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November 1, 2009BOISE, Idaho (AP) Boise State's defense is back to being a bunch of pickpockets.
The Broncos have forced eight turnovers in the last two games, and most of those have helped the offense score points in bunches and put opponents away by halftime.
Two weeks ago against Hawaii, Boise State intercepted three passes and forced three fumbles, turnovers that the offense used to put up 30 points en route to a 54-9 road win.
The defense struck again with two swipes Saturday, and in a seven-minute span the Broncos (8-0, 3-0 WAC) scored 28 points in a 45-7 win over San Jose State.
The blowout coupled with some losses by higher ranked teams lifted the Broncos to No. 5 in the AP poll Sunday, one slot behind Cincinnati and one ahead of TCU, the other undefeated team from a conference that doesn't get an automatic BCS bid.
The recent flurry came after Boise State coaches began focusing on takeaways two weeks ago, when the team had gone two straight games without one.
"The coaches are harping on that in practice and turnovers have been a point of emphasis," said cornerback Kyle Wilson, who returned an interception 27 yards for a touchdown Saturday. "Any little detail the coaches focus on in practice, it shows up in the game. We definitely got challenged a couple of weeks ago, and we're stepping up to it."
The Broncos' success the last two weeks has padded its rankings nationally. Overall, Boise State has six fumbles, 13 interceptions and a 1.25 turnover margin, fifth best in the nation behind Rutgers, Air Force, Cincinnati and Notre Dame.
The takeway ratio is helped by the Broncos' mistake-free offense, led by [dKellen Moore[/db], who has 25 touchdown passes and just two interceptions. Despite more than a dozen muffed snaps this season, the Broncos have only allowed opponents to come away with seven fumble recoveries.
Against the Spartans (1-6, 0-3), Boise State capitalized on turnovers to quickly put a close game out of reach.
In the last minute of the first half, Moore put Boise State up 17-7 with an 18-yard TD to Mitch Burroughs. One play after the ensuing kick, Bronco safety Jason Robinson jolted the ball loose from Spartan running back Lamon Muldrow and recovered it at the Spartan 22. Four plays later, Moore scored on a 1-yard dive with 3 seconds left, putting Boise State up 24-7 and spoiling what had been an impressive first-half performance by the Spartan defense.
"The longer you let somebody hang around, the tighter the game gets," said Bronco coach Chris Petersen. "I think it's a good lesson for us. There's still a lot left on that scoreboard even if there's not much time left. We'll learn from that as well."
On their first drive of the third quarter, Moore marched the Broncos 62 yards in eight plays, capped by an 8-yard TD pass to Austin Pettis.
Wilson struck on the Spartans' next possession, stepping in front of Jorda LaSecla's pass and returning it to the end zone to put the Broncos in front 38-7 a little more than 5 minutes into the third quarter.
For San Jose State, it was yet another frustrating defeat to a team it's never beaten.
Despite holding a potent Broncos ground game to just eight rushing yards in the first half and 140 overall, the Spartans' offense failed to sustain drives and answer Bronco scores.
San Jose State had 223 total yards and was penalized 10 times for 87 yards.
"We did some good things," coach Dick Tomey said. "But when you're that close to having a football game ... where you're right in it and you just need to give yourself a chance to come out in the second half and be in a competitive game, we robbed ourselves of that chance."