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Boise State finishes regular season undefeated, breezes by New Mexico State, 42-7

Boise State sailed to an easy win over New Mexico State on Saturday, beating the Aggies 42-7 and wrapping up an undefeated regular season. Was it enough for a BCS bid? Tonight's Texas-Nebraska game might have something to say about it, and you can comment along throughout that game in Saturday's comment thread.

For a full recap and analysis of the Boise State win, continue reading after the jump. Who stepped up in Austin Pettis's absence? What new star enjoyed a breakout game? Who looked better: Martin or Avery? Analysis coming soon now posted, and feel free to add your own reaction in the comments.

Broncos have done everything asked of them; now the waiting game begins

Boise State wrapped up its third undefeated regular season in four years with the win over New Mexico State - one of the best streaks in college football. Will Boise State be rewarded with a BCS bowl?

Who knows? Tonight's Texas-Nebraska game will play a big role (comment on that game in today's Comment Thread, if you'd like), and the final answer will come tomorrow (there will be a BCS comment thread for that, too). In the meantime, let's take a step back and just appreciate what the Broncos have been able to accomplish this year.

So few college football teams can maintain consistent success anymore. For Boise State to be able to do it, with two seniors on the depth chart and with a huge target on their back every week, is really remarkable. Congratulations to Coach Pete and the Bronco players.

Kyle Efaw is the new Austin Pettis

After two shaky three-and-outs to start the game, the Bronco offense picked up steam and scored TDs on six of their next seven drives. Did they miss Austin Pettis? Yes and no. The two three-and-outs could have used Pettis's sure hands on a 3rd down call, but the rest of the Bronco possessions seemed just as smooth and efficient as always.

With Pettis's production missing, there was rampant speculation all week long on who would fill his shoes. Here are stats on the most notable replacements.

Titus Young	7 catches,	92 yards, 1 touchdown
Kyle Efaw 5 catches, 68 yards
Jeremy Avery 3 catches, 50 yards
Mitch Burroughs 1 catch, 32 yards
Chris Potter 3 catches, 31 yards

Kirby Moore 3 catches, 18 yards

The winner? Kyle Efaw. The TE's five catches and 68 yards were nearly season highs in both categories (he had 70 yards versus LaTech). Efaw was a part of the offense from the get-go, and his 19-yard catch on the first scoring drive really sparked the offense.

How do you think Titus Young performed? He definitely had his ups and downs, dropping a few balls and going offside but also coming up with a big TD grab and leading the team in receiving. He was open on all four of his deep routes, but he and Kellen Moore couldn't connect. At least we're not questioning Moore's arm strength anymore, right?

What do you think about Burroughs and Potter? Their final numbers appear pretty insignificant, and they were not a big part of the offense like it seemed they might be. The Broncos predominantly moved the ball on the ground and through Young, Efaw, and Avery through the air. It worked fine against NMSU, but will it work so well in a bowl game?

Best news of the day? Michael Atkinson is as good as we thought he was

The giant Bronco DT who had been plagued by injuries and suspension for much of the year finally looks healthy, and he seems to have grown into the No. 3 DT spot behind Chase Baker and Billy Winn. Atkinson was a big part of the defensive gameplan on Saturday with New Mexico State's running focus. Though he's not a polished player by any stretch, his size and strength in the middle of the Bronco defense is different than what any other BSU player brings to the table. He gets better and better every week, and he could end up playing a big role in the Broncos' bowl game.

Also, did you see his block on Doug Martin's TD run? Atkinson lined up at fullback and completely collapsed his man as well as an entire side of the Aggie defense. It was one of the most dominating blocks I have seen a Boise State player make.

From the department of new Bronco defenses: The 2-4 and the 5-2

Justin Wilcox is really just making stuff up at this point. Against the Aggies, Boise State unveiled two new looks on defense, and with the Aggies being the Aggies, both formations worked like a charm.

The first was a 5-2 defense with three defensive tackles along the line: Baker, Winn, and Atkinson. The Broncos went to this defense to match up against NMSU's big running sets.

Later on in the first half, Boise State showed a 2-4 with only two down linemen and defensive linemen Byron Hout and J.P. Nisby as stand-up linebackers. Similar to the 3-3-5, the 2-4 allowed Boise State to blitz and get some quick pressure on the Aggies.

For the bowl game, who knows what we'll see? The 1-6? The 10-Wilson? I think anything's fair game at this point.

How many WAC teams could Tommy Smith start on?

Bronco linebacker depth was called into question this week with the injuries to Daron Mackey and Derrell Acrey, but the performances of Hunter White, Aaron Tevis, J.C. Percy, and especially Tommy Smith provided a pretty good answer. Smith received his most playing time all season, and he made the most of it, running down players on defense and special teams.

New Mexico State rushed for 142 yards, 114 coming from RB Seth Smith. Considering that the running game was all the Aggies had on Saturday (they completed 4 passes for 49 yards all game long), the play of the Bronco front seven had to be solid, and it was.

Dan Paul continues transmogrification into Richie Brockel

Is Dan Paul as good at blocking from the fullback position as Richie Brockel was? I might not go that far just yet, but the Paul-Brockel comparison is getting easier and easier to make every week. Paul excelled once again, replacing the injured Brockel. His contribution to the running game in recent weeks is a big reason why Boise State has been so successful on the ground. Looking at him, he honestly looks like the next generation Brockel. Hard to believe he was playing linebacker just a year ago. He seems born to be a fullback.

Avery and Martin: It's just not fair anymore

Both Bronco running backs had big games on Saturday, Avery with 86 yards and a score and Martin with 83 yards and 4 TDs. Martin got things going on the Broncos' third drive of the game with some hard running that softened the Aggie defense. Avery picked up where Martin left off, making plays outside the tackle and using his speed to chew up yardage.

Best run of the day? It had to be Martin's 56-yard burst to the end zone where he stiff-armed a defender at the line of scrimmage and showcased some pull-away speed to the end zone. On Saturday, I think the Bronco running game was more dangerous than the passing game, and I cannot remember the last time I thought that.

Other observations:

  • It is rare that a defender can get back to the punter so fast, which might be why George Iloka didn't get the full block on the Kyle Hughes punt.
  • There are easier ways to throw 16-yard outs to Kyle Efaw than sweep throwbacks.
  • Is Chris Potter more of a blocking threat than a receiving threat? Potter's best plays this season have featured his blocking skills, including a wipeout of an NMSU defender on Jeremy Avery's TD run. To run successfully, you have to have receivers who block downfield. In that sense, Potter's value is better than it seems.
  • The New Mexico State offense looked like this was its opening game of the season. Apart from Seth Smith, that offense has to be one of the worst in WAC history.
  • Did his stats in this game officially remove Kellen Moore from Heisman consideration? He was still his usual flawless self, but I have to think that Heisman voters want to see TDs.
  • According to Mark Johnson, we should all be pulling for the Broncos to make the Tostitos Doritos Bowl.
  • Speaking of Johnson, he made an ominous reference at the end of the game that this could be his last broadcast considering that Boise State's media contracts change next year. Hmm ...