Bronco Beat

Boise State football team jumps to No. 22 in AP, Coaches polls

The Boise State football team jumped three spots to No. 22 in The Associated Press Top 25 and the Amway Coaches Poll on Sunday.

The Broncos are the clear favorites among Group of Five teams. The others receiving votes in both polls were Marshall, Memphis, Colorado State, Air Force, Northern Illinois, UCF and Cincinnati, but none of them were close to cracking the Top 25.

The polls aren’t a factor in the College Football Playoff Top 25, but they’re an indication of how far ahead the Broncos are in the race for a New Year’s Six bowl slot.

The Broncos almost certainly will get a NY6 berth — likely to the Fiesta Bowl — if they beat Fresno State (6-6) in the Mountain West championship game. That contest begins at 8 p.m. Saturday at Albertsons Stadium and airs on CBS. Tickets are on sale now through the Boise State ticket office ($40 for most, $20 in north end zone). The ticket office is open until 9 p.m. and tickets also can be purchased through boisestatetickets.com.

The Broncos won one co-championship (2012) in their first three years in the Mountain West. They haven’t won an outright title since 2009 in the WAC.

“We’re obsessed with winning the Mountain West Conference championship around this program. We are,” offensive coordinator Mike Sanford said. “We haven’t done it outright. We haven’t won the WAC in a few years outright, either. That’s all we talked about from when we started here and that’s what’s driven us to try to get ourselves to different heights.”

The Broncos beat Utah State 50-19 on Saturday night to win the Mountain West Mountain Division.

NCAA STATS

Boise State junior tailback Jay Ajayi is on pace for a historic season in college football. He leads the nation in offensive touches (348) and ranks third in yards from scrimmage (179.6 per game) with 2,155.

He already has the 40th-most yards from scrimmage in Football Bowl Subdivision history. He’s on pace for the fourth-most, although he actually could finish fifth on that list because he’s behind Wisconsin’s Melvin Gordon and they both have two games left.

Other notes:

— Boise State led the nation in scoring in November with 52.8 points per game and in October/November with 50.6 points per game. The Broncos are ninth on the season with 40.8 points per game.

— The Broncos are eighth in total offense (512.1 yards per game), ninth in pass efficiency (156.40), 37th in total defense (363.5 yards per game) and 72nd in scoring defense (27.6 points per game). The total defense is a major turnaround for a team that was 61st on Nov. 15, going into the San Diego State game.

— Quarterback Grant Hedrick leads the nation in completion percentage at 71.5 percent. He also is ninth in pass efficiency at 158.7.

— Safety Darian Thompson is third in interceptions at 0.6 per game.

Boise State scored touchdowns on its first five possessions against Utah State — the first time the Broncos have done that since the Idaho game in 2009.

I didn’t have a chance to get Sanford’s quotes in the newspaper. Here are some highlights:

— On Ajayi: “He’s been incredible. He was outstanding in that game tonight. I really do think that’s one of the better defenses we’ve seen — really a physical defense, a very confident defense coming into that game.”

— On the lull after scoring five straight TDs: “It was kind of disappointing to hit a lull there. We kind of used our bullets in the first half.”

— On Hedrick: “A lot of stuff was told to me about his limitations leading into this year. Everybody has an opinion. I just didn’t see it. I didn’t see the limitations others had talked about, on the previous staff or guys that had been here. I thought the kid has unbelievable amounts of potential intellectually, physically as a runner and as an accurate quarterback.”

— Sophomore guard Travis Averill “had one of the greatest blocks allegedly in Boise State offensive line history,” Sanford said. He was told that by former Broncos offensive linemen Scott Huff (offensive line coach), Thomas Byrd (offensive graduate assistant) and Nate Potter (some kind of assistant). Sanford thought the block was on Ajayi’s 19-yard TD run when he reversed field. Averill apparently took out three guys.

OUR GAME COVERAGE

Game story

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Sidebar on Jeremy Ioane

Murphy column on the coaching staff

Press conference videos, notes, quotes, stats

THE ASSOCIATED PRESS TOP 25

The Top 25 teams in The Associated Press college football poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 29, total points based on 25 points for a first-place vote through one point for a 25th-place vote, and previous ranking:

Record Pts Pv

1. Alabama (25) 11-1 1,426 2

2. Florida St. (29) 12-0 1,423 1

3. Oregon (5) 11-1 1,391 3

4. TCU 10-1 1,274 6

5. Baylor 10-1 1,243 5

6. Ohio St. 11-1 1,192 7

7. Michigan St. 10-2 1,048 10

8. Arizona 10-2 1,027 12

9. Kansas St. 9-2 995 11

10. Mississippi St. 10-2 944 4

11. Wisconsin 10-2 910 14

12. Georgia Tech 10-2 823 16

13. Mississippi 9-3 753 18

14. Missouri 10-2 740 17

15. Georgia 9-3 606 8

16. UCLA 9-3 512 9

17. Arizona St. 9-3 495 13

18. Oklahoma 8-3 485 20

19. Clemson 9-3 418 23

20. Auburn 8-4 358 15

21. Louisville 9-3 346 24

22. Boise St. 10-2 265 25

23. LSU 8-4 145 NR

24. Utah 8-4 79 NR

25. Nebraska 9-3 64 NR

Others receiving votes: Southern Cal 61, Minnesota 47, Duke 22, Marshall 22, Memphis 21, Colorado St. 18, Air Force 7, Stanford 4, West Virginia 4, N. Illinois 3, UCF 3, Cincinnati 1.

AMWAY COACHES POLL

The Amway Top 25 football coaches poll, with first-place votes in parentheses, records through Nov. 29, total points based on 25 points for first place through one point for 25th, and previous ranking:

Record Pts Pvs1. Alabama (28) 11-1 1507 1

2. Florida State (28) 12-0 1489 2

3. Oregon (6) 11-1 1458 3

4. TCU 10-1 1339 5

5. Baylor 10-1 1300 6

6. Ohio State 11-1 1269 7

7. Michigan State 10-2 1136 8

8. Arizona 10-2 1050 12

9. Kansas State 9-2 1037 11

10. Mississippi State 10-2 979 4

11. Wisconsin 10-2 955 14

12. Georgia Tech 10-2 867 15

13. Missouri 10-2 820 17

14. Mississippi 9-3 709 19

15. Georgia 9-3 590 9

16. Oklahoma 8-3 582 18

17. UCLA 9-3 517 10

18. Arizona State 9-3 486 13

19. Clemson 9-3 439 24

20. Louisville 9-3 395 23

21. Auburn 8-4 361 16

22. Boise State 10-2 253 25

23. Nebraska 9-3 166 NR

24. LSU 8-4 87 NR

25. Minnesota 8-4 86 22

Others receiving votes: Utah 59; Southern California 52; Duke 50; Marshall 22; Colorado State 21; Cincinnati 18; Northern Illinois 15; Memphis 10; Stanford 9; Air Force 7; Louisiana Tech 5; Central Florida 3; Arkansas 2.

MY AP BALLOT

1 Florida State

2 Oregon

3 Alabama

4 Baylor

5 TCU

6 Ohio State

7 Arizona

8 Michigan State

9 Ole Miss

10 Mississippi State

11 Georgia Tech

12 Kansas State

13 Wisconsin

14 Missouri

15 UCLA

16 Oklahoma

17 Georgia

18 Clemson

19 Arizona State

20 Auburn

21 Boise State

22 Louisville

23 LSU

24 Utah

25 USC

Dropped out: Minnesota, Colorado State, Marshall

Also considered: Nebraska, Duke, Memphis, Northern Illinois

Email me at ccripe@idahostatesman.com.

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