From The Sports Network
By Gregg Xenakes, Associate College Football Editor
GAME NOTES: Winners of 18 straight, the fourth-ranked Boise State Broncos try to keep the nation's second-longest run intact as they welcome the Toledo Rockets to Idaho for a non-conference meeting on the blue turf this weekend.
Second only to Alabama, which has won 19 in a row, the Broncos have won 27 consecutive home games and if you take away the defeat they suffered on their own field in the postseason a few years back, that run goes to an incredible 57 in a row during the regular season.
The Broncos began 2010 as the third-ranked team in the nation and have won all four of their tests to date, including a 59-0 thrashing of New Mexico State in the Western Athletic Conference opener last week in Las Cruces, yet somehow that performance was not good enough to keep Oregon from jumping over them in the most recent AP poll and yet that doesn't seem to bother head coach Chris Petersen all that much.
Coach Petersen now has a record of 53-4 as the leader of Boise State since taking over for Dan Hawkins who moved on to Colorado.
As for the Rockets, representing the Mid-American Conference, they had a three-game win streak heading into last week's contest versus Wyoming at home, but the Cowboys proved too much for Toledo in what turned into a 20-15 victory for the visitors at the Glass Bowl. Outside of the two-point effort the Rockets put up against Arizona in the season opener, the 15 points posted by the team last weekend were the fewest of the campaign.
Boise State is the fourth-highest ranked team the Rockets have ever faced and the highest since Toledo was blitzed by top-ranked Ohio State, 49-0, back in 1998.
This battle represents the first-ever meeting between the institutions on the gridiron, although they were originally scheduled to face each other in 2009 but schedules had to be shuffled and Toledo ended up with Colorado and the Broncos visited Bowling Green. In 2011, BSU heads to Toledo to complete their agreement.
"It's disappointing," said Toledo head coach Tim Beckman of his team's efforts against Wyoming. "We were our own worst enemy. Wyoming did a great job coming off three tough games against Texas, Boise State and Air Force. Dave Christensen did a good job of getting his players ready to play. Until we correct some of our mistakes, it's going to be a tough road."
The Rockets couldn't get anything going on offense and it wasn't until the fourth quarter that the unit finally put some points on the board with a six- yard TD run by David Fluellen. Later in the frame Adonis Thomas hit the end zone for the team on a one-yard effort, but the comeback bid fell short as the squad was denied a two-point conversion.
Toledo fumbled the ball three times, losing possession once, and was flagged for nine penalties that cost the squad 71 yards in field position. Worst of all, the Rockets managed to convert a woeful 1-of-14 on third down and just 1- of-5 on fourth down in the meeting. Quarterbacks Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens combined to hit 14-of-35 passes for 184 yards, while the rushing attack posted 190 yards in the setback.
From a defensive standpoint, the Rockets limited Wyoming to only 93 yards on 44 rushing attempts and sacked Austyn Carta-Samuels twice while intercepting the visiting QB once, not to mention coming up with a safety late in the third quarter to finally put the team on the scoreboard. Unfortunately, too much went wrong for the Toledo defense early on and they were never able to fully recover.
"We came out flat and started out slow," said linebacker Dan Molls of the Toledo defense versus Wyoming. "We gave up a couple of big plays that really hurt us. You have to give credit to Wyoming. They made plays at critical points in the game. We worked on those in practice, but we just didn't execute."
Not surprisingly, the Toledo offense has been having a tough time getting into gear this season and now ranks 11th in the MAC and 114th in the country this week with an average of only 283 ypg. The passing attack, which has been mainly handled by Dantin, is generating a mere 155.8 ypg and that too is one of the weaker efforts in the nation. Dantin has managed to convert 64.5 percent of his attempts, but having only five TDs and four INTs doesn't exactly put the opposition on notice.
Although, Dantin has shown his worth by posting four rushing TDs thus far, even though his average run is barely two-and-a-half yards per carry. Instead of taking off and leaving the pocket, Dantin needs to try harder to get the ball to Eric Page who already has a team-best 29 catches for 351 yards and two touchdowns.
As for the Toledo defense, its 2.8 sacks per game has the unit ranked second in the MAC and 21st in the country, so at least the team is moving in the right direction. However, if the pressure is not there in the backfield, opposing quarterbacks are finding plenty of outlets down the field and are currently averaging 255.2 ypg through the air, a number that has Toledo ranked 11th in the conference and 102nd in the nation this week. If the Rockets are not careful, Boise State and quarterback Kellen Moore could exceed that number in the first half alone if the Broncos really want to put on a display offensively.
Unfortunately for the Broncos and Moore, even if they want to run up the score and shoot down the Rockets as many expect could happen, it won't help them from a national perspective. How else do you explain winning a game 59-0 and still dropping in the polls?
Before New Mexico State knew what happened, the Broncos were ahead 24-0 after one period of play and 38-0 at the break before calling off the dogs and sending in the second team. Moore finished the outing 13-of-18 for 196 yards and three touchdowns and Doug Martin carried the ball 10 times for a game-high 94 yards and a score. The rushing attack of the Broncos rolled up 299 yards and tallied four TDs, so it wasn't as though coach Petersen was beating up a defenseless opponent, he was in fact trying to limit the damage but the Aggies still couldn't handle the constant pounding.
The BSU defense was again on point as it held the Aggies to just eight completed passes and 198 yards of total offense. NMSU never made it into the red zone and was limited to 6-of-17 on third down in the meeting.
"Our guys played hard, the defense set the tone early, got those turnovers," coach Petersen said of the unit's efforts against NMSU. "If we can get that going, you know our guys did pretty well."
Moore, who is now a staggering 30-1 as a starter, trails only TCU's Andy Dalton (34) in wins among active starting quarterbacks. The junior signal- caller has been nearly flawless during his time in Idaho and since the first game of 2009 he has been intercepted a mere four times on 544 pass attempts. The gunslinger set the NCAA single-season record with as ratio of only 0.0069 by tossing only three picks in 431 chances a year ago.
This year it is more of the same for Moore as he has thrown 11 TDs and only one INT in 113 attempts, showing off a 176.2 efficiency rating which, when combined with the other numbers produced in the passing game by the Broncos, has the team ranked second in the nation in that department.
It is one thing to have the nation's third-best scoring offense with 45.0 ppg, but to combine that with a total defense that is tops in the country with a mere 223.5 ypg allowed, it is almost unfair what Boise State has been doing to opponents so far in 2010, yet the level of respect that the program deserves still isn't there.