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Johnson, Broncos ready to fight to finish (ESPN.com article)
SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) - All Boise State can do is keep winning, and hope it's enough to creep up the BCS standings.
The 14th-ranked Broncos face what may be their toughest remaining test to finish with a perfect regular season record, and a shot at a lucrative bowl game, when they visit San Jose State on Saturday in a WAC matchup.
If the Broncos run the table and win their final three games against the Spartans (6-2, 3-1), Utah State and Nevada, they likely will finish in the top 12 of the BCS and automatically claim a spot.
Boise State also could qualify by being ranked in the top 16 and having a better BCS average than the conference champion from one of the six leagues that get automatic berths. The Broncos currently have a better BCS average than every ACC team.
``It's tough because that's one of our goals, but we know what we need to focus on and that's one game at a time,'' said quarterback Jared Zabransky, who threw for three touchdowns in last Wednesday's 45-21 win over Fresno State. ``We can't spring forward to December right now. We've got to play San Jose State and once San Jose State is done you move on from there.''
Zabransky's team won't take this game lightly, facing a San Jose State squad which has won seven consecutive home games.
``Players like to play against what's perceived to be the 'big dog,''' Spartans coach Dick Tomey said. ``Everybody likes to test themselves against somebody that you really respect, somebody that is acknowledged to be, over the past four or five years, the best team in your conference. Everybody likes that challenge.
``We know it's going to take a great effort on our part, and we are just crazy enough to think that we can come up with one.''
While the Broncos are allowing a WAC-low 16.7 points per game, the Spartans are next at 19.2 and have the top pass defense in the conference, giving up 185.9 yards per contest.
That leaves Boise State even more likely to rely on Ian Johnson, who is third nationally with 1,317 rushing yards and leads the country with 20 rushing touchdowns. He's run for 511 yards and 10 TDs over the last three games.
``We know these are statement games,'' Johnson said. ``We don't prepare any different, but we have those little things in the back of our minds that say 'Hey, we've got to make a statement. This is a big time thing.'''
The Spartans have a workhorse running back of their own in Yonus Davis, who has three consecutive 100-yard games and is second in the WAC with 861 yards rushing.
Boise State, though, is holding opponents to a league-low 79.2 rushing yards per game. San Jose State is giving up 152.2 per contest.
The Spartans are in third place in the WAC, one game behind Hawaii with two conference games in hand. San Jose State has won back-to-back games, including a 31-21 victory Saturday at New Mexico State that snapped a 15-game road losing streak.
Boise State has won all six games between the teams, including a 38-21 victory last year. The Broncos needed double overtime to win their last game at San Jose State, 56-49 in 2004.
``We had a chance in the fourth quarter (last year at Boise) if we could have just made a few plays, but it wasn't that close a game,'' Tomey said. ``This year, I think we are a different team.''