Boise State Preview

Louisiana Tech has stumbled just once in this young season, but it was on the road and against a ranked team.

Same as this week.

Tech (2-1, with a 29-0 loss to then No. 14 Kansas on Sept. 6) travels to No. 17 Boise State for an ESPN game tonight on the blue turf.

"We've never beat Boise at Boise," said second-year coach Derek Dooley, losers of six straight against the Broncos. "They certainly deserve the attention and notoriety they have gotten."

Tech's not alone in its struggles at Boise, winners of 15 in a row on the way to the nation's best home record since 2003 -- 34-1.

"Like all championship teams," Dooley said, "they are good at everything. They have very little weaknesses. It's going to be a challenge for our team."

Like Dooley's Bulldogs, who offed Mississippi State in its 2008 opener, Boise comes into the game boasting a win over a BCS opponent. The Broncos upset then-No. 17 Oregon 37-32, and proceeded to take over that spot in the national rankings.

Looks like, as its has for most of the last decade, Boise State is the team to beat in the Western Athletic Conference. The Broncos are 52-4 in league play since joining.

"I think everybody in the league would be happy if their program had the success that Boise has had," Dooley said. "If you want to win a championship, you have to go toe-to-toe with a champion. You've got to be able to go up to Boise and compete with Boise."

That won't be easy -- though, like Tech, the Broncos have already endured a bye week and then a few extra days of cooling their heels waiting for this unusual Wednesday night TV matchup.

"We are just anxious to play; it seems like it's been a while since we played," said Boise State coach Chris Peterson. The Bulldogs "are always a team that poses a lot of problems for us. We always seem to have good games with those guys."

Lefty quarterback Kellen Moore is off to the best three-game start by a Boise State quarterback in the WAC era, throwing for 840 yards and five touchdowns. More impressive, considering Tech's troubles in the passing game, has been Moore's accuracy: He has hit on 72 percent of his passes, tossing just one pick in 2008.

That puts a spotlight on an aggressive Bulldogs defense that does a good job of getting after the passer, but sometimes leaves its secondary on an island: Tech has allowed an average of 348 yards passing.

Meanwhile Boise's defense -- led by cornerback Kyle Wilson, who has started 21 straight games -- has eight takeaways and 28 tackles for loss (including eight sacks) this season.

Tech quarterback Taylor Bennett, who committed briefly to play at Boise, is still rounding into shape since transferring from Georgia Tech just before the season began. His passer efficiency of 83 is last in the league.

Moore is seventh in the nation in pass efficiency at 179.82. One of his top targets, junior Jeremy Childs, who made a pair of highlight-reel grabs covering 41 and 35 yards against Oregon.

Still, Tech was competitive against Boise a year ago in Ruston before falling 45-31. Dooley is focusing on building momentum from that effort. A season before, after all, Tech lost 55-14 at Boise as it marched on to victory over Oklahoma in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl.

This game is the Western Athletic Conference opener for both teams.

"The preseason is over," Dooley said. "You look ahead at the WAC now. We are opening up with the team that obviously been the dominant program in the WAC over five to seven years. It's a barometer of where you stand."

Louisiana Tech at Boise State

Kickoff: 7 p.m., ESPN

Radio: KXKZ 107.5 FM

Gametracker: latechsports.com

Notes: Boise, which has beaten Tech over its last three home games 49-13, is favored by 22 points. … Tech last won at Bronco Stadium in 1997, four years before joining the WAC. … Celebrated senior Boise running back Ian Johnson has yet to notch a 100-yard rushing performance this season. He rushed for 1,713 yards and 25 touchdowns in the Broncos' unbeaten '06 campaign.


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