Oct. 24, 2004
SportsLine.com wire reports

BOISE, Idaho -- Boise State impressed Fresno State coach Pat Hill more than any of those big conference teams he has faced the past couple of seasons.

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The Broncos extended the nation's longest winning streak to 18 games with a 33-16 victory over Fresno State on Saturday night.

"This is a better football team than Kansas State or Washington. This is a better football team than Tennessee last year," Hill said.

Fresno State won at Washington and Kansas State to open this season and lost at Tennessee last year.

Known more for its wide-open, high-scoring offense, the Broncos used a punishing defense and strong running game to beat the Bulldogs and improve to 7-0 for the first time in school history.

It was Boise State's 22nd consecutive Western Athletic Conference victory and 23rd home victory in a row, also the longest streak in the country.

No. 18 Boise State (4-0 WAC) last lost at home in September 2001 against Washington State.

"The more this thing goes on, the more we need to focus," Boise State coach Dan Hawkins said.

The Broncos held Fresno State (3-3, 0-3) to just 17 yards rushing on 17 carries.

Fresno State was averaging 204 yards per game on the ground. It was the Bulldogs' third consecutive conference loss after starting the season 3-0.

"Seventeen yards rushing? I was looking up at that the whole time," Boise State defensive lineman Alex Gurrero said. "We worked all week on that. It's just huge."

Offensively, Boise State pounded the running game on a chilly night when heavy rain and hail alternated throughout the game. Lee Marks rushed for a career-high 112 yards, and the Broncos ran 55 times.

Jared Zabransky added 227 yards passing and did not throw an interception. His 5-yard touchdown pass to Andy Weldon with 4:31 left finally put the game out of reach. Zabransky also ran for a 1-yard TD in the third quarter.

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Fresno State quarterback Paul Pinegar could not take advantage of a Boise State pass defense ranked 111th in the country. Pinegar threw for 174 yards, but led the Bulldogs on only one sustained scoring drive and his two interceptions led to 10 Boise State points.

"That was just a phenomenal job by the entire defense," Boise State linebacker Andy Avalos said.

The Broncos have their sights set on a Bowl Championship Series berth. Boise State was 14th in the first BCS rankings, but the possibility of climbing into serious contention for a BCS game would require a number of losses by teams ahead of them in the rankings. The WAC does not gain an automatic berth into the BCS.

Boise State would need to be ranked in the top 12 in the final rankings to be considered for a BCS game. A top-six ranking would guarantee a BCS berth.

The WAC championship is the one thing Boise State can earn on its own and that's what the Broncos are focused on.

"I'll tell you what, if anyone in this conference wants to catch these guys they'd better plan on coming in here and playing a great game," Hill said.