BRONCOS WITH THE BALL
Time to step up: The Broncos have played four bowl-bound teams this season. The offense has produced 45 points in those games 11.25 per game with a high of 20 against Fresno State. Nevada, which is headed to the New Mexico Bowl, is the fifth bowl-bound foe. We need to be more consistent, coach Chris Petersen said. Again, there (that word) is. Yeah, you usually dont play as well against the best teams. But do we need to play better? We do.
The Broncos have scored a season-high 49 points and 42 points in their past two games, a sign of improvement. And they have scored at least 40 points in each of their past three road games.
Against their best opponents, though, they have failed to make key plays on offense. Petersen remembers that goal-line stand by BYU, the penalty that wiped out a touchdown against Fresno State and the missed opportunities in the red zone against Michigan State.
The better teams will convert those, he said. Thats the bottom line. Weve had some opportunities to do some things that we just havent capitalized on.
Struggling D: The Wolf Packs never-ending defensive problems are largely to blame for their disappointing 4-3 conference record. The Pack allowed 39, 48 and 52 points in their three Mountain West losses. They rank 95th in scoring defense (33 points per game) and 111th in rushing defense (213 yards per game).
WOLF PACK WITH THE BALL
Impressive double: The Wolf Pack are the only team in the nation to average at least 245 yards rushing and passing this season. (For more, see key matchup below.)
Kickoff woes: Petersen said he doesnt lack confidence in his kickoff team, which has resorted to specialty kicks in the past two games after allowing two kickoff returns for touchdowns. That doesnt mean the Broncos will kick deep every time. Were trying not to be as predictable is really the big thing, special teams coach Scott Huff said.
Happy returns: The Wolf Pack had the nations No. 7 punt returner last year and they have the No. 2 returner this year, cornerback Khalid Wooten.
Quick hits: Nevada will honor 16 seniors. Wolf Pack OL Chris Barker has started 51 straight games. ... BSU, with six in 11, needs one first-half shutout for the school record.