have to deal with Utah.
The 22nd-ranked Broncos look to continue their recent dominance of the Mountain West Conference when they visit the Utes on Saturday.
Boise State (4-0) has outscored its first four opponents 145-58 while gaining a total of 1,595 yards, and the Broncos' 41-34 victory over Hawaii in their Western Athletic Conference opener moved them up three spots in the rankings. After Saturday, their toughest game will most likely come on Nov. 1, when they host Fresno State.
The Broncos are 10-0 against Mountain West teams since 1996, including a 17-10 victory at Wyoming on Sept. 16.
However, coach Chris Petersen knows that his team can't get too wrapped up in its ranking or in thinking about a possible at-large BCS bid.
``We haven't gotten so caught up in that BCS bowl situation,'' Petersen said. ``For us it's so early. But our players definitely know about Utah.''
Only one of Boise State's four opponents so far has had a winning record - Oregon State, whose two victories have come against Eastern Washington and Idaho.
``If you asked me going in, 'Who is the best team on the schedule?' it would have been Utah,'' Petersen said. ``Our whole focus isn't on a great ranking, but playing a great Utah team.''
Quarterback Jared Zabransky threw for 273 yards and three touchdowns on 17 of 29 passing against Hawaii, but threw his first interception of the season.
``I know everybody wants Z (Zabransky) to throw 40 passes a game, and I know Z wants to throw 40 passes,'' said Petersen. ``But that kid is a winner, and he's doing a great job, and he's doing whatever we ask him to do to win the game. If that means running the ball 50 times, he'll do that.''
Ian Johnson ran for 178 yards and two touchdowns in his third straight 100-yard performance for Boise State, which leads the WAC with 222.3 rushing yards per game. The Broncos gained 515 yards of total offense, but also allowed Hawaii to pick up 476.
``We knew we had to keep putting up points,'' Johnson said. ``Give our defense something to work with.''
Still, Boise State's defense leads the WAC with 14.5 points, 268.0 total yards and 67.2 rushing yards allowed per game.
The Utes (3-1) have won their last three games in dominating fashion since a season-opening, 31-15 loss at UCLA. They pounded San Diego State 38-7 last Saturday and have outscored their last three opponents 131-14.
However, two of those opponents have yet to win a game and one is a Division I-AA team. The Utes beat another WAC member, Utah State, 48-0 on Sept. 16.
``It will be a good barometer of where we are in week five,'' Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said of the matchup with Boise State.
Eric Weddle, last season's MWC Defensive Player of the Year, returned two interceptions for touchdowns and scored another on a two-yard run. Darryl Poston caught a touchdown pass and ran for a score for the Utes, who face No. 17 TCU next Thursday.
Utah has won its last three games against ranked opponents, but Whittingham insists his team cannot think about its upcoming matchup with the MWC rival Horned Frogs yet.
``This is it. Boise State is all we're thinking about,'' Whittingham said. ``It is a non-conference game, but make no mistake there is no thought in the back of our mind that we'll take a little deep breath because it is a non-conference game.''
Boise State leads the all-time series between the teams 3-2. They have not met since Oct. 2, 1999, when the Broncos defeated the Utes 26-20 in Boise.
``I've got all the respect in the world for Boise State,'' Whittingham said. ``They've got a very balanced offensive attack and they're playing very good defense.
``Their statistical numbers are very similar to ours. There is very little difference between the two football teams, so it should make for a good matchup.''
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