CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Forget the score, No. 5 Boise State dominates No. 19 Georgia

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ATLANTA -- No surprises here, folks.

Boise State, the nation's No. 5 team and winners of 52 of their past 54 college football games, flew across the country for the second straight year and opened the season in a building that was 90 percent behind its opponent.

And it didn't matter.

It didn't matter that the No. 19 Georgia Bulldogs were playing 75 miles from their campus.

It didn't matter that there were only a few, small, noisy patches of blue amid a vast sea of red at the Georgia Dome.

It didn't matter that Georgia had fancy new uniforms that made them look more like the Power Rangers than a contender for the SEC East championship.

It didn't matter that Georgia is from the SEC, winners of five consecutive BCS titles.

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None of that mattered. Because when the game started, Boise State was the better team, the more resourceful team, and yes, the more physical team. Chris Petersen's Broncos were not the least bit intimidated by their surroundings.

"The fact is that our kids are now comfortable on this kind of stage," Petersen said. "They don't get to play on this kind of stage every day."

The final was 35-21 but that score doesn't begin to convey what really took place here. Boise State led 28-7 going into the fourth quarter and it could have been worse. Georgia got its first scoring play, which came on an 80-yard run from a guy (Brandon Boykin), who normally plays defensive back, to take a 7-0 lead. After that Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore calmly regrouped his team and began to simply slice and dice the Georgia defense like they were somebody out of ... well ... the WAC.

"They just beat us tonight. They were better than we were," Georgia coach Mark Richt said.

Yes, they were. Actually, they were a lot better. Actually, Boise State pretty much kicked Georgia's butt in front of the home folks who got out of the Georgia Dome pretty quickly.

Boise State was really good and nobody was better than Moore, who completed 28 of 34 passes for 261 yards and three touchdowns with no sacks.

Boise State vs. BCS teams
since 2007 Fiesta Bowl
Date Opponent Result
9-3-11 vs. Georgia W, 35-21
9-25-10 Oregon State W, 37-24
9-6-10 vs. Va. Tech W, 33-30
9-3-09 Oregon W, 19-8
9-20-08 at Oregon W, 37-32
9-8-07 at Washington L, 24-10
1-1-07 Oklahoma* W, 43-42
* - Double OT win in Fiesta Bowl

"You grow up watching the SEC and you certainly respect all the success that they've had," said Moore, who is now a remarkable 39-2 as a starting quarterback. "We just appreciate the opportunity. It was an incredible environment."

And here is the scary thing to consider if you happen to have Boise State on your schedule. As good as Moore and the offense were, even without the two best receivers in school history, the defense was even better. The Boise State defense has never gotten its due because the offense is so impressive.

But remember that the Broncos finished in the top seven in every major defensive category in the nation last season. But on this night, Boise State's defensive line simply dominated Georgia up front. Take away the 80 yards rushing Georgia got on one play and the Broncos held the Bulldogs to only 57 yards in 30 carries.

By the time the second half rolled around, Georgia had completely given up on the run which allowed Boise to tee off on Aaron Murray, considered to be the SEC's quarterback, and make his life miserable. He was sacked six times, all coming on third-down plays.

"We can't start slow and come on hot big games like this," said Murray, who threw for 239 and two touchdowns, both in the second half. "We have to put this behind us."

So as the proceedings came to close in downtown Atlanta late Saturday night, we were left to ponder a couple of burning questions:

No. 1: Is this the year when the voters will stop obsessing over the name on the jersey and finally give Boise State a shot at the brass ring?

No. 2: After watching their team get manhandled in their own back yard, what is the mood going to be like next Saturday when No. 12 South Carolina comes to Athens? And if Georgia starts 0-2, is Richt in trouble?

Let's take the first question. Boise State, in its first season as a member of the Mountain West Conference, appears to have all of the tough games at home. Air Force and TCU have to play on the blue turf. And TCU, the reigning champion, just got beat by Baylor.

So if you're betting man, you have to like Boise's chances to run the table. That would be its third undefeated season in five years. The Broncos have yet to get a sniff at a BCS championship game. Could this year be different? The fact is that if there are undefeated teams from the SEC, Big 12, or Big Ten, they go ahead of Boise. If the ACC, Big East, and Pac-10 champs go undefeated, there will be an argument.

But I'll tell you this: As long as Moore stays vertical, the team I saw Saturday night is capable of beating anybody in any of those conferences on a given night.

Now for Georgia. In 2008, Georgia was the preseason No. 1 team in the nation. That team went 10-3. In 2009 the Bulldogs were 8-5 and last season they were 6-7, losing to UCF in the Liberty Bowl.

Changes were made. New athletics director Greg McGarity, who came in a year ago, told Richt in the offseason that he was taking everything off his desk that didn't have anything to do with winning football games. Richt installed a new strength and conditioning program, firing one of his best friends in the process. This game was supposed to put Georgia back on a national stage. It did not. That is a fact.

Here is another fact. From 2002-08, Richt was 24-11 against ranked teams. Since then he is 2-9.

Here is yet another fact. In a building where the chants are usually "SEC! ... SEC!" the evening closed with the chants of "Boise State! Boise State! Boise State!" That's because the little team from Idaho had just walked into the house of one of the big boys marched out with yet another piece of hardware.

The Tony Barnhart Show returns on Wednesday at 9 p.m. on The CBS Sports Network.


Tony Barnhart is in his fifth season as a contributor to CBSSports.com. He is a college football analyst for CBS Sports and The CBS Sports Network. Prior to joining CBS he was the national college football writer for the Atlanta Journal-Constitution for 24 years. He has written five books on college football.
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