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HomeSportsBGSU
Published: Tuesday, 9/20/2005

Winless Boise had high hopes

BY MAUREEN FULTON
BLADE SPORTS WRITER

Considering Boise State is in its ninth year of Division I-A football, it might surprise some that the Broncos' pre-season goal was a national title.

The team's reasoning fit, though. The Broncos had won the Western Athletic Conference for three consecutive years and went undefeated in the 2004 regular season. They needed a new goal, and if they could get through their difficult non-conference schedule, the stage might have been set to send the Broncos to the BCS,

a la Utah a year ago.

"We openly talk about winning the national championship," Daryn Colledge, the Broncos' All-WAC offensive lineman, told the Washington Post last month.

It took 30 minutes into the season for that goal to vanish. On the road in its season opener against Georgia, Boise State was down 24-0 at the half en route to a 48-13 loss. The Broncos' star, quarterback Jared Zabransky, was benched just before halftime after committing six turnovers.

After a Week 2 loss at Oregon State, Boise State has lost three games in a row dating back to their Liberty Bowl loss to Louisville last season. The Broncos, who had started the season ranked in the AP Top 25 for the first time in school history, are looking for their first win of the season in tomorrow's game against Bowling Green State University at 8 p.m. at Bronco Stadium.

Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said although the team is disappointed, it has gotten over the defeats and is poised to extend its 25-game home winning streak, the longest current streak in the country.

"We try not to get caught up in the highs and lows of what's going on out there, whether it's good or bad," Hawkins said. "This crew hasn't seen a lot of bad, they've seen mostly good, but I think we try to focus on the things we can control each week and getting better and not really necessarily what the score was or who you're playing. I think the guys have been fine."

Against Oregon State, the Broncos led early in the second half but lost the game on a late field goal. Zabransky, a junior whose Heisman hopes became a preseason gaffe, recovered from his Georgia meltdown, completing 19 of 36 passes for 233 yards and three touchdowns.

"[Zabransky's] still not at the top of his game by any means, and he'd be the first one to say that," Hawkins said. "I think too many times in life everybody wants to jump on one side or the other and make that the prevailing opinion. It's a lot better to hang in the middle, keep a little perspective. We do that here and he has as well."

The Falcons said they realize although Boise State is winless, the team has 16 returning starters from the squad that finished 11-1 a year ago and Bronco Stadium's blue turf has been a force field against wins for visiting teams.

"They are a little wounded right now," BGSU coach Gregg Brandon said. "Going into their place, their first home game, is not going to be easy."

POPE TO PLAY: Brandon said last night during his weekly radio show broadcast on 1230 that running back P.J. Pope will play tomorrow night. Pope, a 1,000-yard rusher in each of the past two seasons, missed the Ball State game after spraining his ankles in the Wisconsin game. "P.J.'s ready to go," Brandon said. "I hope he's at full strength."

Contact Maureen Fulton at:

mfulton@theblade.com

or 419-724-6160.


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