BOISE, Idaho – Boise State coach Chris Petersen says it's up to his team to answer any lingering questions about whether the Broncos are good enough to be ranked No. 3 in the country.
"For all that stuff, we just need to play more football," Petersen said Monday. "People will know what they have, whether this is really a good team."
The Broncos (1-0), who were idle this past weekend, were riding high after a Sept. 6 victory over Virginia Tech.
Then, the Hokies lost Saturday to second-tier James Madison.
So when the new AP Top 25 came out, Virginia Tech suddenly didn't seem like that big of a prize; Boise State held its rank but lost all but one of eight first-place votes from a week earlier.
That's prompted the question that Petersen, with a career 50-4 record, now expects but still won't answer: Is Boise State, from an obscure little burg in the southern Idaho desert, really of the caliber to be ranked behind No. 1 Alabama and No. 2 Ohio State.
This kind of conjecture has become a popular parlor game for observers of the Broncos, who as members of the Western Athletic Conference — they'll be moving to the Mountain West Conference in 2011 — are now semi-regular BCS crashers, having won two Fiesta Bowls, over Oklahoma in 2007 and TCU last January.
Respect, it seems, is still hard to come by.
Some contend Boise State, with now the second-longest winning streak in the country after Alabama at 15 games, is held to a different standard in the polls.
Again, Petersen isn't saying what he really thinks, if he thinks about it at all.
"Good try," he told a reporter who asked. "So much of this is just noise that can go away so fast. It's so much conversation for no reason. Now, if you're talking about us at the end of the year, then things are probably earned and deserved."
The Broncos get another shot at convincing doubters Saturday at Wyoming.
Wyoming (1-1) is coming off a 34-7 loss to No. 6 Texas.
But Boise State has recently faced tough games against the Cowboys, including a 24-14 win in 2007 in Boise and a 17-10 squeaker in 2006 at Laramie, which at 7,165 feet above sea level is so high that Petersen jokes about building a mountain inside his indoor practice facility just to get his players acclimated to the elevation.
Petersen said the Broncos' practices this week may be a little shorter, in advance of the game.
But he's pleased with their intensity.
He knows his players hear the talk of a Boise State national championship should the team go unbeaten again; it's his job to keep them from getting caught up in the hype.
"I don't necessarily think it's one of those situations where they're not going to try as hard," he said. "I think in some ways, they're going to try too hard, that they'll try to live up to these unrealistic expectations. That's what a lot of this is, unrealistic expectations."
Petersen was also happy to have had an extra week to prepare, in hopes of making sure Wyoming doesn't become his team's James Madison.
The Dukes, from the Football Championship Subdivision, scored the young college season's biggest upset so far with their 21-16 win over Virginia Tech. The Hokies only had four days to prepare, after their 33-30 loss to Boise State in Landover, Md., to open the season.
Asked if the Broncos could have been ready to play again so quickly, Peterson said he's just glad he didn't have to find out after seeing Virginia Tech fall on a fourth-quarter touchdown.
"You see that, you just kind of shake your head and smile," Petersen said. "That's college football. It can happen to anyone, I don't care how good you are, what your ranking is, what league you come from. That's college football, and if you not ready to play, you're going to get beat."