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December 2, 2009
Moore's 5 TD throws keep No. 6 BSU perfect
BOISE, Idaho (AP) Though Nevada threatened, there's still no team in the WAC that can conquer Boise State.
Will the BCS let one of its big boys try?
"I'm very impressed," Orange Bowl CEO Eric Poms said Friday night of the perfect, No. 6 Broncos, waving his can of Coke toward their funky blue turf.
Kellen Moore tied his career high with five touchdown passes, three on what he called "back-pocket stuff" to fill-in converted linebacker Dan Paul, and Boise State remained undefeated with a 44-33 victory over the Wolf Pack Friday night.
With executives from the Sugar, Fiesta and Orange bowls watching - and hearing fans' chants of "BCS! BCS!" in wet and cold conditions - the Broncos (12-0, 7-0 WAC) turned back Nevada's rally from 24 points down in the first half.
Boise State locked up at least a share of its seventh WAC championship in eight seasons, pending one more game at home against lowly New Mexico State before BCS bids are announced next weekend.
"We're not into sharing the WAC title," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "We want to play for something big."
Boise State, sixth in the latest BCS standings but far from a lock for a bid to one of the marquee bowls, led 34-26 entering the fourth quarter. Then came Moore's fifth scoring pass, to brother Kirby, to clinch its 24th consecutive regular-season win.
"We've taken care of what we can control, and we're excited for whatever happens," Kellen Moore said. "At the same time, we can't control (the BCS)."
Vai Taua had 160 yards rushing on 24 carries for Nevada (8-4, 7-1), which had averaged 52 points per game while winning eight straight. The Wolf Pack lost for the 10th consecutive time to Boise State.
Doug Martin, beneficiary of a changed game plan after the Broncos lost record-setting receiver Austin Pettis to a sprained ankle on a failed, trick-play two-point conversion early, ran for 128 yards on 16 carries to show Boise has more than Moore's passing.
The lovable little team that shocked Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl can only hope it's enough for the BCS to ask it back.
Maybe the BCS should compute this: Boise State is 72-4 this decade, and remains a fresh alternative to the old-school, college football establishment the series represents.
"In South Florida, there's a lot of buzz over TCU and Boise," the Orange Bowl's Poms said at halftime during his first-ever trip to Boise, standing just outside the BSU athletic director's suite.
No. 4 TCU, which Poms will see play in person Saturday, is primed for automatic inclusion in the big-bucks series as the highest ranked outsider.
Oklahoma State, Iowa and Penn State are among the two-loss BCS teams poised to keep undefeated Boise State out of the BCS for the second consecutive postseason.
"We've got one more game and if we win, we've done everything we can possibly do. And we've done it for two years in a row," Petersen said. "We have confidence in the system and faith in the system that it should take care of the teams that should be in there."
For most of the second half, it was a possibility that Boise State would lose at home for the third time in 64 games and drop its first home conference game since 1998 - when the Broncos were in the even smaller-time Big West.
Resilient Nevada absorbed a demoralizing, 95-yard touchdown return on the opening kickoff by Boise State's Titus Young and being in a 27-3 hole after 20 minutes.
"Our kids were confident and comfortable and knew what they had to do. Then all of sudden, they return that opening kickoff and you're scratching your head," Wolf Pack coach Chris Ault said.
Yet the Pack clawed back behind two touchdown passes by Colin Kaepernick, a 1,000-yard runner forced to throw more because of the deficit, to get to 27-19 in the third quarter on a 37-yard field goal by Ricky Drake.
The Broncos answered with Moore's fourth touchdown pass, to wide open tight end Tommy Gallarda after a series of runs. Moore's 37th TD throw of the season, against just three interceptions, extended his single-season school record.
But on the next play from scrimmage Taua, the leading runner on the NCAA's first offense to have three 1,000-yard rushers in the same season, sprinted untouched for a 71-yard touchdown. The Wolf Pack was back to 34-26 entering the final quarter.
When replay officials overturned an official's call and ruled Kirby Moore fumbled at the end of a catch, the entire Nevada roster was off the bench and jumping around on the field celebrating the game's first turnover. The Wolf Pack had the ball near midfield with the chance to tie.
But they went three-and-out to end the third quarter.
Kyle Brotzman kicked a 27-yard field goal to put the Broncos up 37-26 with 10:55 left, before the clinching Moore-to-Moore connection.
Kellen Moore had a skittish night, especially considering Nevada entered ranked 119th out of 120 bowl subdivision teams in pass defense. The nation's leader in passing efficiency consistently overthrew open receivers and finished 17 for 33 for 262 yards - the lowest completion percentage of his stellar career.
"It wasn't the prettiest game," the sophomore said. "But anytime you can finish the game and win a share of the WAC then, then you've got to be happy."
Just not satisfied.