7:45 PM ET, November 27, 2004
Mackay Stadium, RENO, NV
RENO, Nev. (AP) -- Boise State coach Dan Hawkins figures his 10th-ranked and undefeated Broncos have done everything they can to make a case for a spot in the Bowl Championship Series.
"Unfortunately, there is a lot of politics. I'm not a great politician but our play speaks for itself," Hawkins said after his team beat Nevada 58-21 Saturday night for their 22nd straight victory.
Jared Zabransky passed for 244 yards and three touchdowns for Boise State (11-0, 8-0 in the Western Athletic Conference), which has won 35 of its last 36 games.
The Broncos have a chance to play in the BCS if California loses Dec. 4 to Southern Mississippi but otherwise are headed to the Liberty Bowl on Dec. 31 to face No. 7 Louisville in Memphis, Tenn.
"We've always wanted to play the best team we can and play in the best bowl we can. We'll see how things shake out," Hawkins said.
"We controlled the things we can control. There are not a lot of undefeated teams still out there," he said.
Safety Cam Hall returned one interception 52 yards for a touchdown and another 64 yards to set up a late score for Boise State, which claimed its third consecutive WAC title with its record 26th straight league win, dating to 2001.
"That is huge because you know everyone's bringing their 'A' game when they play Boise State," Hawkins said.
Jeff Rowe passed for 245 yards and a touchdown for Nevada (5-7, 3-5), which suffered its first loss at home this year and hasn't had a winning season since 1998.
T.J. Acree caught six passes for 105 yards, including an 11-yard touchdown. Zabransky completed 17-of-25 passes. Jon Hellmandollar scored on runs of 5 and 4 yards and Lee Marks rushed for 93 yards on 15 carries for the Broncos, whose winning streak is the best in Division I-A.
"That is one fine football time," Nevada Coach Chris Ault said. "They are certainly deserving of all the accolades. Any time you go undefeated, this is a very special team."
Ault was most impressed with the Broncos' run defense, which held Nevada to 70 yards rushing.
"In my opinion, that is where their strength is," he said.
Broncos backup quarterback Legedu Naanee took the snap on a fake punt at midfield and ran 34 yards to set up Zabransky's 15-yard TD pass to Jason Murray 33 seconds before the half for a 28-7 halftime lead.
Rowe threw a 10-yard TD pass to Adam Bishop to pull to within 28-14 early in the third quarter. But Zabransky passed 43 yards to Acree to set up Helmandollar's first score and put the Broncos up 35-14 in the third quarter. Ninety seconds later, Hall scored on the interception return.
Boise State fans made up more than half of the crowd of 10,151 at Mackay Stadium, where snowplows were still on the field an hour before the game clearing nearly a foot of snow that temporarily closed Reno-Tahoe International Airport.
Austin Smith returned four punts for 75 yards, including one for 31 yards to set up Boise State's first touchdown on Zabransky's 25-yard pass to Lawrence Bady.
Rashaun Scott recovered Zach Walker's fumble on the ensuing kickoff and three plays later Zabransky hit Acree for an 11-yard score to take a 14-0 lead. Jeff Carpenter scored on a 5-yard run to make it 21-0 for the highest scoring team in the country.
Nevada cut the lead to 21-7 when Nick Hawthorne returned an interception 40 yards for a touchdown 4:58 before the half.
Boise State's WAC winning streak broke the old record of 25 in a row by BYU from 1982-85.
"It's like getting over that hump," Zabransky said.
"We've worked so hard in the summers and offseason. This is for the guys that played with us in previous seasons and had those one-loss seasons," he said.
"Whatever bowl we are in, we will be happy with it. If it winds up in Memphis against Louisville, they are a very good team and athletic."
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||7-14||7-17|
|4th Down Conversions||1-1||1-1|
|TD||5:16||LAWRENCE BADY 25 YD PASS FROM JARED ZABRANSKY (TYLER JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 1 plays, 25 yards.
|TD||4:26||T.J. ACREE 11 YD PASS FROM JARED ZABRANSKY (TYLER JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 3 plays, 32 yards.
|TD||10:57||JEFF CARPENTER 5 YD RUN (TYLER JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 9 plays, 80 yards.
|TD||4:51||NICK HAWTHRONE 40 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (DAMON FINE KICK)||21||7|
|TD||0:33||JASON MURRAY 15 YD PASS FROM JARED ZABRANSKY (TYLER JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 11 plays, 73 yards.
|TD||12:38||ADAM BISHOP 10 YD PASS FROM JEFF ROWE (DAMON FINE KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 75 yards.
|TD||8:42||JON HELMANDOLLAR 5 YD RUN (TYLER JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 2 plays, 48 yards.
|TD||7:08||CAM HALL 52 YD INTERCEPTION RETURN (TYLER JONES KICK)||42||14|
|FG||4:18||TYLER JONES 26 YD FG|
Drive info: 6 plays, 45 yards.
|FG||0:50||TYLER JONES 20 YD FG|
Drive info: 4 plays, 5 yards.
|TD||11:42||JON HELMANDOLLAR 4 YD RUN (TYLER JONES KICK)|
Drive info: 7 plays, 68 yards.
|FG||5:55||TYLER JONES 32 YD FG|
Drive info: 8 plays, 54 yards.
|TD||2:32||TALIB WISE 5 YD RUN (DAMON FINE KICK)|
Drive info: 8 plays, 76 yards.