BOISE, Idaho -- It took just one play for Boise State (No. 11 BCS, No. 9 AP) linebacker Derrell Acrey to help erase all the pain and misery from the meltdown against Nevada that dashed the Broncos' BCS dreams a week ago.
On the first play from scrimmage Saturday, Acrey stepped in front of a pass by Utah State quarterback Diondre Borel and returned the pick 31 yards for a touchdown.
So much for any doubts about the Broncos' ability to pick themselves up from a crushing defeat.
Minutes later, quarterback Kellen Moore started sealing the deal, firing the first of his three touchdowns in guiding the Broncos to a 50-14 victory in their Western Athletic Conference farewell.
"That's exactly what we needed to happen for us," said coach Chris Petersen. "We were asking 'How are we going to respond?' I'd say they responded well."
The victory gave Boise State (11-1, 7-1) a share of the conference title and put an exclamation point on a decade of dominance in the WAC. This year's title is the Broncos' eighth since joining the WAC in 2001, but they are co-champs this time with Hawaii, which had already laid its claim, and Nevada, which moved into a three-way tie atop the conference with its 35-17 win over Louisiana Tech on Saturday.
It also set the Broncos up for a postseason trip to either the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas for a showdown against No. 21 Utah or a trip to the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco. School officials did not anticipate a bowl announcement Saturday night.
Minor bowls aren't the postseason stages the Broncos were dreaming of two weeks ago, when they were ranked No. 3 and poised to surpass TCU in the BCS rankings. While the Nevada loss spoiled those hopes and snapped a 24-game winning streak, the Broncos showed Saturday that moping about their missed opportunity wasn't part of the equation.
"It's all about rebounding in this game and coming off a bad loss and proving that we can keep this thing rolling," Moore said. "Obviously, it was frustrating and disappointing. But we're not going to stay down forever."
As he has been much of the season, Moore was efficient and mistake-free, going 24 of 34 for 237 yards and leading an offense that rolled up 453 total yards. His three TD passes gave him 33 for the season to go with just five interceptions. He ended his day with a 1-yard dive late in the third quarter to put Boise State up 43-7.
Jeremy Avery ran for 71 yards and a touchdown and the Broncos rushed for 202 yards. Kyle Efaw led the Bronco receiving corps with five catches for 76 yards and two touchdowns, and Austin Pettis had four catches for 51 yards and a TD. Efaw's first came on the Broncos' opening possession when Moore fired a 12-yard strike. A 2-point conversion gave the Broncos a 15-0 lead just seven minutes into the game.
Then a Boise State defense which was gouged by Nevada last week in the second half of its 34-31 overtime loss, held up its end of the bargain. The Broncos notched four sacks, two interceptions and held Borel to a season-low 41 yards passing.
For the Aggies (4-8, 2-6), the loss was the tenth straight against the Broncos and foiled their bid to improve from the same season record a year ago. They made a run early, pulling within 15-7 in the first quarter when Kerwynn Williams found a seam on fourth-and 1 and dashed 40 yards for a touchdown.
The Aggies rushed for 250 yards, but their inability to move the ball through the air undermined any chance of keeping up with the quick-starting Broncos.
"When you're playing Boise, or any very, very good football team, it doesn't take a rocket scientist to figure out you can't go down 15-0, especially the way we did," said coach Gary Anderson. "We fought and continued to battle, but we didn't execute on third down on offense. It's great to rush the ball for 250 yards ... but at the end of the day you have to have some sort of balance."
One Aggie bright spot was Williams, who rushed for 147 yards and a score. Williams also set a new FBS single-season record for kick return yards in the season finale. His 17-yard return in the third quarter gave him 1,421 return yards for the year, breaking the previous mark of 1,410 yards set earlier this season by Taveon Rogers of New Mexico State.
The Broncos are leaving the WAC and heading to the Mountain West next fall, and for teams like Utah State it may be good riddance. The Broncos leave the conference with a perfect 40-0 mark against league foes on their home blue turf and an overall record of 75-5.
The game was also the final one at home for 18 Bronco seniors, including stars like Pettis and receiver Titus Young, and defensive stalwarts like Ryan Winterswyk, safety Jeron Johnson and Acrey.
"The [Nevada] loss was devastating and the weekend was a long weekend," Acrey said. "But once we got back out on the field, we looked back at our goals on the pyramid and we still had to win a WAC championship and protect" our perfect record at home.
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