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October 30, 2011
Boise State is right where it hoped to be as it reaches its midseason bye week-7-0, ranked No. 5 in the polls and in control of its destiny in the Mountain West title race.
If the Broncos are disappointed in anything it's the injuries, many of which should get a chance to heal this week. The Broncos have started backups at six positions already this season and taken some hits to their depth.
"It's a good time to get rehab in if you've gotten nicked up," left tackle Nate Potter said.
The Broncos have one of their easiest games of the season on the other side of the bye-a game at woeful UNLV, where the crowd will include thousands of Boise State fans.
They likely will need to dominate their final five games to garner enough voter support to reach the BCS National Championship Game if the undefeated teams ahead of them lose.
They also get a chance to make a statement Nov. 12 against TCU, which has two losses but both in nail-biters.
• Quarterback Kellen Moore picked up his 45th career win against Air Force, tying Colt McCoy for the Football Bowl Subdivision record. Moore can break the mark Nov. 5 at UNLV. He only has two losses.
• Boise State has won 35 straight home games. With Oklahoma's loss, the Broncos now have the longest home winning streak in the nation.
• The Broncos have played at least one game without the starter at center, right guard, left guard, fullback, nose tackle, field cornerback and strong safety. They also missed key contributors Geraldo Boldewijn (wide receiver) for four games and Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe (defensive tackle) for six games because of impermissible benefits obtained from their host families.
Bye Week Mission: The Broncos need to get healthy. The team is playing well going into the midseason bye and there aren't any pressing issues, other than the season-long troubles with PATs and field goals. But the Broncos are beat up, particularly on the offensive and defensive lines, and could use some rest. They also could use the bye to get some young players more involved, including true freshmen Lee Hightower (defensive back) and Corey Bell (nickel), who have only played in two games.
Looking Ahead: The Broncos have five regular-season games left-two of the most difficult contests on the schedule, the two easiest games on the schedule and Wyoming. They return from the bye Nov. 5 at UNLV. The next two weeks will be the key to their Bowl Championship Series hopes-Nov. 12 vs. TCU in Boise and Nov. 19 at San Diego State. The final two games are against Wyoming and New Mexico on the blue turf.
STRATEGY AND PERSONNEL
Scouting The Offense: After a choppy start, the Broncos have found the balance they seek on offense. They're 13th in passing (304.9 yards per game) and 36th in rushing (183.1). Tailback Doug Martin has rushed for at least 100 yards in three of the past four games and quarterback Kellen Moore has thrown at least two touchdown passes in 20 straight games. Moore ranks fourth in the nation in pass efficiency at 180.72 and Martin is 18th in rushing at 106.7 yards per game.
Scouting The Defense: The Broncos actually played fairly well against Air Force. They held the Falcons about 100 yards below their average, but their inability to get off the field on third down - a strength coming into the game-got them in trouble. Coaches likely won't put much stock in that game because they won't face that type of offense again anytime soon. The defense still ranks 14th in the nation at 300.6 yards per game and 11th at 16.1 points per game.
• True freshman tailback Jay Ajayi, who was expected to redshirt, tore an anterior cruciate ligament in practice.
• Senior starting defensive tackle Chase Baker missed his second straight game (vs. Air Force) with a calf strain but is expected back soon.
• Senior center Thomas Byrd (knees) didn't start against Air Force but played for the second straight game. His workload will increase as his troublesome knees improve.
• Junior left guard Joe Kellogg (knee) returned to the starting lineup against Air Force after missing a game.