Brian Murphy hands out the grades for Boise States 32-7 victory over UNLV
The offense took another small step forward with a solid but not spectacular performance. Quarterback Joe Southwick was efficient (22-of-29 for 243 yards with one interception). Southwick looks sharper each week and the situation behind him looks shaky. Backup Grant Hedrick lost two fumbles in limited duty and third-stringer Jimmy Laughrea was not in uniform. Running backs D.J. Harper (59 yards, two touchdowns) and Jay Ajayi (37 yards, one touchdown) averaged 4.8 yards per attempt. Nine different receivers caught passes. Dallas Burroughs had a nice catch on a deep ball, hauling in a 47-yard pass to set up a touchdown. The Broncos, who have averaged more than 41 points per game since 2000, have not reached that total this year and many are looking for the offense to break out on the scoreboard. Grade: B
The defense just keeps getting it done. Even without defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, the team leader in sacks and tackles for loss, the Broncos limited UNLV to 210 yards of total offense, forced three turnovers and did not allow a point. Cornerbacks Jamar Taylor (career-high nine tackles, one sack, two forced fumbles) and Jerrell Gavins (interception, fumble return for a touchdown) were outstanding. The defense battered UNLV QB Nick Sherry, limiting him to 71 passing yards. Boise State is in the top 10 nationally in pass efficiency defense, scoring defense, pass defense and turnover margin. Grade: A
Kicker Michael Frisina is 9-of-9 from 30 yards or less and 0-for-5 on kicks from beyond that. Coach Chris Petersen used the comfortable lead to give Frisina a chance from 42 yards. He drove it low and it was blocked. The Broncos again won the hidden yardage battle with its punt and kickoff coverage. Grade: B
The Broncos were 1-for-3 on fourth-down tries, giving them their first conversion of the year. Boise State was able to get its true freshmen involved on offense, as receiver Shane Williams-Rhodes (five touches) and running back Jack Fields (10 carries) got extensive action. Grade: B+
IN THE POLLS
Boise State climbed one spot to No. 21 in the Bowl Championship Series Standings released Sunday. The Broncos are No. 18 in the USA Today Coaches Poll and No. 19 in the Harris Poll, but the computers are beginning to drag them down because of their schedule. Boise State is No. 24 in the computers. Big Ten schools Michigan (22) and Wisconsin (25) are the top candidates from that league to finish ahead of Boise State and prevent the top-16 automatic berth for the Broncos. Ohio is No. 24 and the top contender from a non-BCS automatic-qualifying conference to jump the Broncos. Boise State moved up three spots to No. 21 in The Associated Press Top 25, which is not a part of the formula for calculating the BCS Standings.