Boise State and Fresno State renew their respectful rivalry Friday night at Bronco Stadium.
The schools have had the premier programs in the WAC for a decade, and they have a ton of respect-even admiration-for each other.
Boise State has the upper hand, having won eight of nine WAC meetings. The Broncos served notice that they would take over the league by beating the undefeated Bulldogs in 2001, Boise State's first year in the WAC.
"I've been a fan of what Boise State's not only done as a football team, but as an entire program from top to bottom," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "… I have a lot of respect for how they do things and what they do. It's a great challenge."
This is the Broncos' third straight high-emotion game. They faced Hawaii with the WAC title likely on the line for the Warriors and rival Idaho-and won the two games by a combined score of 94-21.
"Hopefully (emotion) equates to tremendous focus," coach Chris Petersen said.
• Boise State punt returner Chris Potter was named the WAC Special Teams Player of the Week after his 76-yard return for a touchdown.
• Boise State is 32-2 in non-Saturday, regular-season games. That includes a 7-1 mark in those games against Fresno State.
• Boise State has won a school-record 23 straight games overall and can tie the school record for consecutive home wins (31) this week.
Series History: Boise State leads Fresno State, 8-4 (last meeting, 2009, 51-34 Boise State).
Scouting The Offense: The Broncos have scored at least 33 points in every game this season and at least 42 points in six straight games. They rank in the top 10 in the nation in every significant category except rushing, where they're 16th at 214.3 yards per game. They're beating people with a traditional run game, a wildcat run game, possession throws and deep throws. And they're doing it so quickly that quarterback Kellen Moore usually doesn't even take a snap in the fourth quarter.
Scouting The Defense: Boise State faced the No. 1 (Hawaii) and No. 4 (Idaho) passing attacks the past two weeks. The starting quarterbacks for those teams combined for 33-of-62 passing for 245 yards with one touchdown, two interceptions and 10 sacks. Combined, Bryant Moniz of Hawaii and Nate Enderle of Idaho were held 394 yards below their season averages for passing yards. The Broncos rank in the top 10 in every major defensive category, including first in tackles for loss.
Quote To Note: "He was banged up early, so what he's doing is not surprising, it's very concerning, but it's certainly Bulldog football all the way."-Boise State coach Chris Petersen, on Fresno State tailback Robbie Rouse's recent tear
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
This Week's Game: Fresno State at Boise State, Nov. 19-The WAC rivals usually play entertaining games, but the Bulldogs have had major problems on the blue turf. Since Boise State joined the WAC, it has outscored Fresno in Boise 206-68 in four meetings. By contrast, Boise State is 4-1 in Fresno and hasn't won any game by more than 17 points.
Keys To The Game: Fresno State needs to find some success on the ground to balance its offensive attack and keep the Broncos' pass rush off of QB Ryan Colburn. Fresno has run the ball with great success recently, but Boise State is No. 2 against the run. Boise State, on the other hand, must contain DLs Chris Carter and Logan Harrell, who have nine sacks apiece.
Players To Watch:
QB Kellen Moore - He has completed 70 percent of his passes in eight straight games. He almost never gets sacked but could face unusual pressure from Fresno State's front four.
WR Titus Young - He has six touchdown catches, all on deep balls. As a result, he's 14th in the nation in receiving yards at 91.6 yards per game. He's averaging 17.5 yards per catch.
RB Jeremy Avery - Avery leads the team with 11 touchdowns despite only getting a third of the first-team carries. He's effective in the wildcat package in the red zone and also made a nice touchdown catch last week.
• Starting MLB Byron Hout is out for at least the rest of the regular season with a broken foot. Several players will be involved in replacing him, but senior Derrell Acrey - who has started off and on throughout his career-will get the start.
• LG Joe Kellogg and TE Chandler Koch haven't played in the past two games but are expected to return this week. Kellogg likely will share time with Faraji Wright, who played well in his absence.