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Ian Johnson - Heisman Candidate
BOISE, Idaho (AP) - Boise State's chance at a BCS berth won't likely increase with a victory over Fresno State on Wednesday, but another loss to the Bulldogs would quickly squash that goal.
The 14th-ranked Broncos look to avenge last season's defeat to Fresno State when they host the Bulldogs in a WAC matchup.
It took a fourth-quarter outburst by Ian Johnson to accomplish that in the Broncos' 42-26 win at Idaho on Oct. 21. Boise State led by just two points with 7:05 to go, but Johnson rushed for two TDs in the final five minutes to seal the win.
The sophomore running back has run for four touchdowns in each of his last two games and totaled 385 yards in that span. He leads the country with 18 touchdowns and is fifth with 147.6 yards rushing per game.
``If a guy tries to arm tackle him, he's going to break that,'' Broncos coach Chris Petersen said. ``If we give Ian a chance, he's always going to get positive yards.''
Johnson's standout performances have helped Boise State remain in the BCS hunt. The Broncos moved up to 14th in the latest standings Sunday, but need to finish 12th or better to earn an automatic berth to a BCS bowl.
Petersen made it clear that his squad's focus is on earning victories, however, not on the BCS standings.
``We've talked about it in the fact that it means nothing to us,'' he said. ``We know that teams can beat us if we don't play our best.''
So far that hasn't happened as the Broncos remain one of six unbeaten teams in Division I-A.
The Broncos, though, had their 31-game WAC winning streak end last season with a 27-7 loss at Fresno State (1-6, 1-2). They now get to face the Bulldogs at home, where they've outscored them 100-37 in winning the last two matchups
Boise State has scored 40 or more points in every home game this season, averaging 459.5 yards per game there.
The Broncos are third in the nation in scoring with 39.8 points per game and sixth in rushing offense with 225.6 yards.
They've been stellar on the other side of the ball as well, leading the WAC in scoring defense (16.1 points), total defense (310.6 yards), rushing defense (76.8 yards) and pass efficiency defense (115.4 rating).
Boise State should have a good chance at continuing that success against a Bulldogs squad that has lost six straight and is coming off its worst offensive showing of the season. Fresno State was held to a season-low 211 yards, including 77 on the ground, in a 38-6 loss at then-No. 14 LSU on Oct. 21.
Dwayne Wright, third in the conference with 103.0 yards rushing per game, has totaled just 58 in Fresno State's last two defeats. The Bulldogs' running back scored seven touchdowns in the first four games, but has been held out of the end zone in the last three.
``This is not the type of season we envisioned with this team, but I think we're going to grow from this,'' Bulldogs coach Pat Hill said.
These teams have split eight all-time matchups, but Boise State has won four of the last five meetings.