GAME DAY! #17 Boise State at #14 Hawai'i, Kickoff at 7:00 pm Live on ESPN2
Before Hawaii can worry about an undefeated season or a possible BCS bowl berth, it must figure out a way to beat Boise State.
With the Western Athletic Conference title on the line, the 14th-ranked Warriors look to remain perfect as they try to avoid a seventh straight loss to the No. 17 Broncos in the much-anticipated meeting between the schools Friday night in Honolulu.
Two teams from the WAC haven't been ranked this high coming into a league game since 1994, when No. 11 Colorado State faced No. 15 Utah. Neither of those schools is still in the conference and unlike that contest, the implications Friday go far beyond a league title.
Hawaii (10-0, 7-0) joins Kansas as the only undefeated teams in the Football Bowl Subdivision and is No. 15 in the BCS standings. An impressive victory over Boise State (10-1, 7-0) could possibly vault the Warriors into the top 12 of those standings, earning them an automatic, at-large bid since the conference does not have a BCS tie-in.
The Warriors, who have never won the WAC outright, still have one more game remaining after Friday, however, a home date with Washington on Dec. 1. Hawaii shared the conference title in 1992 and 1999.
Defeating the Broncos, though, won't be easy. Boise State is looking for its sixth straight WAC title and is 6-0 versus Hawaii since entering the league in 2001. With a win, the Broncos, - looking for their 10th straight victory since losing 24-10 at Washington on Sept. 8 - would also keep alive their distant shot at a second straight BCS berth.
"I think we've got two really good teams here," said Boise State coach Chris Petersen, whose team is No. 19 in the BCS standings. "It's hard for me to say what one of us deserves. I just got to believe it's going to work out for both teams whatever happens."
Hawaii, which looks for its 12 consecutive win, has not defeated Boise State since a 34-19 home victory on Sept. 18, 1999.
The Warriors chances look better with quarterback Colt Brennan expected to start after being in for just two plays in their 28-26 win at Nevada last Friday. Brennan was still not healthy after being knocked out in a 37-30 victory over Fresno State on Nov. 10.
In Brennan's place, Tyler Graunke threw for 358 yards with two touchdowns, and Dan Kelly kicked a 45-yard field goal with 11.7 seconds left for the win.
"Finally everybody can see how great of a team this really is," Brennan said. "I know people have said all year, 'Oh, they've got a great quarterback, that is why they win, but they don't really have a great team.' People saw how great of a complete team we are."
Brennan, who has completed 69.1 percent of his passes for 3,237 yards with 28 touchdowns, needs one TD pass for 122 in his career to become the all-time FBS leader.
Though he's never defeated Boise State, Brennan has played well in two starts versus the Broncos, going 54-for-87 for 814 yards with nine touchdowns and three interceptions. He threw five TDs in a 41-34 loss at Boise on Sept. 23, 2006.
Friday's contest is a matchup between two of the nation's top offensive teams.
Hawaii is No. 1 in the country with 48.0 points per game and third at 523.9 yards per contest. Boise State, meanwhile, is third with 44.2 points and 10th at 488.7 yards.
The Broncos topped 50 points for the second straight week in a 58-14 home win over Idaho last Saturday.
Taylor Tharp was 22-for-31 for 282 yards and threw for four TDs in just over three quarters as the Broncos passed for a season-high 405 yards. Ian Johnson rushed 21 times for 108 yards and two touchdowns against the Vandals.
Tharp has thrown six touchdowns and no interceptions in his last two contests, while Johnson is looking for his third straight 100-yard rushing game. He needs 56 yards to reach 1,000 for the second consecutive season.
"We're definitely in a good situation in our season," said Johnson, who rushed for 178 yards and two TDs on 29 carries versus Hawaii last season. "When you go out there and execute the way we have ... then you can start having some fun."
Boise State is looking for its 18th straight conference victory and fourth straight at Hawaii.
"This game is really huge," Johnson said. "We've done everything to get to this point. This is the pinnacle of our season right now."
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