UC Davis (1-2) at (5) Boise State (4-0)
Saturday, October 3rd, 8:00 p.m. (et)
From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Enjoying their highest regular-season ranking ever in the AP Poll, the fifth-ranked Boise State Broncos try to keep the good times rolling as they entertain the UC Davis Aggies in non-conference action at Broncos Stadium.
The Broncos are enjoying yet another great early season with four wins in as many tries. The team enters play this week with a 21-game home win streak which is second behind only Oklahoma which has taken 25 in a row in Norman. BSU began 2009 with back-to-back home victories over Oregon and Miami-Ohio, and then followed that up with a thrilling back-and-forth volley versus Fresno State (51-34) to open up the Western Athletic Conference portion of its schedule.
Last week, the Broncos made the trip to Bowling Green and easily took care of yet another member of the Mid-American Conference with a 49-14 thumping of the Falcons.
As for UC Davis, a team that is a member of the Football Championship Subdivision, it fell to both Fresno State and Montana to begin the season before taking out Western Oregon (29-13) last Saturday.
BSU has won all three previous meetings with the Aggies, the most recent of which coming in 1985 by a score of 13-9 when Boise State competed in the Big Sky Conference.
"I'm very happy for the players and staff to get the win," said Aggie head coach Bob Biggs following the team's triumph over Division II Western Oregon last weekend. "Obviously it was hard-fought. I thought Western Oregon did some good things and had us on our heels for a little bit."
Kicker Sean Kelley was huge for the Aggies as he knocked through three field goals for the squad, including a career-best 46-yard effort. Quarterback Greg Denham responded by throwing for 225 yards and a pair of touchdowns for the offense.
On the defensive side of the ball for UC Davis, the spotlight belonged to Kenneth Brown who logged an interception, forced a fumble, blocked a PAT and tallied two pass breakups. For his efforts, Brown was named the Great West Conference Defensive Player of the Week.
Even though the Aggies were blown out of the water in their season-opener versus Fresno State, the squad has slowly moved back toward respectability, particularly on the defensive side of the ball where they are giving up 27 ppg. In terms of pass efficiency defense, UC Davis ranks 57th in the FCS with a rating of 121.3.
The squad could stand to get a stronger push at the line of scrimmage though, considering the group has just three sacks in as many games and is 78th in the country in tackles for loss with just 5.3 per outing.
The rushing offense has been missing from the UC Davis attack thus far, averaging a mere 48.7 ypg to rank 111th in the country. However, the passing game seems to have picked up the slack with 258.3 ypg to place 17th nationally. Receiver Chris Carter, who is ninth nationally with 102.7 ypg through the air, is actually first with 11 catches per game.
"It took us a minute to get comfortable and get dialed in and Bowling Green came out playing very hard which we knew they would," noted Boise State head coach Chris Petersen after his team's victory last Saturday. "Sometimes with the run game it takes a minute to kinda get settled in and get a little rhythm to us, but it was nice once we started to hit stride, kids started to make some plays."
Hitting their stride might be an understatement, given that the Broncos rolled up 267 yards and five touchdowns on 35 rushing attempts. Getting another 247 yards and a pair of touchdowns from quarterback Kellen Moore says quite a bit about his maturity and the balance that the BSU offense enjoys.
"It's hard not having DJ (Harper) here, we've said that all along," Petersen went on to say about the running attack for his team.
The coaching staff has benefited from putting multiple players in the backfield and the loss of Harper to injury simply opened the door a bit wider for someone like Doug Martin who generated a game-high 116 yards and a score on 13 carries. Throw in Jeremy Avery (92 yards, one TD) and Titus Young (43 yards, 2 TDs) and there are few programs at the FBS level that enjoy such flexibility.
While the rushing attack for the Broncos was humming along at a smooth pace, the defense for the visitors made sure that Bowling Green was going to have trouble moving the ball on the ground. The Falcons managed just 93 net yards on 33 attempts and when the quarterback combination of Tyler Sheehan and Aaron Pankratz tried to alter the scheme the Broncos were ready with a pass defense that allowed just 189 yards and one touchdown, while intercepting a pair of Sheehan passes.
Through four games this season the Broncos have the top turnover margin in the WAC, ranking 11th in the nation at the moment with a plus-1.5 per game. The squad's secondary has been tremendous, again ranking first in the league and fifth in the country with a rating of 83.69, having allowed just 163.3 ypg through the air. After the explosion by Fresno State's Ryan Mathews on the ground a few weeks back the Broncos saw their yards allowed rushing balloon just a bit, but it still has them rated second in the conference (120.5 ypg).
Despite his youth Moore, who was the WAC Freshman of the Year a season ago, is simply cruising along with a pass efficiency rating of 177.51, a number that has the quarterback not only ranked second in the league, but also second in the nation right now. Moore has already thrown 10 touchdowns and has been picked off just once in 101 attempts, but perhaps the most impressive number for him and the offensive line is that he has been sacked only twice and that is easily the best number in the country.
Putting together a strong stable of running backs is one way to keep Moore from feeling the pressure, but when coach Petersen calls on his quarterback he is always there to make a play. Expect similar results this weekend when the Broncos put down the Aggies on the blue turf.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Boise State 55, UC Davis 14
09/30 10:29:13 ET