Despite a late rally from Fresno State, 14th ranked Boise State was able to hold of the Bulldogs 45-21 Wednesday night and remain undefeated with just three games left in the regular season.
Behind another 100-yard plus rushing performance by Ian Johnson (24 carries, 137 yds., 2 TD) and an efficient game by senior quarterback Jared Zabransky, the Broncos used a 35-0 run to capitalize against the struggling Bulldogs.
Zabransky threw for 180 yards on 19 of 25 passing and a tied a season high with three touchdown passes. Zabransky also ran for a season-high 56 yards.
Needing some much needed style points, the Broncos had the perfect stage set up at Bronco Stadium, with a national television audience and representatives from all four BCS bowl games in attendance—the Broncos did enough to show this team belongs in a BCS bowl game—barring a late season loss at San Jose State or Nevada or at home against Utah State.
The Broncos (9-0 overall, 5-0 Western Athletic Conference) jumped on the board early with a 38-yard field goal by Anthony Montgomery—however the lead wouldn't last long.
On the ensuing kickoff, Chastin West returned the kick 93 yards for the score, giving Fresno State (1-7, 1-3 WAC) momentum.
But, that lead wouldn't last long either.
Following a strong run by Johnson, Zabransky hit Drisan James near the sideline, as the senior wide receiver scooted in the end zone for a 27-yard score.
This lead—however would last.
The Broncos scored two more times (8-yard pass to Vinny Perretta and a 3-yard rush by Johnson) before halftime.
Opening the second half, Jerard Rabb caught a 4-yard pass from Zabransky for his first touchdown pass since being ejected for excessive celebration on Oct. 7 against Louisiana Tech. This time Rabb contained himself—despite an apology by WAC Commissioner Karl Benson this week stating Rabb should not have been ejected.
Rabb finished with a team high 69 yards receiving.
Boise State built a 38-7 lead in front of a sellout crowd of 30,604 fans before Tom Branstater found Joe Fernandez for a 20-yard touchdown pass. Branstater replaced sophomore Sean Norton in the second half after Norton was just 5 of 10 for 49 yards passing. Norton replaced Branstater as the starting quarterback against Louisiana State last week.
The Bulldogs gave themselves a fighting chance after Damon Jenkins took an under thrown pass from Zabransky and returned the interception for a touchdown—bringing the game within 17 points.
But the Broncos went back to their horse.
Johnson rushed 32 yards down to the two with everything that makes him a Heisman candidate with the vision to find a hole, power to break tackles, speed to burst through the hole and resiliency to power himself for another five yards where most backs would fall to the ground.
Johnson then was rewarded for his hard work with a 2-yard score—his second of the game and 20th of the season for the sophomore.
The Broncos have another small bye week with 10 days off before playing at San Jose State on Nov. 11.