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October 1, 2010

On paper, it looks soft for Boise State

LAS CRUCES, N.M. (AP) Now comes the easy part for Boise State, right?

After beating Virginia Tech, Wyoming and Oregon State, the No. 3 Broncos begin their farewell tour through the Western Athletic Conference on Saturday night, visiting a team they've dominated in recent years - New Mexico State.

If Boise State (3-0) is due for a letdown, the Broncos came to the right place. They'll be the highest-ranked opponent ever at Aggie Memorial Stadium, where they're 5-0 since the series started in 1996. Boise State is 10-0 all-time against New Mexico State (0-3).

But are the Broncos eager for a break from the early-season media circus? Would it be a good time to throttle back?

Coach Chris Petersen won't take that approach, even if his team is favored by 43 points.

"I think we'll get tremendous energy from the New Mexico State players. I know that," Petersen said. "I know they'll play hard. We watched our tape from last year and saw how they played. I was not impressed with ourselves. I was impressed with how hard they played against us."

He was looking at a game the Broncos won 42-7. Since 2005, Boise State also has beaten the Aggies 56-6, 40-25, 58-0 and 49-0.

On paper, everything points to another romp. The Broncos own a 17-game winning streak and have won 28 straight regular season contests. For inspiration, the Aggies can look to a 1999 game where they stunned No. 22 Arizona State 35-7 in Tempe, Ariz.

Then again, NMSU has been outscored 125-47 in losses this year to San Diego State, UTEP and Kansas.

"We just have to be competitive," New Mexico State coach DeWayne Walker said. "We're going to find out what players want to play and the attitude of this football team."

The teams meet as WAC opponents for the final time before Boise State joins the Mountain West next fall. The Broncos have won the WAC seven times and placed second twice since joining in 2001.

Boise State linebacker Winston Venable will miss the first half after being suspended by WAC Commissioner Karl Benson for a flagrant foul last weekend against Oregon State's James Rodgers. A full-game suspension was reduced on appeal.

But that alone won't slow a talented lineup. Broncos receiver and return specialist Titus Young, for example, leads the nation averaging 208 all-purpose yards per game. Receiver Austin Pettis has four touchdown catches, a blocked punt and last week threw a scoring pass.

It's enough to make the Aggies rethink their approach.

Walker made a personal sacrifice, relinquishing the responsibility of calling defensive plays after his team allowed 501 yards in a 42-16 loss at Kansas. He loves handling defense but said the move will help him focus on the team's overall picture.

"I just think it's time for me to be the head coach," Walker explained.

Linebackers coach Dale Lindsey takes over as defensive coordinator, and he'll be tested right away.

Boise State's Kellen Moore was 19-of-27 for 288 yards and three TDs as the Broncos beat Oregon State 37-24. A three-year starter as a junior, Moore has 72 TD passes and only 14 interceptions in 30 games while completing two-thirds of his attempts.

"I expect a tough challenge," NMSU defensive back Jonte Green said. "They're the No. 3 team in the nation, so I know it's not going to be an easy game."

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According to Stats



•Boise State has won all previous 10 meeting between the former Big West Conference foes. The first three games in the series between these two teams were won by a total of eight points. However, the Broncos have won the last two games by a total score of 89-25.


•Boise State is averaging 40.3 points per game while holding their opponents to just 20 points a contest. Boise State is also gaining twice as many yards on offense this season, averaging exactly 500 yards while allowing just 228.7 yards.


•Boise State ranks second in the nation in rushing defense, allowing only 61.7 yards per game and 1.8 yards per carry.


•Boise State converted 9-of-14 attempts last week against Oregon State and has converted 21-of-42 (50%) third-down attempts this season.


•New Mexico State has yet to record a sack this season, the only FBS school yet to do so.


•New Mexico wide receiver/kick returner Taveon Rogers is averaging 28.8 yards per kick return this season, first in the WAC. Last week against Kansas, Rogers tied a school records with six kickoff returns and set a new school record with 219 kick return yards.


•Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore had a 196.6 quarterback rating last week, his highest in almost a year. Moore has only thrown 14 interceptions in 904 career attempts, the lowest interception percentage (1.54) among FBS quarterbacks with at least 800 attempts.


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