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September 9, 2009

Boise St vs Miami (Ohio) Preview

AP) -- An ugly incident on Boise State's blue turf overshadowed an exceptional performance by the Broncos' defense in the season opener.

(While the postgame fracas received significant attention, the bottom line is Boise State seemingly managed to clear the biggest hurdle between it and another potential run at a BCS bowl game.

The 12th-ranked Broncos look for another inspiring defensive showing Saturday night when they host Miami of Ohio in the first meeting between the programs.

In one of the most highly anticipated home games in Boise State history, the Broncos defeated then-No. 16 Oregon 19-8 last Thursday night.

Although it's early, the victory gave Boise State an inside edge to its first BCS bowl berth since defeating Oklahoma 43-42 in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos, picked to win the Western Athletic Conference for the seventh time in eight years, moved up two spots in the latest AP poll and have no other major obstacles on the schedule.

Boise State looked impressive in the opener, controlling the line of scrimmage and pushing around the Ducks, the first ranked team to visit Bronco Stadium for a regular-season game. Afterward, Oregon pushed back.

During the postgame celebration with players from both teams still on the field, Ducks running back LeGarrette Blount punched Boise State's Byron Hout, dropping him to his knees.

Hout instigated the confrontation by yelling in Blount's face and tapping him on the shoulder pad right in front of Broncos coach Chris Petersen. Before Petersen could pull Hout away, Blount landed a right hand to the defensive end's jaw.

Then as Blount was being pulled off the field, he had to be restrained from fans heckling him on the way to the locker room. The Ducks suspended Blount for the rest of the season, while Hout did not receive a suspension.

"I would love to be just talking about the game and how guys played and all that," Petersen said. "When something like that happens, no question there is going to be a shadow cast over it."

Petersen likely would have wanted to discuss his defense, which frustrated Blount long before the postgame punch.

Boise State limited Blount, who rushed for a school record 17 touchdowns last season, to minus-5 yards on eight carries.

The Broncos shut down an Oregon offense that averaged a Pac-10-best 484.8 yards last season to 152 and held the Ducks without a first down until 7:07 left in the third quarter.

"So much of this game comes down to know what you're looking at, know how to play the call, and go compete your (butt) off and see what happens," defensive coordinator Justin Wilcox said.

Wilcox directed the Football Bowl Subdivision's third-ranked scoring defense from a year ago (12.6 points per game), but it got overlooked by an offense that scored at least 40 points six times.

"It's about players, and when people look at our school I hope they're thinking of offense because that means we're scoring points," Wilcox said.

Scoring points is something that eluded Miami in its season opener, and it won't get any easier for the RedHawks to get in the end zone this weekend.

Miami suffered a 42-0 loss to Kentucky on Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, the program's most lopsided season-opening defeat since falling 61-0 at Pittsburgh in 1931.

Under new coach Michael Haywood, who spent the past four years as Notre Dame's offensive coordinator, the RedHawks were limited to 188 yards and turned the ball over twice. Daniel Raudabaugh completed 13 of 34 passes for 126 yards and threw two interceptions.

"It stinks," safety Jordan Gafford said. "But it's a long season, and we know that. We want so bad to turn this thing around."

Miami, which went 2-10 last season, has lost three straight to ranked opponents since a 49-27 win over then-No. 20 Bowling Green on Dec. 4, 2003.

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