No. 21 Boise State and Wyoming come together Saturday as programs heading in opposite directions.
The Broncos (6-1, 3-0 Mountain West) are steadily rising in the polls after six straight wins, while the Cowboys (1-6, 0-3) are reeling from three straight losses and the suspension of head coach Dave Christensen.
Wyoming fined Christensen $50,000 and suspended him this week for his conduct after a 28-27 loss to Air Force on Oct. 13.
Christensen confronted Falcons coach Troy Calhoun on the field, accusing the Falcons of faking an injury to their starting quarterback in the fourth quarter so they could set up the next play without taking a time out. Air Force took the lead on the next play when backup quarterback Kale Pearson scored on a bootleg.
Assistant head coach Pete Kaligis , who replaced Christensen this week for the Boise State game, said the team is handling the situation well.
"These guys, they came here to play football and when it comes down to playing the game you can't focus on the distractions on the outside," he said. "When it comes down to game planning and that aspect nothing will change."
Wyoming had high expectations at the start of the season but the loss of starting quarterback Brett Smith for two games and part of another because of concussions and a defense giving up an average of 33.9 points per game have left the Cowboys' season in dire straits.
Boise State, on the other hand, has won every game since losing its season opener to Michigan State.
The Broncos are riding a defense that is ranked among the top 10 against the pass (158 yards per game) and points allowed (13.5). It has held opponents scoreless in the first half in each of the last five games.
Offensively, Broncos coach Chris Petersen says he's seeing steady improvement from the unit and quarterback Joe Southwick. After scoring no more than 13 points in any of its first three games, Boise State has averaged 31 points in the four games since and is now averaging 26.1 points per game for the season.
"I think we're making strides on offense," Petersen said. "Obviously not where we want to be or need to be, but I think the most important thing is we are progressing."
Petersen said the suspension of Christensen shouldn't make much of a difference because Wyoming's coordinators, position coaches and other staff are all involved in planning every game, not just the head coach.
"It hasn't changed our preparations," he said.