POSTED: 1:30 a.m. HST, Nov 8, 2010
BOISE, Idaho » Boise State's offense has never been as productive as it was Saturday, when the Broncos piled up a school record 732 total yards.
Throw in the fact Kellen Moore threw for a career-best 507 yards and three touchdowns and running back Jeremy Avery ran for three more, and it'd be easy to assume the 42-7 blowout over Hawaii was all about the Broncos' offensive firepower.
But it'd be a mistake to overlook Boise State's defense, which may have turned in its finest performance of the season.
The Broncos (8-0, 4-0, WAC) shut down the Warriors' explosive passing game, had a season-best seven sacks and held Hawaii to its lowest offensive output since 1998.
"I certainly didn't think that would happen going into it," said coach Chris Petersen, whose team has now won 22 straight, the longest active streak in major college football. "I know this though: Our guys were ready to play."
There was little doubt about that.
The defense came with pressure and blitzes early, sacking Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz, the nation's leading passer coming into the game, twice in the first half. Then they put Moniz on the ground five times in Hawaii's first three possessions of the second half to keep an offense averaging 39 points this season from getting into any kind of rhythm.
The pressure forced Hawaii and its run-and-shoot to adjust to shorter routes, which were blanketed by the Broncos secondary. Receiver Greg Salas, who was second in the nation in receptions, had just two catches.
Moniz finished 17-for-28 for 127 yards, and Hawaii managed only 196 yards, 295 below its season average. Its only touchdown came on a 54-yard run by Alex Green in the final minutes.
"It felt good, that an offense of that caliber, you could shut them out all the way into the fourth quarter," said Broncos safety George Iloka, who led the team with five tackles. "I felt like we did a pretty good job out there. Hopefully we silenced the critics for one more week."
Critics are one thing, poll voters are another.
The Broncos dropped two spots to No. 4 yesterday. The Broncos were leapfrogged by Auburn and TCU, which overwhelmed a Utah team that had been No. 6 in the Associated Press poll and drew some of the backing voters had been giving Boise State.
The Broncos still have time to make up ground, but will need some help along the way.
Boise State plays in-state rival Idaho on the road Friday, then hosts Fresno State before traveling to No. 21 Nevada on Nov. 26. The Broncos close out their season at home Dec. 4 against Utah State.
Top-ranked Oregon has Cal, Arizona and rival Oregon State left on its schedule, and Auburn faces a tough matchup at Alabama on Nov. 26. TCU has two games remaining, against San Diego State and New Mexico.
For Petersen, all the chatter about polls and computer rankings has always been a distraction, and barring a letdown that's not likely to change heading into the season's final month.
"The common question we get around here is, 'Can you continue playing like this?' We know that," he said. "But it's easier said than done. This is the big month that we've been talking about."