Fresno State has high praise for Boise State
Coach Pat Hill has faced his share of powerhouses in his 15 years as Fresno State's coach.
The Bulldogs have faced a defending national champion, a pair of No. 1-ranked teams and other squads that ended their seasons in the biggest bowls and near the top of the rankings.
As good as those teams from Southern California, Oklahoma, LSU, Tennessee or Colorado might have been, Hill believes the Boise State team that Fresno State (2-3) takes on Friday night is as good or better than all of them.
''You can talk about NFL prospects or five stars or four stars, all I know is when it comes to playing football, Boise State can play football with anybody,'' Hill said. ''We've played some great teams here. This is as good a football team as anybody we've played - team. I'm not saying individuals. But they take great pride in being a great team. They've got some great players too, but they play like a team as well as anybody I've ever watched.''
Led by coolly efficient senior quarterback Kellen Moore, running back Doug Martin and a defense that almost always gets overlooked because of the Broncos' high-powered, entertaining offense, No. 5 Boise State (4-0) will be the highest-ranked team ever to visit Bulldog Stadium.
The Broncos were ranked even higher last year at No. 3 when Fresno State visited Boise and backed that up with a 51-0 victory. They have outscored the Bulldogs 163-44 the past three years in a rivalry that is decidedly one-sided.
''They're perfect,'' said senior linebacker Kyle Knox, who played in those three lopsided losses. ''They make no mistakes. Every one of their players knows where they have to be when they have to be. Kellen Moore is excellent at delivering the ball, good at recognizing defenses and gets rid of the ball quickly. They're an all-around great team.''
The Bulldogs defense has had trouble stopping big plays so far this season, which are a staple of Boise State's offense.
Fresno State allowed 307 of Mississippi's 430 yards on just eight plays in last week's 38-28 loss and then gave up a 100-yard kickoff return and a 46-yard touchdown run immediately after scoring to make it close in the fourth quarter last month against Nebraska.
Now the Bulldogs have to deal with Moore and Boise State's diverse offense.
''Their big plays are a little bit different than the big plays of an Ole Miss or Nebraska when they have an individual athlete that can beat you athletically,'' Hill said. ''This team can beat you with big plays by design or misalignment. Their offense is more scheme oriented.''
After being conference rivals the past 10 seasons, this year's meeting is a nonconference game. Boise State left the WAC after last season to join the Mountain West. Fresno State will follow next year and the schools wanted to make sure to keep each other on the schedule during the transition this year.
The Broncos won nine of the 10 meetings when the schools were in the WAC, starting with an upset of then-No. 8 Fresno State in 2001 that set the tone for the rivalry.
''From day one when we came into the WAC way back when, Fresno has always been that team,'' said Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who was offensive coordinator in 2001. ''We have tremendous respect for them. It's been a fun series for the fans and the rivalry.''
The quarterback for that 35-30 loss by Fresno State that ended the Bulldogs' hopes of being the first non-BCS school to crash one of the big bowls was David Carr. His younger brother, Derek, is at the helm now and wants to take Fresno State further than his brother could.
With three losses already, that won't happen this season. But a win over the Broncos would be quite a highlight for his first season as starter. Carr is off to a strong start, completing 61.2 percent of his passes for 258.2 yards per game, 10 touchdowns and four interceptions.
''He's pretty composed,'' Boise State defensive lineman Chase Baker said. ''You see that a lot of teams have sent a lot of blitzes at him and he stands in there, and gets the ball out quick. I think those are signs of a veteran quarterback for a guy at a young age.''
Carr will have a tough time doing that this week against a Broncos team that has allowed just one touchdown pass all season when the deficit has been less than 20 points.
While Carr played well on the road against Nebraska and their hyped Blackshirts defense, this test figures to be even harder.
''This will be the best defensive team we'll face,'' Hill said. ''A great strength that sometimes gets overlooked by a lot of people is the way they play defense. It's fun to watch them on film because they play so hard and so sound. You really have to earn your yards.''
Associated Press writer Todd Dvorak in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.