Dec. 31, 2006
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Boise State coach Chris Petersen says Oklahoma is probably the biggest team his Broncos have faced, and the fastest.
That size and speed loom large in Monday night's Fiesta Bowl, where the unbeaten and ninth-ranked Broncos of the Western Athletic Conference are decided underdogs against the Big 12 champion and seventh-ranked Sooners.
"The thing that always concerns us is not so much the size of guys, but it's more the speed of people," Petersen said. "Now, when you're as big as Oklahoma and have the speed, that can be another curve ball into the mix."
Petersen and Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops held their final pre-game news conferences on Sunday, then posed beside the ornate Fiesta Bowl trophy that goes to the winner. This is heady stuff for the Broncos, but nothing new to the Sooners, who are appearing in their fourth Bowl Championship Series game in five years.
This Oklahoma team has overcome eligibility problems, injury woes and a disputed loss at Oregon to win its final seven games. That makes it different from some of Stoops' other highly successful squads.
"Of course, I don't rank 'em," he said. "But it is one of the more special ones, without question, that I've been around either as an assistant or as the head coach in my eight years there at Oklahoma."
He talked about the players' work ethic at practice and their ability to do what they had to do off the field.
"It got to be, really during the season, you knew how they were going to play," Stoops said. "I knew what the attitude, when we were getting ready to play, no matter where it was - five out of our last six games have been on the road, we got to a confidence point that I knew they were going to show up. I knew they were going to be competitive."
Oklahoma (11-2) went 7-0 after star running back Adrian Peterson broke his collarbone. Now Peterson is back and adds significantly to the problems Boise State's defense will face.
"He looks great. He's practiced in a great way," Stoops said. "He looks fast. He always looks fast, but I think particularly in that he's fresh."
Boise State's highly productive offense faces an unprecedented challenge in Oklahoma. Petersen said the Broncos won't have the luxury of a lot of time to make a play work.
"The thing that keeps jumping out at me, they don't let you hold the ball," the Broncos coach said. "That's been a big concern of ours through this whole bowl preparation, that you're not going to be able to sit there and look at it very long. If you do, you're going to get sacked. If you do, they're going to close on you and pick it off.
"Like I've been saying all along, the big difference is our margin for error is a lot different than it's been in the past."
In what's been called the biggest game in Idaho sports history, the Broncos are carrying the banner of all teams from non-BCS conferences. They don't want it to be an embarrassing evening in front of a huge national audience. Boise State is at its best, the coach said, when it plays loose.
"We really don't want those kids playing tight," Petersen said, "which is easier said than done with all the cameras around here, the stage they are on. We know that. I think that once they get settled down, they'll get back to playing Bronco football and have a lot of fun doing it."