By Steve Yanda
Washington Post Staff Writer
Tuesday, September 7, 2010; 1:23 AM
On second and Hallelujah, Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore fired a 13-yard touchdown pass, breathing life into his team's Bowl Championship Series title hopes. The Broncos drove 56 yards in 38 seconds and scored with just more than one minute remaining Monday night against Virginia Tech.
And after holding on for a 33-30 victory, Boise State's path to uncharted territory grew significantly clearer. No team from outside the six conferences that receive automatic BCS berths ever has played for a national championship. But having started the season with a No. 3 ranking and defeated a top 10 opponent, the Broncos can continue to claim such a goal as a viable possibility.
But asked what such a big win meant to his program, Coach Chris Peterson played down the significance.
"It means that we're 1-0. And when we go back to the office, we're going to be 0-0," he said. "And I'd be saying the same thing had we not won. We've just got a long, tough, hard season, and the bull's-eye will continue to grow. It's just going to be one game at a time. I promise you we're going to have some more hard-fought games just like you saw tonight."
Said Moore: "You should gain a little bit of respect beating Virginia Tech out here. You're basically playing a road game and having a heck of a game with them. Just fighting back and forth, I think it was an exciting game for us."
For so long, Boise State fought with all its might to prove its skeptics wrong. But after earning invitations to - and winning - two BCS bowls in the past four seasons, the Broncos turned many of those skeptics into believers.
The Associated Press voted a Boise State squad that went undefeated in 2009 and returned 20 of 22 starters from its Fiesta Bowl victory No. 3 in its preseason top 25 poll. The Broncos' challenge heading into the 2010 campaign was proving all their converts right.
That process began Monday in a matchup with No. 10 Virginia Tech. As they waited for their team's players to pour out of the tunnel and onto the field Monday night, six Virginia Tech cheerleaders held placards that spelled out S-E-I-K-O-H.
Indeed, on a night in which a national darling from a relatively small-time conference out west entered FedEx Field with a higher ranking and loftier expectations than a perennial contender from the ACC, nearly everything seemed backward.
Known for their dynamic rushing attack, their traditionally stingy defense and their solid special teams play, the Hokies proceeded in the first quarter to rush for five yards, give up 17 points and make two special teams gaffes that led to two Boise State touchdowns.
The Broncos, meantime, operated like a team accustomed to the spotlight. After Virginia Tech attempted a flea-flicker on the game's first play from scrimmage, Hokies quarterback Tyrod Taylor fumbled the snap on second down. Boise State recovered and soon had a 3-0 lead.
Boise State trailed by four when it drove downfield late in the fourth quarter. With no margin for error in regards to its BCS hopes, the Broncos needed some of that old magic to sustain its season's purpose.
They got some when Moore found wideout Austin Pettis for the game-winning score. Their march toward history carries forward. But even in victory, the Broncos were modest in their assessment of the meaning.
"All we're worried about is the next game, Wyoming," cornerback Brandyn Thompson said. "We'll go in there, watch some film, correct this game and get ready for the next one."