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Cowboys hit blue turf to take on seventh-ranked Broncos

A battle for second place in the Mountain West ranked Boise State Broncos play host to the Wyoming Cowboys on the blue turf in Idaho.

The Broncos appeared destined to wreck the BCS party yet again this year, opening 2011 with an eight-game win streak, but back on November 12 the team was defeated by TCU, 36-35. Not only did the defeat knock Boise State from the ranks of the unbeaten, it also put the Horned Frogs on track to take yet another MWC crown.

Last weekend in their first-ever matchup against San Diego State, the Broncos took out some of their frustrations with a 52-35 win which wasn't nearly as close as the final score might indicate. At the half BSU was ahead by a score of 42-14 so really the game was well in hand the entire time even though the BSU defense bent a little too much in the final quarter.

"We took it as they (SDSU) are a second half team," Said Boise State's Kellen Moore after the win against the Aztecs. "You have to be prepared for that. They certainly played well in the second half. They scored more points than us in that time period. It's a unique defense. They do a good job. They have a lot of creative ideas. At the same time, they have great players."

As for the Cowboys, they too are already bowl eligible and are in the midst of a dream season that has rewarded the team's hard work with seven wins in 10 opportunities. Last week the Pokes closed out the home portion of their schedule as they took down New Mexico 31-10, for their second straight win and the fourth in the last five games in order to reach that key seventh win that now has the team thinking about the postseason.

"Since the day I got here, our goal was to have an opportunity to play in the postseason." Wyoming coach Dave Christensen said. "(And) of all the things we're playing for, we want those guys (seniors) who have been so dedicated since they got here to go out as winners in their last game in this stadium."

Last year Wyoming, which still has a game against San Diego State to play the first weekend in December, lost by a score of 51-6 in Laramie against BSU, which means the Pokes have yet to break through against the Broncos in five opportunities. The Cowboys have lost games by an average of 20 points per contest versus BSU over the years.

Quarterback Brett Smith again took control of the Wyoming offense last weekend as he converted 23-of-38 passes for 212 yards and a touchdown, adding two more scoring runs as he gained a game-high 140 yards on 12 carries as well for a team that logged 250 yards and three TDs on the ground.

"He just amazes me every time he plays," Christensen said of Smith's performance. "He's such a humble young man and great competitor. I can't wait to get him on a timer (for the 40-yard dash). He outran their secondary."

From a defensive standpoint, the Cowboys held UNM to only 162 yards through the air and another 134 yards on the ground which was more than enough effort to keep the Lobos from being truly competitive.

Considering he was thrown into the fire by his coaching staff, Smith has emerged almost unscathed by completing 60.7 percent of his pass attempts for 15 TDs and just five interceptions on 338 chances. Add to that his 5.1 yards per carry and team-best 10 TDs rushing and Smith could easily be in the running for top honors in the MWC this season.

Unfortunately, Smith and everyone else in the conference has to compare themselves to Moore over at Boise State and that's simply not fair given what the gunslinger has accomplished over the year. Last week against San Diego State Moore completed 28-of-40 passes for 366 yards and four touchdowns and an interception. Tyler Shoemaker was his favorite target down the field with 10 catches for 130 yards and three scores.

But once again Moore spread the wealth as he hit a total of 11 different receivers which means in every game this season there have been at least eight players who have caught a pass. If you were looking for a balanced passing attack you found it at Boise State.

Let's not forget that Doug Martin can be a bruising runner as well, as he showed against SDSU with his game-high 129 yards and two touchdowns. On the season Martin, who missed almost two complete games before returning against the Aztecs, has run for 885 yards and 11 touchdowns, his break-away speed forcing defenders to play close to the line of scrimmage which in turn opens up passing lanes for Moore.

Moore, who is now the winningest quarterback in FBS history with a record of 47-3 as a starter, has thrown multiple touchdown passes in 23 consecutive games and has tossed at least two TDs in 43 of his 50 career outings which is just unheard of these days. No matter how much opponents, like Wyoming, try to prepare for Moore he simply finds holes in the defense and exploits them with precision. In the running for countless postseason accolades yet again this year, Moore's success has been unparalleled, although the Boise State offensive line could stand some attention as well.

Through 10 games the guys up front have kept Moore standing tall while allowing just 0.70 sacks per game which is tops in the MWC and sixth in the nation and that has allowed the signal-caller to conduct the offense with very few mistakes. Second in the conference and tied for seventh in the nation this week, BSU has a plus-1.0 turnovers per game.