BOISE — Boise State returned from its second bye week Sunday evening to face a stark reality.
The season is almost over. And for the seniors, that means their football careers are almost over.
The Broncos (6-3, 4-1 Mountain West) begin a three-game sprint toward the postseason Saturday with a home game against Wyoming (4-5, 2-3).
Youve worked an entire year really for these last three weeks, coach Chris Petersen said. Theres still a lot to play for. These games are all big for everybody at the end of the season. So thats where weve got to keep our focus and stay excited about those things. Those who can stay focused and be excited about this time of year are the teams that are going to come out and play well.
The Broncos need to win their last three games vs. Wyoming, at surging San Diego State (Nov. 23) and vs. New Mexico (Nov. 30) to win the Mountain Division and qualify for the Mountain West championship game Dec. 7. They also can win the division with two victories if Utah State (6-4, 5-1) loses at home to Colorado State (Nov. 23) or Wyoming (Nov. 30).
The Broncos finish also will determine their bowl fate, which could involve a fourth straight trip to Las Vegas (Dec. 21) to play a Pac-12 team.
As long as we continue to do our job, we can achieve all our goals, senior center Matt Paradis said.
In the West Division, Fresno State (9-0, 6-0) just needs to beat New Mexico on Nov. 23 in Fresno to clinch. The Bulldogs are in line to host the championship game as the highest-ranked Mountain West team (No. 14).
Southwick on track
Petersen expects senior starting quarterback Joe Southwick to return during the regular season. Southwick broke his right ankle Oct. 19 against Nevada and had surgery two days later.
Southwick apparently is pushing to return soon.
He somehow got his M.D. here in the last two weeks, Petersen said. Hes a competitor and he wants to be out there, but hes making progress. It will be interesting to see when hes at full speed. We dont want to put him in harms way at all. When Ryan (Dinwiddie) came back (from a broken ankle in 2002), he wasnt 100 percent thats why its a gray area.
Petersen was tight-lipped on the rest of the teams lengthy injury list coming out of the Nov. 2 game at Colorado State. The depth chart was unchanged, so that didnt provide any insight into who might be out for Saturdays game.
Petersen did say there werent any new long-term injuries.
A lot of those guys were in there four or five hours a day just doing treatment, junior linebacker Corey Bell said. That obviously accelerates their recovery time.
Time could change
Kickoff is set for 8:21 p.m. Saturday on ESPN2 and the network can push that back another 5 minutes, up to an hour before kickoff.
Long wait for Moore
Boise State senior wide receiver Kirby Moore, who received academic all-district honors last week, hasnt played since Sept. 20 at Fresno State (foot). Its unclear when he will return. He spent the past two games serving as a play signaler on the sideline because the Broncos only traveled two quarterbacks.
Hes like clockwork in terms of the student and person he is, Petersen said. That guy is rock solid. He hasnt been playing, but he knows every bit of our game plan, and hes signaling and hes trying to play during the week. The last week or two, hes been practicing and trying to get in there. Its one of those strange things. Each week, we are hopeful. Hes a great student, a better person. And with not a whole lot of season left, you hope he can be in there soon.
Not that shorthanded
Boise States injuries got so bad at Colorado State that senior Kharyee Marshall already a bit undersized at end moved to tackle.
That got starting center Matt Paradis thinking. He was a Defensive Scout Player of the Year before moving to the offensive line.
I thought about going to coach (Pete Kwiatkowski) and asking if he needed me, Paradis said, but I dont think that would have been received too well.
Said Petersen: He needs to stay put.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat