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September 30, 2008AP) -- For most of this decade, Boise State has been the team to beat in the WAC.
The 17th-ranked Broncos are hungry to reclaim that title.
After seeing its run of five straight league titles squelched in last year's regular-season finale, Boise State looks to take its first step toward reclaiming the WAC crown Wednesday night when it hosts Louisiana Tech in the conference opener for both teams.
Since joining the league in 2001, Boise State has been the top program in the WAC. The Broncos have won five league titles in seven seasons while going 46-2 in conference games since 2002, and 28-0 at home all-time in WAC play. They've also won their last 45 regular-season home games overall.
"What else do you say?" Louisiana Tech coach Derek Dooley said. "They're very deserving of all the attention that they've been getting. Their formula has been they invested in their program, put a lot of money into it, got some good coaches, they recruited well and they play with the kind of intangibles that all championship football teams play with."
Hawaii and quarterback Colt Brennan wrested that championship away in 2007, beating Boise State 39-27 in the regular-season finale to claim the WAC crown.
This season is beginning differently. While Hawaii struggles to replace the departed Brennan, coach Chris Petersen's Broncos (3-0) appear to have regained the role of WAC favorite - especially after a 37-32 win at then-No. 17 Oregon on Sept. 20.
Boise State jumped out to a 37-13 lead in Eugene, then held off a fourth-quarter rally by the Ducks to crack the Top 25 for the first time this season. Redshirt freshman quarterback Kellen Moore had perhaps the best game of his young career, throwing for 386 yards and three touchdowns with one interception.
"Coming into this place and getting the victory, it's big. And it's only going to get bigger from here," said Moore, who's completed more than 70 percent of his passes for 840 yards and five scores. "I think we're really good. But you still gotta take it week to week."
This week, they'll hope to start making good on the team's 2008 slogan: "Take back the WAC."
They certainly like their chances, with an emerging star under center in Moore, standout senior running back Ian Johnson still manning the backfield and a defense that gave up only seven points in each of the season's first two games.
"I think people are talking about us because of what we've done the first few games, so that's great," Petersen said. "Now people are going to have a chance to watch us, so it's very important for us to come out and play with great energy and take the next step in our whole development as a team."
The Broncos are 52-4 in WAC play since joining the league.
That mark includes six consecutive wins against Louisiana Tech, including a 45-31 road victory last year. The Bulldogs' last three visits to Boise have resulted in losses by at least 26 points, including a pair of 55-14 drubbings in 2004 and 2006.
"These are the kind of games we should want to play in as a program. They're not something we should be scared of. We should embrace it, enjoy it," Dooley said. "How well we'll handle it, I don't know."
Louisiana Tech (2-1) didn't handle a ranked opponent well on Sept. 6, when the Bulldogs lost 29-0 at then-No. 14 Kansas. They allowed 412 passing yards - not a promising statistic if they hope to slow down Boise State's high-powered offense.
They rebounded Sept. 20 with a 41-26 win over Southeastern Louisiana, as six different rushers combined to gain 249 yards. Still, quarterback Taylor Bennett, in his first year at Louisiana Tech after transferring from Georgia Tech, has completed just 41 percent of his passes while throwing two touchdowns and three interceptions.
Louisiana Tech is 2-20 against ranked opponents since 2000, including seven straight losses since a 40-28 upset of then-No. 23 Fresno State on Dec. 2, 2005.