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Can Idaho pull off a shocker?

by From local and wire reports
| November 12, 2010 8:00 PM

Strong safety Shiloh Keo, a fifth-year senior, was quite emotional after Idaho was thumped 63-17 by Nevada last week at home.

Keo was upset, in part, by the realization he will have completed his college career never having beaten the Wolf Pack.

So imagine the emotion tonight for Keo and the rest of the Vandals, who haven't beaten Boise State since the famous two-point conversion late in the 1998 game at Bronco Stadium sent Idaho to the Humanitarian Bowl.

"As important as that one (the Nevada game) was, I promise you it pales in comparison to what the rival game is, and what it means to the program and to our alumni," Idaho coach Robb Akey said. "I promise you if you ask any of our alums anywhere, you want to beat Nevada or you want to beat Boise, I think it's about 1,000 percent they want to see us win the rival game."

Idaho (4-5, 1-3 Western Athletic Conference) will get that chance tonight, as fourth-ranked Boise State (8-0, 4-0) visits the Kibbie Dome for perhaps the last time in a game televised by ESPN2. The game in the 16,000-seat stadium is sold out.

Boise State is a 34 1/2-point favorite, and the other numbers don't look very promising for the Vandals either.

Boise State is ranked second in the country in scoring offense (47.0 points per game), scoring defense (12.6 points per game) and total defense (231.4 yards allowed per game) and fourth in total offense (543.6).

Idaho is 39th nationally in total offense (414.0), but 103rd (out of 120 FBS teams) in total defense (436.8). Idaho is fourth nationally in passing offense (330.8 yards per game), but 116th in rushing offense (83.2 yards per game).

The Vandals are 55th in scoring offense (28.7) and 82nd in scoring defense (29.3).

In their last three losses - against Louisiana Tech, Hawaii and Nevada - the Vandals defense has surrendered 2,021 yards and 156 points.

Their reward for giving up yards and points at a stunning rate: a Boise State offense that saw quarterback Kellen Moore throw for 507 yards in three quarters last week and posted 737 total yards in the Broncos' 42-7 win over Hawaii.

"We can't allow that to happen against a good team and now we're going to play an even better team and they're really going to air it out against us," Keo said.

The Governor's Cup matchup begins a three-week stretch for Boise State of prime-time appearances on national television against respectable opponents that could help raise its profile, but maybe not their BCS standing. After the trip to Moscow, the Broncos return home to play Fresno State before their highly anticipated matchup at No. 21 Nevada on Nov. 26.

Clearly, if Boise State is to remain on the fringes of the national title discussion, they can't afford a lackluster effort against the Vandals - let alone a season-crushing loss. And just to make sure his players didn't drop any potential nuggets of motivation for the Vandals, Boise State coach Chris Petersen banned all player interviews this week.

"We just have got a short week and usually when we get into this game situation with Idaho, usually somebody says something they shouldn't say," Petersen said. "With all the distractions we've had going on here I thought it was a good time for our guys just to take care of our own business and worry about ourselves rather than a bunch of people asking them questions about a bunch of things they don't really need to be focused on right now."

With Boise State moving to the Mountain West Conference after this season, the two teams will not meet for at least the next two years. If and when the rivalry is renewed, the two sides disagree on how it should be renewed - Idaho still wants to keep it as a home-and-home series, while Boise State would prefer to play the games only in its home stadium.

Some of the harsh comments between the two sides have softened, with both schools saying they're working toward renewing the rivalry in the future. Still, the atmosphere in the quirky Kibbie Dome is expected to be less than friendly to the Broncos.

"The energy in this place when they come here is ridiculous," Idaho defensive end Aaron Lavarias said. "I'm going to miss it."

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