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November 29, 2008
Undefeated No. 9 Boise State routs Fresno, 61-10
By GREGG BELL,
AP Sports Writer
BOISE, Idaho (AP) Undefeated Boise State has a message for the BCS: Compute this.
The No. 9 Broncos put together a dazzling audition for college football's big-money bowls in a 61-10 blowout of Fresno State on Friday night.
Kyle Wilson returned a punt 90 yards, wide receiver Tanyon Bissell threw for another touchdown on a smooth reverse pass, and now all the Broncos can do is hope it's enough to impress the computers and pollsters who produce the Bowl Championship Series pairings.
"I think it's an obvious statement what we'd like to do," normally evasive coach Chris Petersen said with a wry smile after accepting the trophy for Boise State's sixth WAC championship that the Broncos (12-0) had clinched a week earlier.
Petersen knows the odds of his team becoming a second undefeated champion of a non-BCS conference to make the BCS is remote. Utah (12-0) is ranked three spots higher than the Broncos in the BCS. The series is required to only select one non-BCS team ranked in its top 12 - the higher-rated one.
"I'd probably say our record speaks for itself," Petersen said. "And people have to make a decision."
Most of the orange sea that was a thrilled, chilled record crowd spilled onto the funky blue home turf to celebrate a third undefeated regular season since 2004. The fans stayed on the field for almost an hour, beneath signs of "Obama: Bring Change Soon" and "Boycott the BCS" at the bottom of the second deck.
Ian Johnson ran for 128 yards and scored two touchdowns as scouts from three BCS bowls watched. The senior tied the WAC record of 57 rushing touchdowns set by Marshall Faulk at San Diego State from 1991-93.
The Broncos trailed for only the third time all season early and were up just 13-10 after halftime before Jeremy Avery ran for a 43-yard touchdown three minutes into the third quarter. Then came a stampede: three more touchdowns in a 3 1/2-minute span.
"Just goes to show you how stacked this team is," Johnson said, peering from beneath his new white "WAC Champions" cap.
The deluge left Fresno State coach Pat Hill grumpy, but awed.
"I've never been in a game where it got that out of control," said Hill, who has been coaching in college and the pros since 1977.
"I think they should (be in a BCS bowl). I think they are a heck of a football team. They are definitely deserving of a bid."
Representatives of the Rose, Orange and Fiesta Bowls perhaps were pondering whether to choose Boise State, ranked ninth in the BCS standings, over one-loss Southern California or two-loss Ohio State for a final at-large spot to be announced Dec. 7.
The bowl scouts were greeted by chants of "BCS" from Broncos fans two years removed from their team's fairy-tale upset of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl at the end of the 2006 season.
"The system is what the system is. It's taken care of us before," Johnson said. "We have no complaints about it.
"We just want to play in a game we deserve."
Tom Brandstater was 23-for-36 with 212 yards passing before re-injuring his left ankle late for Fresno State (7-5), which was outscored 61-3 after taking the lead on Damion Owens' 68-yard interception return. The Bulldogs cemented their ninth bowl berth in 10 years last week by beating San Jose State.
Good thing, because the Broncos trampled them.
After Avery's sprint up the middle put Boise State back comfortably ahead at 20-10 three minutes into the third quarter, Wilson took a long punt at his own 10, immediately sidestepped Fresno State's Desia Dunn and took off untouched.
It was Wilson's third punt return for a score this month, and the fourth-longest in Boise State history.
"I feel like I can take a bunch of them back," he said. "I feel like I ran out of my sleep last night."
Then Bissell took a handoff on a reverse out of the shotgun and threw on the run to Julian Hawkins, who was alone at the 10 and cruised in to make it 34-10.
After Ellis Powers intercepted a tipped pass from Brandstater deep in Bulldogs territory, freshman Kellen Moore threw for another touchdown. His 16-yard pass to Tommy Gallarda made it 41-10.
Johnson ended the third quarter by running 69 yards - pulling Owens the final 18 yards - to the 4. He scored on a 4-yard touchdown run on the first play of the final quarter and then on a 1-yard run.
Bush Hamden started at quarterback instead of Moore, who entered 13th in the nation in passing, because Petersen wanted to give the senior the start. Hamden's first pass was thrown way behind [sb]Jeremy Childs[/db]. Owens intercepted it and easily ran the other way for a touchdown 3 1/2 minutes into the game.
The crowd of 32,412 sat stunned as the jubilant Bulldogs defense formed a dog pile in the end zone.
But then Moore entered. And normalcy eventually returned. He was 17 of 23 for 213 yards and two touchdowns.