Broncos Clinch Seventh WAC Title with 44-33 Win Over Nevada

GOBRONCOSDOTCOM
GOBRONCOSDOTCOM

GOBRONCOSDOTCOM

BOISE, Idaho (AP) -Though Nevada threatened, there's still no team in the WAC that can conquer Boise State.

Perhaps the Broncos will meet their match in the BCS - if they get in.

Kellen Moore tied his career high with five touchdown passes, three to fill-in fullback Dan Paul, and the No. 6 Broncos remained undefeated with a 44-33 victory over Nevada on Friday night.

With executives with the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange bowls watching - and hearing fans' chants of ``BCS! BCS!'' through the rain and cold - the Broncos (12-0, 7-0 WAC) withstood the Wolf Pack's rally from 24 points down in the first half.

Boise State, sixth in the latest BCS but far from a lock to earn a bid to the marquee bowls, led 34-26 entering the fourth quarter before Moore's fifth scoring pass, to brother Kirby, clinched its 24th consecutive regular-season win.

``We've taken care of what we can control - and we're excited for whatever happens,'' Kellen Moore said. ``At the same time, we can't control (the BCS).''

Vai Taua had 160 yards rushing on 24 carries for Nevada (8-4, 7-1), which had averaged 52 points per game while winning eight straight. The Wolf Pack lost for the 10th consecutive time to Boise State.

Doug Martin ran for 128 yards on 16 carries for the Broncos, who locked up at least a share of their seventh WAC championship in eight seasons. They have one more home date against lowly New Mexico State before BCS bids are announced next weekend.

``Let's hope the system should work like it should,'' Broncos coach Chris Petersen said on the field immediately after the game.

Maybe the BCS should compute this: Boise State is 72-4 this decade.

``In South Florida, there's a lot of buzz over TCU and Boise,'' Orange Bowl executive director Eric Poms said at halftime during his first-ever trip to Boise, standing just outside the BSU athletic director's suite.

No. 4 TCU, which Poms will see play in person on Saturday, is primed for automatic inclusion in the big-bucks series as the highest ranked outsider.

``I'm very impressed,'' Poms said of the enthusiasm for the Broncos in Boise, waving his can of Coke toward the home team's funky blue turf.

Poms added ``we're wide open'' on which team to select to play in the Orange Bowl opposite the winner of the Atlantic Coast Conference championship game next weekend between Clemson and Georgia Tech.

Oklahoma State, Iowa and Penn State are among the BCS team poised to keep Boise State undefeated yet out of the BCS for the second consecutive postseason.

``We've got one more game and if we win, we've done everything we can possibly do. And we've done it for two years in a row,'' Petersen said. ``We have confidence in the system and faith in the system that it should take care of the teams that should be in there.''

For most of the second half, Boise State's third home loss in 64 games, its first defeat in 25 home games since the 2005 MPC Computer Bowl in Boise, and first home conference loss since 1998 - when the Broncos were in the small-time Big West - was a distinct possibility.

Resilient Nevada absorbed a 95-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff by Boise State's Titus Young and being in a 27-3 hole after 20 minutes. The Wolf Pack closed within 27-19 in third quarter on a 37-yard field goal by Ricky Drake.

The Broncos answered with a ground march to the Wolf Pack 21. That running was partly why tight end Tommy Gallarda was wide open in the middle of the field for Moore's fourth touchdown pass, from 21 yards. Moore's 37th TD throw of the season, against just three interceptions, extended his single-season school record.

But on the next play from scrimmage, Taua, the leading runner on the NCAA's first offense to have three 1,000-yard rushers in the same season, sprinted untouched down the right hashmark for a 71-yard touchdown. The Wolf Pack was back within 34-26 late in the third quarter.

When replay officials overturned an official's call and ruled Kirby Moore fumbled at the end of a catch, the entire Nevada roster was off the bench and jumping around on the field celebrating the game's first turnover. The Wolf Pack had the ball near midfield with the chance to tie.

But they went three-and-out to end the third quarter.

Kyle Brotzman kicked a 27-yard field goal to put the Broncos up 37-26 with 10:55 left, before the clinching Moore-to-Moore connection.

Kellen Moore had a skittish night by his standards, especially considering Nevada entered ranked 119th out of 120 bowl subdivision teams in pass defense. The nation's leader in passing efficiency consistently overthrow open receivers down the middle and finished 17 for 33 for 262 yards - his second consecutive game near 50 percent in completions.