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September 25, 2010

Next up for No. 3 Boise State: No. 24 Oregon State

BOISE, Idaho (AP) The paint was applied early Monday morning in Corvallis, first a layer of white on top of the green grass, followed by a deep blue.

Oregon State's painting project brought a lot of free publicity this week and did a pretty good job replicating the famous blue turf of Boise State.

Now they get to test out the real thing, with the third-ranked team in the country on the other side.

"The turf is blue and their jerseys are blue, but there's 11 guys over there. I don't feel like the blue turf has to do with anything," Oregon State linebacker Dwight Roberson said. "It's a field; you play football on it. For me, it's nothing different."

After a few days of practice on their faux blue field, minus some orange accents, the No. 24 Beavers face No. 3 Boise State on the real "Blue" Saturday night in what likely stands as the only significant hurdle the Broncos must clear for at least the next two months.

Boise State (2-0) enters a significant lull in its schedule following the Beavers, where blowouts against the likes of New Mexico State, Toledo, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech are mandatory if the Broncos are to build a cache of victories worthy of title game consideration.

They're already trying to regain some recognition lost after their season opening win over Virginia Tech plummeted in value when the Hokies lost to FCS school James Madison a week later.

For many, the image Boise State leaves Saturday night will be a lasting illustration.

"It's going to be a great environment," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "It seems to always be when we play at home. It's such a great place."

The Broncos - and that famous swath of blue turf surrounded by 34,000 seats - are certainly getting their share of attention this week. ESPN's popular College GameDay will broadcast from a stage situated at the 40-yard line on Saturday, some 10 hours before a nationwide network TV broadcast gives the Broncos - and by association the Beavers - additional national exposure.

Of course, in true Boise fashion, the set for show can't be built on the field until after Boise High plays Vallivue and Capital faces Eagle in a high school doubleheader Friday night.

Underlying all the glitz, the stages, the circus surrounding the Broncos' home opener is a pretty difficult opponent. Oregon State (1-1) would love nothing more than to end all the BCS dreams in Bronco Country and make up for a season opening 30-21 loss to TCU - the other, often forgotten non-automatic qualifier just one spot behind Boise State in the rankings.

"This is the beauty of what we have going this season in that we have played in two games that were nationally spotlighted. I don't think this will be a major difference or a big surprise to the team, which is kind of the goal," Oregon State coach Mike Riley said.

"You learn how to handle, and play and focus despite everything that's going on around you," he said. "That's what we want our program to be and be considered anyway, so the more that becomes commonplace, the better it is for your players."

There is history on the Beavers side in this situation.

In three of their last four meetings against teams ranked in the top five of the AP Top 25 the Beavers have pulled the upset - a pretty heady accomplishment for a program that during one stretch went 28 years between winning seasons.

The streak of top-five success started in 2006 with a 33-31 win over then-No. 3 Southern California. A year later, the Beavers upset No. 2 California 31-28 in Berkeley, when the Golden Bears were poised to take over the top spot in the country.

Then, on this same weekend in 2008, Oregon State knocked off No. 1 USC in Corvallis 27-21. And the instigator of that upset is still around. Jacquizz Rodgers finished with 213 combined yards and two touchdowns against the Trojans. Now a junior, the shifty tailback is coming off a 132-yard, two touchdown effort last week against Louisville.

"With Quiz, he has as much agility as any player I've seen and can remember for sure. He can stop and start on a dime, and it's so much of his game," Petersen said. "You just don't see many backs like that. Everybody is straight ahead and powerful ... but his game is if it's clogged up, it's almost to his advantage."

But while Jacquizz Rodgers, his wide receiver brother James and sophomore quarterback Ryan Katz will be asked to do their part sustaining drives and keeping Boise State's dynamic offense on the sideline, much of the Beavers success will be determined by their defense.

Both TCU and Louisville ripped through the Beavers defense, each rolling up 453 total yards. That's a paltry total compared to the 648 total yards quarterback Kellen Moore and the Broncos piled up in their 51-6 blowout at Wyoming last Saturday.

Moore threw for 370 yards and two scores, even with one of his favorite targets, receiver Austin Pettis, benched after somersaulting into the end zone on a 58-yard TD pass.

And if Boise State's dynamic offense wasn't challenging enough, the Broncos haven't lost a regular season game at home in nine years.

"I really don't pay attention to rankings but I know Boise State is a really good team," Roberson said. "We are ready for the challenge to play against a team that has won at home 56 straight times and is third in the nation."


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