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November 2, 2011

Boise St.-UNLV Preview

(AP) -- Expected to soon receive an invitation to join the Big East, Boise State has business to take care of in the Mountain West if it's going to earn an at-large BCS bid.

The Broncos are hoping their chances to secure one don't end in Nevada for a second straight season.

Kellen Moore looks to become the winningest quarterback in NCAA history and help No. 5 Boise State build some momentum for next week's critical matchup as it visits UNLV on Saturday night.

Following 10 years in the Western Athletic Conference, Boise State (7-0, 2-0) is playing its first season in the Mountain West - and maybe its last.

The Big East is expected to offer football-only invites to the Broncos, as well as Navy and Air Force, and commissioner John Marinatto said he expected the schools to accept. Boise State president Bob Kustra met with conference officials last Thursday but said the university had not committed to the Big East.

"As we have indicated consistently, we will take our time in evaluating conference affiliation options," Kustra said in a statement.

While there is a significant lure of joining an automatic-qualifying conference for the BCS, the Broncos can still make a strong case to receive an at-large berth by going undefeated.

Moore may be the biggest reason why that might happen. He's helped turn Boise State into a powerhouse, going 45-2 as a starter. His victory total is tied with former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy for the most in NCAA history.

"It's a neat honor, but I'm in a fortunate situation," Moore said. "I've been fortunate to play for four years with a lot of great guys, and there's a lot of us and a bunch of people that got this record."

The senior has 12,877 career passing yards, 88 shy of passing Houston's Kevin Kolb and Central Michigan's Dan LeFevour for eighth all-time. This season, he leads the nation in completion percentage (76.3) while ranking fourth in touchdown passes (24).

Moore went 23 of 29 for 281 yards with three TDs in a 37-26 victory over Air Force on Oct. 22. It was the Broncos' smallest margin of victory this year.

They were idle last weekend but dropped one spot in the BCS standings to No. 5, getting surpassed by Stanford following its triple-overtime win at USC.

The biggest remaining obstacle for Boise State appears to be a Nov. 12 home game against TCU, the only other Mountain West team to receive votes in this week's AP poll.

Before that test, the Broncos head back to Sam Boyd Stadium in Vegas, where they defeated Utah 26-3 in the MAACO Bowl on Dec. 22.

They were relegated to that matchup after their national title and BCS hopes ended with a 34-31 overtime loss at Nevada last Nov. 26. That defeat snapped their 24-game winning streak.

The Broncos, though, are ready for a strong stretch run following a break in the schedule that allowed many key contributors to get healthy, including defensive tackle Billy Winn and safety George Iloka.

"I think it's important to step back and stay away," coach Chris Petersen said. "We played (seven) games in a row, so it was good to let the guys catch their breath a little bit, and that's the good news. The bad news is the guys were in a pretty good rhythm."

That's certainly true of Doug Martin, who has rushed for seven TDs in the last four games while averaging 136.3 yards. He totaled 202 yards in three September games.

"(Moore) might not be the best player on their offense. I think the running back's an awfully good player," UNLV coach Bobby Hauck told the school's official website.

Hauck has an emerging running back of his own in freshman Dionza Bradford, who posted his second straight 100-yard game and first career touchdown in a 38-35 victory over Colorado State last Saturday. Bradofrd had 122 of the team's season-best 244 rushing yards as UNLV snapped a three-game skid.

Boise State surrendered a season-high 264 on the ground in its last game.

The Broncos should expect to see Sean Reilly and Caleb Herring taking snaps for UNLV. Neither has been particularly effective as the Rebels are ranked 114th in the FBS in passing (129.7 yards per game).

This is the seventh matchup between Boise State and UNLV, with the home team winning each time. The last meeting in Las Vegas was a 31-26 Rebels victory on Nov. 6, 1976.










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