SAN DIEGO (AP) Still stunned at seeing their perfect season and BCS chances sail into oblivion on a missed field goal attempt, there's nothing the No. 10 Boise State Broncos can do but try to salvage what's left of their season.
A 36-35 loss to TCU dropped Boise State into second place in the Mountain West Conference. Starting Saturday night at San Diego State, Kellen Moore and the Broncos have three games left to try to grab the best bowl berth they can.
Wide receiver Tyler Shoemaker said he thinks the Broncos (8-1, 3-1) will bounce back, just like they did from last year's late-season loss at Nevada.
"I don't know if you can ever be prepared for that kind of thing," Shoemaker said. "It's something you work for, but it's kind of still a shock. It's similar to last year as far as the feeling and the general environment of the team and the guys. I think like last year we're going to bounce back and we've got a lot of games left to play.
"I don't think you can ever just erase it from your memory," Shoemaker said. "You take what you can out of it and move forward, strive to get better. There's a lot of stuff we can fix from that game. But all we have is another opportunity to play this Saturday."
The Broncos had a chance to win a last-second thriller Saturday, but freshman Dan Goodale's 39-yard kick sailed wide right as time expired to give TCU the victory and a clear shot at the Mountain West championship.
Last year, Boise State's unbeaten season and BCS hopes were spoiled when senior kicker Kyle Brotzman missed from short range in regulation and overtime, allowing Nevada to take a 34-31 overtime victory.
"You know, the good thing is there isn't a lot we'd do differently," coach Chris Petersen said. "Every game there is a few things you'd like to have back. But the kids played hard ... they gave us what they had."
San Diego State (6-3, 3-2) is bowl-eligible for the second straight year and wants to stay in the mix for the league's postseason berths. But the Aztecs might be without star running back Ronnie Hillman, who sprained his left ankle in an 18-15 win at Colorado State on Saturday.
Coach Rocky Long said the team will decide at game time if Hillman can play. If he can't, that will put more of the load on senior quarterback Ryan Lindley, who with 11,494 yards has broken the school and conference record for career passing yards.
Hillman "is a really good player," Petersen said. "But I will say this, they've got an NFL quarterback as well. Their style is a little bit different than TCU, but TCU is a really good example of a running team as well and our defense did a pretty good job on that aspect. But they capitalized on the other. So, SDSU is equally capable of the same thing. They can run the heck out of the ball but they can throw it as well."
Long said the loss to TCU probably makes the Broncos dangerous rather than vulnerable.
"I think that teams that have the kind of success that they have had over the years, there is a certain expectation level," Long said. "They expect to win every game, so when they don't win one it puts them on edge and it makes them want to play better in the next game."
Aztecs linebacker Miles Burris said it's clear from film that BSU is well-coached and great at running its scheme.
"Every play someone has to concentrate on exactly what they have to do," Burris said. "One breakdown, one guy not doing their job will lead to a huge play. We have to go out there from the first play to the last and concentrate on what we have to do and play as hard as we can."
SDSU has won three of four.
"The way we've been playing the last couple of weeks, I think we're in a groove right now and we need to continue with that," Lindley said.
This will be the first game between the schools. In Boise State's only other visit to San Diego, it lost 17-16 to TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl to ruin a perfect record.