By Chadd Cripe
© 2012 Idaho Statesman
The Boise State football team has played four bowl-bound teams this season. The offense has produced 45 points in those games — 11.25 per game — with a high of 20 against Fresno State.
Nevada, which is headed to the New Mexico Bowl, is the fifth bowl-bound foe on Saturday in Reno.
The Broncos have shown some high-scoring potential in the last month, but they have yet to do it against a good team.
“We need to be more consistent,” coach Chris Petersen said. “Again, there (that word) is. Yeah, you usually don’t play as well against the best teams. But do we need to play better? We do.”
The Broncos have scored a season-high 49 points and 42 points while emptying the bench early in their past two games, a sign of improvement. And they have scored at least 40 points in each of their past three road games.
But against their best opponents, they have failed to make key plays on offense. Petersen remembers that goal-line stand by BYU, the penalty that wiped out a touchdown against Fresno State and the missed opportunities in the red zone against Michigan State.
“The better teams will convert those,” he said. “That’s the bottom line. We’ve had some opportunities to do some things that we just haven’t capitalized on.”
The Broncos have improved to 49th in the nation in scoring offense with 30.7 points per game. They were 80th in mid-October.
“Everyone’s getting better,” junior quarterback Joe Southwick said. “That’s been the story of the offense. ... Film doesn’t lie. Each week, this offense has gotten better, and hopefully that continues.”
The Broncos might need a big offensive performance this week. Nevada is the only team in the country to score at least 30 points in every game this season.
“Obviously the defense has done a great job having our backs when we haven’t put up points,” senior tailback D.J. Harper said. “As the year has gone on, we’ve gotten better. Definitely this game we’re going to have to do some things on offense to help the defense out a little bit.”
Boise State senior defensive lineman Darren Koontz on facing Nevada: “The biggest thing that we’ve kind of been harping on all week is being physical. They’re a hard-nosed running team. … We need to stop them upfront as a D-line and we need to be able to move the ball as an O-line.”
Here are my weekly bowl projections. Many spots have been accepted already and most of the rest are either fairly easy picks or go to the winners of certain games this week.
New Mexico (MW vs. Pac-12), Dec. 15, Albuquerque: Nevada* vs. Arizona: If the Wildcats sneak into Vegas, this likely will be Arizona State.
Famous Idaho Potato (WAC vs. MAC), Dec. 15, Boise: Utah State* vs. Northern Illinois: Hopefully the strength of the Aggies will allow the Potato Bowl to attract one of the MAC’s top two teams.
Poinsettia (MW vs. BYU), Dec. 20, San Diego: San Diego State* vs. BYU*: The closest thing to Rocky Long’s funky defense is at BYU. Should be an interesting matchup.
MAACO (MW vs. Pac-12), Dec. 22, Las Vegas: Boise State vs. Washington: Huskies coach Steve Sarkisian said on the radio Friday that he expects to land in Vegas. Arizona is a possibility, but the Huskies’ brand and fan base make them attractive.
Hawaii (MW vs. C-USA), Dec. 24, Honolulu: Fresno State vs. SMU*: Fresno State gets the worst matchup of the Mountain West teams.
Armed Forces (MW vs. C-USA), Dec. 29, Fort Worth, Texas: Air Force* vs. Rice: If Tulsa loses the Conference USA title game, it will play here instead of Rice.
Rose (Pac-12 vs. Big Ten), Jan. 1, Pasadena, Calif.: Stanford vs. Nebraska: This is easy — winners of the Pac-12 and Big Ten title games.
Orange (ACC vs. BCS), Jan. 1, Miami: Florida State vs. Louisville: The winner of the ACC title game goes here. The opponent will be Louisville or a non-BCS team that automatically qualifies, like Kent State.
Sugar (SEC vs. BCS), Jan. 2, New Orleans: Florida vs. Oklahoma: The Gators are expected to get an automatic bid with the No. 3 ranking. The Sooners lose their spot if a non-BCS team qualifies.
Fiesta (Big 12 vs. BCS), Jan. 3, Glendale, Ariz.: Kansas State vs. Oregon: Once considered the likely championship game, this will be a popular Fiesta Bowl matchup. Kansas State needs a win or Oklahoma loss to clinch, though.
BCS National Championship Game (1 vs. 2), Jan. 7, Miami: Notre Dame vs. Alabama: The Irish are in. They’re waiting for the winner of the SEC championship game.
* indicates accepted bid
Titus Young is back at practice with the Lions, but his situation doesn’t sound good. One of the Lions’ offensive leaders had scathing words for him in this article.