RENO, Nev. – Boise State football coach Chris Petersen stated the obvious for the thousands of orange-and-blue clad fans who made the trip to Reno on Saturday to watch the 25th-ranked Broncos earn a share of the Mountain West Conference and ensure their nation’s best seventh consecutive 10-win season.
“It’s better than last time we were here,” he said.
D.J. Harper ran for 130 yards and a touchdown and Joe Southwick threw for two more scores to lead Boise State past Nevada 27-21 on Saturday.
Boise State (10-2, 7-1) opened up a 17-point lead in the third quarter just like it did in 2010 when Nevada stormed back to score one of the biggest victories in school history, 34-31 in overtime.
But this time the Broncos’ defense put the clamps on the Nevada offense that was averaging 38 points per game. And just as the home team seemed to be gaining some momentum, tight end Zach Sudfeld fumbled the ball on the way into the end zone, silencing the sellout crowd of 30,007, the fifth-largest in Mackay Stadium history.
“You know a game like this is going to come down to a couple of plays and you’re going to have to get a couple breaks, we’re going to have to get a couple turnovers,” Petersen said. “A play like that makes all the difference in the world.”
Boise State gave itself a slim chance to reach the BCS, but the Broncos will have to move up at least four spots in the last standings to the top 16 and be ahead of Mid-American Conference champ Northern Illinois to grab a bid to the marquee games.
They’ll probably have to settle for something smaller, again.
“I know we’ll play somebody good,” Petersen said. “There are no bad teams going to bowl games.”
Stefphon Jefferson ran for 139 yards and a touchdown and Cody Fajardo passed for 203 yards and ran for 81 for the Wolf Pack (7-5, 4-4), who lost four of their last five games after starting the season 6-1.
Matt Miller caught seven passes for 127 yards, including a 52-yard touchdown from Southwick that put Boise ahead late 24-7.