3:30 PM ET, September 8, 2007
Husky Stadium, SEATTLE, WA
SEATTLE (AP) -- Yes, life's been great for Boise State.
The Broncos have a 14-game winning streak, the longest in major college football. Their wild upset of Oklahoma in the Bowl Championship Series -- capped by a sideline marriage proposal by their star tailback -- was the feel-good hit of last season. There's even a feature-length film on their Fiesta Bowl fairy tale in the works.
Still, No. 22 Boise State can do something its never done Saturday against Washington.
The Broncos have never beaten a team from one of the big six conferences on the road. They are 0-12 in the big boys' backyards.
A crowd of about 70,000 -- more than twice the capacity of Bronco Stadium -- is expected at Husky Stadium for the home debut of heralded redshirt freshman quarterback Jake Locker, who had a dynamic debut last week in a 30-point win at Syracuse. It could be UW's largest home turnout since 2003, its last non-losing season.
The Broncos have an .856 winning percentage (77-13) that is best in major college football since 2000 and the feeling they have little left to prove.
"We just have to go out there and play well and let the guys who are supposedly so much smarter than us decide what it means for us at the end," said Ian Johnson, the newly married running back.
Tyrone Willingham, 8-16 in his third season as Washington's coach, said the Broncos don't need a road win to validate themselves.
"I think they've kind of erased that with the bowl game," Willingham said.
Boise State is a three-point favorite, a rare instance that a Pac-10 team is a home underdog to a team from the Western Athletic Conference.
"No, it doesn't really surprise us that we're favored," Johnson said. "It's all perceived. It's nice that someone thinks we're better than them. But we'll go out there and show them what the truth is."
Petersen's array of formations, pre-snap motion and trick plays will challenge a Washington defense that has three starters in the secondary who had never started a for the Huskies until last week.
"I'm sure they have a lot of stuff waiting and prepared for us," Washington defensive coordinator Kent Baer said. "It's a big game for them to go into our stadium, big crowd and basically part of the Northwest. It's important for them to come up and play well here."
For all Boise State's famous tricks, Johnson drives the offense in a very conventional fashion with power running between the tackles.
When Boise State does go up top, Petersen could target cornerback Vonzell McDowell. The true freshman is starting again only because Byron Davenport, a transfer from UCLA, is likely to remain out with a hamstring injury and Jordan Murchison is away from the team because of charges from two separate incidents before the season.
"I'm still learning a lot. I still have the little errors that I do," McDowell said. "I'm just trying to get better."
Baer acknowledged, "There's a little concern."
But not with Locker. He completed 14 of 19 passes and ran for 84 yards and two touchdowns in his highly anticipated first start.
"I can see why everyone is excited about him. What a talent," Petersen said.
Locker is the reason Washington is entering a four-week gauntlet of games with more optimism than its had in five years. After Boise State, No. 12 Ohio State visits. Then Washington plays at No. 13 UCLA, before No. 1 Southern California comes to Seattle.
If last week is any indication, the tough stretch shouldn't fluster Locker.
"He settled me down," Huskies offensive coordinator Tim Lappano said of the hours before the opener. "He looked at me with a big smile and said, 'Coach, I'm ready to go."
Locker knows recently suffering Huskies fans are ready, too.
"I think there's a lot of excitement around the program right now," Locker said. "And obviously there is going to be a lot of excitement on Saturday. ... It gives us a good opportunity to see where we're at, and how we measure up."
Associated Press Writer Todd Dvorak in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.
Top 25 Overview
Boise State looks to run the nation's longest winning streak to 15 as it visits Washington. The Huskies and redshirt freshman QB Jake Locker looked sharp in a rout over Syracuse.
|Avg Points Allowed||15.5||11.0|