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CHRIS DUFRESNE / ON COLLEGE FOOTBALL

With a big win, Boise State makes a small gain

Still No. 4 in the BCS, Broncos pick up ground on TCU, which struggled against San Diego State. And Oregon and Auburn don't look like sure things.

November 14, 2010|Chris Dufresne

Boise State dominated Friday, ended up winning the weekend and still has a chance to ransack the entire season.

The question: Can the Broncos maintain momentum moving toward December?

The school that lost ground in last week's Bowl Championships Series standings despite a 35-point home win over Hawaii reversed engines with the most impressive performance among the four undefeated teams — a thorough sandblasting at Idaho.

You wouldn't know it was Boise State's day based on the release of the latest BCS standings, in which the top-10 order did not change.

Oregon, Auburn, Texas Christian and Boise State remained in positions one through four, but the big news was Boise's cutting Texas Christian's points lead in half.

The key to Sunday, and maybe the season, was both BCS polls — USA Today and Harris — moving Boise State back ahead of TCU.

This wasn't supposed to happen. ESPN's BCS expert Brad Edwards said last week that TCU was basically homesteaded at No. 3 after the Horned Frogs routed undefeated Utah.

The funny thing about the BCS, though, is how many times you have to take back things you say.

A week later, TCU struggled at home against San Diego State on the same day Utah went south in South Bend against Notre Dame.

The team from Salt Lake City that was No. 5 in the BCS two weeks ago is now No. 23 on its way down the fireman's pole.

Boise State got its strut back with a nearly flawless 52-14 win at Idaho. The Broncos led 28-0 after the first quarter and could have gone Wisconsin (83 points) on Idaho had Coach Chris Petersen not throttled back after taking a 45-0 edge with 14:05 left in the third quarter.

You know what they say about quarterback Kellen Moore's competitive drive — he plays all three quarters.

Moore went to the bench early again against Idaho and, in fact, has logged about as many fourth-quarter minutes as Boise's water boy.

Boise State stood out on a weekend when the three other undefeated teams — Oregon, Auburn, TCU — all struggled by comparison.

Only a fool would say it now seems safe to say that, if Boise State wins its last three games, it will earn no worse than a trip to the Rose Bowl.

But you can bet some expert out there will say it.

Boise State and TCU are hopelessly — but not really unjustly — boxed out of the BCS title game if Oregon and Auburn win out.

These are the top two teams from the top two conferences, according to Jeff Sagarin's power rankings this week. The Western Athletic and Mountain West conferences are ranked eighth and ninth.

If the Rose Bowl ends up losing Oregon to the title game, the BCS bakeoff winner between Boise State and TCU should be headed to Pasadena — but don't buy tickets yet.

Boise State's advantage is having three more games to impress the voters and computers, including a Nov. 26 showdown at BCS No. 18 Nevada.

TCU's problem is having one game remaining, at lowly New Mexico (1-9), which ranks No. 116 in offense and No. 118 on defense.

Oregon defeated New Mexico this year, 72-0, and it wasn't that close.

It appears TCU, to have a chance, needs Boise to stumble — but no writer worth his weight would ever put that on record.

If Boise State can beat Fresno State in Idaho this Friday, the Nov. 26 game at Nevada becomes, potentially, the biggest game in school history.

If Alabama has already defeated Auburn in Tuscaloosa earlier that day, Boise State could kick off against Nevada with a BCS title-game berth at stake.

Boise State, for the record, closes the season Dec. 4 at home against Utah State, but the chances of losing are about as likely as Virginia Tech losing at home to James Madison … oh, wait.

TCU needs Oregon and Auburn to lose, which is not beyond the realm of possibility considering Ducks star running back LaMichael James left Berkeley in a walking boot.

Oregon hosts Arizona on Nov. 26 and closes at Oregon State on Dec. 4. Auburn, even it gets past Alabama, faces a tough test against South Carolina in the SEC title game.

Bottom line on this year's trophy: Nobody should call the engraver yet.

Weekend Wrap

--Oregon's 15-13 win over California caused the Ducks' national scoring average lead to drop from 54.67 points per game to 50.57. Oregon still ranks first ahead of No. 2 Boise State at 47.56.

--How the Big Four stack up: Oregon is No. 2 in total offense and No. 20 on defense. Auburn is No. 6 in offense and No. 51 on defense. Boise State is No. 4 on offense and No. 3 on defense. Texas Christian is No. 8 on offense and No. 1 on defense.

--Wisconsin's 83 points against Indiana on Saturday were more points that the Badgers' basketball team scored in 30 of 34 games last year. Coach Bret Bielema insisted after Saturday's game he was not trying to run up the score. "I don't think Wisconsin will ever get accused of trying to be sexy or get style points," he said.

The 83 points were the most by a ranked team since Houston beat Southern Methodist, 95-21, in 1989.

--Northwestern and Illinois are playing next week at Chicago's Wrigley Field, the first college football game to be played at the baseball park since 1938. Or, 30 years after the Cubs last won the World Series.

--We salute you: The three service academy schools are all bowl-eligible: Army (6-4), Navy (7-3) and Air Force (7-4).

--The top two teams in Sagarin's BCS rankings this week are Auburn and Oregon. His No. 3 team is…Stanford. In Sagarin's non-BCS standings that consider margin of victory, Oregon and Stanford are 1-2.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

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