Boise State set for challenges ahead

The Boise State starters have had little to get excited about lately. Sure, their team is No. 3 in the BCS standings and they still have hopes of playing for a national championship.

But because they have faced the worst of the WAC early in their schedule, Boise State starters have only played two complete games. The last time they played all four quarters was against Oregon State on Sept. 25.

Since then, they have beaten their three opponents 164-14.

They are looking forward to playing even more now that the meat of the conference schedule begins tonight against Louisiana Tech (3-4) on ESPN2.

“We’ve been waiting for this part of our season for a while,” receiver Austin Pettis said. “The most important thing is playing for that WAC championship, and now we get to be able to play some pretty good teams here in the next couple of weeks.”

Pettis said he did not think going a month between playing a full game would affect the starters too much. Of course, there are no guarantees the starters will play the entire game against the Bulldogs, either.

“I know we still get a lot of that work in practice,” Pettis said. “We've got a great defense we go against -- that's like getting game reps. We have an experienced enough group to turn that switch on when we’re faced with a challenge against a better team and play a lot more.”

Louisiana Tech has been inconsistent this season, and that is mainly because it took them a while to settle on a starting quarterback.

Ross Jenkins started the season, got benched, and has returned to the starting lineup. He is looking a lot more comfortable and confident in the new spread offense coach Sonny Dykes has brought with him. In their last game against Idaho, Jenkins threw for 422 yards and three touchdowns. They have won two in a row with him as the starter.

“He’s a senior and he’s played a lot and he’s won a lot of games,” Dykes said. “To his credit, he didn’t get his head down. He continued to work hard, continued to learn the offense, to ask questions to be involved.”

If the Bulldogs throw it around as much as they did against Idaho, this could be a good test for the Broncos as they head toward their game against Hawaii on Nov. 6. The Broncos, of course, have to keep winning to have any shot at becoming the first team from outside a major conference to play for the national championship.

They should get some help in the computer average from the upcoming competition, but it is unknown how much of an impact that is going to have on their BCS ranking. Boise State has four teams left on its schedule with a winning record, including a game at No. 24 Nevada on Nov. 26.

The Broncos are in a race against TCU for that top non-AQ spot. While they are still ahead in the human polls, the computers like TCU better. The Horned Frogs have a big game at No. 8 Utah looming, so that could be a factor as well.

Boise State has maintained it does not look at the rankings. Coach Chris Petersen says he does not check to see where his team is, and will only care in December.

“The rankings and the polls have a lot of twists and turns that nobody can control,” Petersen said. “We’re not going to get too hung up on that type of stuff at Game 6 in the season.”

As for the way his team is playing, Petersen is always looking for improvement, but did acknowledge that his players have done a good job of staying focused. No matter the record of an opponent, no game is a gimme as we have seen throughout college football this season.

“Every coach in America knows the pitfalls of what they’re facing each week,” Petersen said. “It’s hard every week to come out with razor sharp focus and great energy. We still have a lot of the season left to play with many tough challenges. We’ll see how our team responds from here on out.”