Brian Murphy hands out the grades for Boise State's 42-30 win over Colorado State:
Quarterback Grant Hedrick, in his second start, and running back Jay Ajayi fumbled on Boise State's first offensive play. Things got considerably better from there. Hedrick, showing a comfort level not seen in his start against BYU, threw for a career-high 305 yards and five touchdowns and rushed for another in the win. The Broncos' wide receivers stepped up, too, making tough catches for Hedrick. Matt Miller, who has been quiet in recent weeks, had six grabs for 96 yards and two touchdowns. Shane Williams-Rhodes, Geraldo Boldewijn and Aaron Burks each had a TD catch.
The Broncos averaged better than 16 yards per reception, a sign of their success getting the ball downfield against one of the worst pass defenses in the country. Ajayi averaged 7.0 yards per carry on 13 attempts. His 91 yards pushed him past 1,000 for the season. The Broncos had the ball for just 20 minutes but made the most out of their opportunities. The Broncos were a perfect 4-for-4 scoring touchdowns in the red zone, and the Hedrick-Ajayi fumble on the first play was the team's lone turnover. Grade: A
Do you grade on a curve? The Broncos played the entire game without starting defensive tackle Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe and middle linebacker Blake Renaud. They were without backup defensive tackle Justin Taimatuia, defensive end Kharyee Marshall, linebackers Ben Weaver and Tanner Vallejo, and safeties Dillon Lukehart and Darian Thompson for various parts of the game. Marshall, a senior, was forced into action at tackle, a position he has never practiced. Colorado State took advantage, amassing 626 yards of total offense and 35 first downs.
The Broncos' defense, however, made enough big plays to get the win. Boise State had 10 tackles for loss (three from true freshman Gabe Perez), three sacks and forced three fumbles (two by Perez). Seldom-used tackle Robert Ash had two quarterback hurries. Defensive end Demarcus Lawrence, one of the few healthy starters, had two tackles for loss, a sack and a forced fumble. Cornerback Donte Deayon's interception in the fourth quarter sealed the game after Colorado State made things interesting. Vallejo (11 tackles), linebacker Corey Bell (11 tackles) and defensive tackle Tyler Horn (10 tackles, two for loss) put up big numbers, though Colorado State's 109 plays meant a lot of tackles for BSU. The bye week should help the defense. Grade: B
Freshman Sean Wale turned field position with a 63-yard punt early in the game. Boise State continues to get good work out of its two punters, with Wale and Trevor Harman combining for three punts inside the 20. Injuries are depleting the Broncos' special teams units as well. Perhaps that was a factor in 61-yard kickoff return by Colorado State. Dan Goodale had four touchbacks in seven kickoffs. Grade: B
Hedrick's rapid improvement and a decidedly different offensive game plan few screen passes, more downfield throws reflect well on the coaching staff. The ability to cope with injuries is certainly taxing the staff, which is having to shift constantly to its changing available personnel. Down 10-0 early, the Broncos who have made a point about slow starts scored touchdowns on five of their next six possessions. Since 2010, the Broncos are 7-0 after a loss and have outscored their opponents 355-126 in those games. Grade: A-
IN THE POLLS
Fresno State, which defeated Nevada to remain undefeated, moved up to No. 16 in the BCS Standings released Sunday. The Bulldogs are two spots ahead of Northern Illinois. Fresno State is ahead of No. 21 Central Florida, the current leader in the American Athletic Conference (former Big East), which is an automatic-qualifying conference.