By JASON CHATRAW
BOISE, Idaho (AP) — Taylen Green threw four touchdown passes and rushed for another, Boise State’s defense intercepted two passes in the fourth quarter, and the Broncos staved off a late rally to defeat Utah State 42-23 on Friday afternoon.
Boise State (9-3, 8-0), which finished undefeated in conference play for the third time in four years, will host Fresno State in the Mountain West Conference championship game on Dec. 3.
Utah State (6-6, 5-3) has lost 19 of the last 20 games against Boise State, last winning in Boise in 1996.
Second-year Boise State coach Andy Avalos, whose Broncos defeated an injury-depleted Fresno State team earlier this season 40-20, knows his team will need to be sharper to win his first Mountain West title.
“There’s stuff on this film that we’re going to need to be better at next week,” Avalos said. “But we’re proud of the guys the way they go out there and compete, and their eagerness to come back in here to learn.”
Despite the lopsided final score, the Aggies had a chance to steal the game, driving to the Boise State 11 with less than two minutes to go before the wheels came off.
Cooper Legas, who finished 23 of 40 passing for 306 yards and rushed for 51 more, rallied Utah State to within 28-23 before throwing a pair of interceptions in the game’s final 1:28, including a pick six.
“If you go back and watch the tape, you’re going to see true freshmen who’ve never played before, walk-ons, scout team players, never played before triple back-ups,” Utah State coach Blake Anderson said. “It got better as the game went on, and we made a game of it and had a chance to win it. That’s what I’ll remember.”
Green, who completed 14-of-23 passes for 224 yards, iced the game for the Broncos with a 91-yard scoring run with 1:09 remaining, the longest scoring run from scrimmage in school history.
Seyi Oladipo intercepted Legas’s final pass and returned it 48 yards for a touchdown with 31 seconds left.
George Holani added 82 yards on the ground for Boise State. Calvin Tyler Jr. led Utah State with 65 yards rushing.
Utah State: The Aggies finished third in the Mountain West’s Mountain Division, exactly where they were picked to finish. Considering they lost senior starting quarterback Logan Bonner to injury midway through the season, winning three of their final four games to get bowl eligible will bode well for Anderson next season, his third season at the helm of the program.
Boise State: It’s no secret that the midseason hiring of former NFL and Boise State coach Dirk Koetter as offensive coordinator sparked the Broncos’ offensive turnaround. In the offseason, Avalos must find a replacement for Koetter, who stated he was only taking the position in an interim capacity.
However, Avalos shouldn’t have a shortage of eager candidates with the return of emerging stars quarterback Taylen Green and running back Ashton Jeanty.
Utah State is bowl eligible and will await its bid to learn of its next opponent.
Boise State will host Fresno State on Saturday, Dec. 3, in the Mountain West Conference championship game.
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