May 20, 2019

Fresno State’s poor performance boosts Boise State’s BCS credentials

Associated Press File

BOISE, Idaho—For about one quarter it looked as if Fresno State had a glimmer of hope of holding Boise State’s Bowl Championship Series dreams.

The Broncos spent the remaining three quarters proving head coach Pat Hill’s post-game comments to be true.

“I think the truth of the matter is people are scared to play them,” Hill said following the 51-0 defeat. “They don’t want to play them … I’ll say it, I have no problems saying it. I’ll take Boise State against anybody in the country. What else do they have to do? They’re on the verge of their fourth undefeated season in six years, you’ve got to be kidding me.”

The 10-0 Broncos rallied to 48 points and 428 total yards in the second, third and fourth quarters, putting an emphatic stamp on a letter to the BCS that says in bold print, “We deserve a shot at the title game.”

On a weekend when fellow undefeated non-automatic qualifier TCU had the week off, No. 4 Boise State spent a three-hour ESPN timeslot boosting its resume in front of a national audience against a deflated and offensively flat Fresno State squad.

The ‘Dogs were held scoreless in the game for the first time in 12 seasons, and just the third time in the Pat Hill era, and the 14-year head coach never undersold the talented, orange-clad squad he faced Friday night.

“This Boise State team is the real deal,” Hill said. “I just wish them the best of luck. I hope they can make it to the big dance because they deserve it in my mind. I feel I can say that we’ve played against some pretty darn good football teams in my time. Never have we been manhandled like that.”

Two turnovers by quarterback Kellen Moore on the Bronco’s first two possessions both set Fresno State up in scoring position and kept Boise State off the board. But the Bulldog offense, which had the worst offensive output since 2003, managed just two first downs the entire first half and gave one of the most explosive offenses in the country plenty of time to operate. Had the Bulldogs not mustered 55 yards on its final drive of the game, Fresno State would have not eclipsed 100 yards of total offense.

Moore’s offense dominated the time of possession by nearly 13 minutes, putting a Fresno State defense that played relatively well in a precarious position. Although Hill praised the effort of his much-improved defense, especially against Boise State’s run game, the Bulldog offense was severely out of sync from a week prior. Of the Bulldogs’ seven first-half drives, only one lasted longer than two minutes, and it ultimately resulted in a fumble.

“The floodgates really didn’t open until we couldn’t execute on offense,” quarterback Ryan Colburn said. “Our defense had a great plan and were playing well and we just didn’t give them a chance.”
Colburn easily had the worst performance of his Bulldog career, completing just six of his 23 pass attempts for 76 yards and a pair of interceptions. On the other side of the blue turf, Moore, had a Heisman-esque night, completed 71-percent of his throws for 333 yards and four scores.

“Kellen Moore had an unbelievable night tonight,” Hill said. “He made some big plays on third down, guys catching it with one foot in bounds on the sideline, under pressure throwing the ball up, just launching them for touchdowns.”

The announced crowd of 33,454 witnessed a record-breaking show, and not just for Moore. On the same night the junior quarterback solidified himself in Bronco lore as the school’s all-time leading passer, his favorite target rewrote the record books as well. Senior wide receiver Titus Young became Boise State’s all-time leading receiver in yards after an eight-catch, 164-yard evening. He and fellow receiver Austin Pettis have given Moore plenty of comfort in 2010.

“Who in the SEC has two (wide receivers) like that?” Hill said of Young and Pettis. “I don’t think anybody does. These guys are the real deal. They’re very, very good.”

What the Southestern Conference does have is perhaps Boise State’s biggest roadblock in its quest for the BCS National Championship game: Auburn. The 11-0 Auburn Tigers are an automatic-qualifying school, but in Hill’s eyes Boise State, orange uniforms and all, may just be the NCAA’s best competitor.

“Someday we’ve got to wake up and say we just can’t listen to all the people who get all the money,” Hill said. “We’ve got to listen to the people that have the best teams. They’re a great football team.”

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