BOISE - The No. 4 Boise State Broncos finally made it to November. BSU blew through the drudgery that was its opening weeks against Western Athletic Conference cellar dwellers, outscoring its three conference foes 166-20.
Now, the calendar flips to November and the Broncos face Hawaii (7-2, 5-0 WAC), a team that fought hard against USC to open the season, beat Army in New York (by far the longest road trip any NCAA team has taken this season), lost to Colorado 31-13 and won everything else.
The Warriors enter the game with the nation's best pass offense (395.44 ypg). The Broncos enter it just glad to have a game with some color. After bursting through the national door to open the season by beating Virginia Tech (6-2, 4-0 ACC), the Broncos (7-0, 3-0 WAC) have largely been hiding in the corner, like that kid no one wants to dance with, but you just know the fella can cut some rug.
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Well, care to dance Broncos?
This Saturday BSU will play a 1:30 p.m. game for the first time all season. The erratic schedule is great for television, but makes it hard for fans to consistently view the team, which hasn't played the past two Saturdays.
The Broncos were passed in the polls by No. 3 TCU over their 'idle' weekend. BSU head coach Chris Petersen, who last week asked not to be asked about the Bowl Championship Series until season's end, was asked about it at his Monday presser.
"What are they?" Petersen asked.
He seriously didn't know (or really care) that his team fell a spot in the rankings. A reporter told him the current spot and guess what Pete said.
"If we gotta be jumped by somebody, that's a good team to be jumped by; we like the Frogs," Petersen said. "That's about all I think about it."
Imagine, so much rides on the BCS. The national championship is decided by it, as would be a Rose Bowl bid, or any other BCS throw. And Petersen doesn't mind. He has other things to worry about, like Hawaii.
You can almost see the talk like a mosquito in Petersen's ear; it gets real loud for a second, then you brush it away. The best time to kill that bug is to wait for it to feed off you, then you smash it. His Broncos have killed the BCS twice. Will it bite this season? Is the Bronco blood sweet enough?
Pete gets pestered
"I was in the locker room the other day and some of the national guys were on [TV] and they were talking about how Boise State needs to make a statement and play perfect and clean.
And I'm thinking, 'No we don't; that's not our thing. We're trying to play as hard as we can play and the best we can play.
They're putting words in our mouth.'
One of our kids was standing there and he said, "Whatever happened to just winning the game?"
And I said, 'That's why we don't listen to these guys, cuz you just play hard and that's what it's all about.'
It loses a lot when you nit-pick a lot and it has to be perfect. They got 85 scholarships and really good coaches too. I think people forget that."
So much talk gets thrown around the talk-show circuit about how one team should absolutely crush another. Well, it happens sometimes, but there are pockets in the West where good players have to go because there are only 28 schools out here in the FBS. Hawaii ain't bad digs for kids on the college look list. As the population of this nation increases, so will the level of skill among athletes. Parity will come. It may take generations, but it will come.
Petersen announced Monday that starting tight end Tommy Gallarda will miss thre remainder of the regular season with a broken foot. The 6-foot-5, 259-pound senior had a surgical screw put in the foot last week and may return for a bowl game.
Petersen said all other injured players are day-to-day.
That's receivers baby, but actually the Warriors usually play it safe, use four receivers and keep a tailback in to keep you honest on defense.
The mark set so far this season for the Warrior pass offense (395.44 ypg) is 35 yards higher than Arkansas, the second best pass offense. Brian Moniz finally figured out the Hawaii centrifuge and has this offense swirling.
"It's a typical Hawaii quarterback," Petersen said. "Is it Timmy Chang? Is it Colt Brennan? It's the same style, where they drift in the pocket. He uses the entire field. They throw it downfield. They got a little run game in there to keep you off balance."
Greg Salas leads the nation with 1,236 receiving yards on 81 grabs and eight TDs. He is one of three receivers with 1,000 yards this season. Kealoha Pilares is fourth, with 945 yards, 78 catches and 12 scores. So Salas has more yards, Pilares more scores.
"Haven't they been there forever?" Petersen asked. "They're big physical tough guys. They're not going to go down easy. They play a very physical brand of offense."
Moniz has both as targets in the slot, inside, outside the hash, everywhere. They move around so much, break off so many routes, they make the offense nigh impossible to defend.
Moniz will hand off to Alex Green '(5.26 ypc) to change it up. That's the 'Run' in Run-n-Shoot.
"You sleep on them because you think it's all about throwing the ball and they're going to hurt you with the run game," Petersen said. "He's a big guy that can protect and then they can give him the ball and he's a bruising type runner that goes north and south and will make you pay in a hurry."
Then Hawaii Moniz will scramble if it all breaks down. He ran for 43 yards on seven carries in the win against Idaho last week.
"He's a scrambler," Petersen said. "He's being [more careful] so he doesn't get dinged, but he runs and goes down; he's fast."
BSU gets knocked every minute because of its schedule. Well, this week begins the meat portion of the 12-course meal. The Broncos' four November games will determine its BCS acumen. They play Hawaii, Idaho, Fresno State and Nevada this month. These are the only other teams in the conference without losing records (Idaho is 4-4). BSU has also played fewer games than any other team in the FBS. Most teams in the top 10 are 9-0, 8-1, but BSU is only 7-0. With their byes gone, the Broncos will play for five consecutive weekends in a row. They play Saturday, then the next three Friday nights and finish December 4, against Utah State.
All of those games will be on the ESPN family of networks.