HONOLULU — The tonic for what ailed Boise State’s offense lied nearly 3,000 miles away in the form of Hawaii’s defense.
Entering Saturday’s game at Aloha Stadium, the Broncos, coming off a loss, were 66th in the country, right behind Akron, scoring 27 points per game.
They had that in 22 minutes, on the way to a 49-14 rout of Hawaii that was days in the making.
“We responded well,” Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “… Shoot, we had a real physical practice Tuesday. Sometimes it’s hard this late in the season to go that hard in practice — certainly coming off a loss. They’ve been doing a great job all week.”
Boise State (8-3, 5-1 MWC) chewed up 411 yards of offense, 297 by halftime.
Though it was against a Hawaii (1-8, 0-6) defense that has yielded the second-most points of any FBS team this season, it was therapeutic for an offense that felt it was consistently on the cusp of a performance like Saturday’s.
“I think really, it’s something that we really needed to get done, get our confidence up,” receiver Aaron Burks said. “I feel like now we can open it up.”
After having two touchdown passes in his previous four games, Boise State quarterback Joe Southwick had three Saturday, completing 17-of-29 passes for 209 yards.
Southwick’s first touchdown strike was a 3-yarder to Matt Miller with 5 minutes, 17 seconds to go in the first quarter which put Boise State up 14-7, a lead it easily held onto the rest of the way. Southwick also found Burks (on a 46-yarder) and Holden Huff (10 yards) for touchdowns.
“It’s been a long time coming, but I think he was turning it over nicely on the deep ball,” Petersen said. “When you can do that, you can almost see it leave his hand and you know that the receiver’s going to have a chance to really make a play. A couple of those came off real well.”
Burks was the favorite target on the day for Southwick and backup Grant Hedrick, as he had team-highs with five catches and 107 yards. Burks, a junior, previously had two games with three catches, but none with more, and the touchdown was his first. It was the first 100-yard receiving game of the season for a Bronco.
“All year, I know he’s had that in him,” Southwick said. “To have him go out there and make those plays is great.”
The Broncos, for the second straight game, found little going in the second half — they had 100 yards in the final two quarters Nov. 3 in a 21-19 loss to San Diego State, and 114 Saturday.
It didn’t matter much, however, as the Broncos’ defense again did its part.
Boise State allowed just one offensive touchdown — which came with 5:35 to play, with Hawaii’s only other score coming on a 100-yard kickoff return in the first quarter.
Four defenders got sacks, led by Sam Ukwuachu and Tyler Horn, who had two apiece. Boise State’s six sacks were the most since racking up six in last season’s opener against Georgia.
“Coming into the game, we knew we had to get pressure on the quarterback,” Ukwuachu said. “That was our main goal for the game.”
The Broncos yielded 240 yards, and the defensive scored as many points as the Warriors’ offense when Demarcus Lawrence ran a fumble back 25 yards for a touchdown with 6:37 left in the third quarter to make it 42-7. Hawaii’s minus-14 yards rushing were the Warriors’ worst in the modern era and the sixth-fewest ever against a Boise State defense.
“You can’t become one dimensional,” Hawaii coach Norm Chow said. “When you fall behind you have to become one dimensional.”
After a confidence-building win on Oahu, the Broncos return for their home finale Saturday against Colorado State, where they hope to keep rolling on senior day.
“Definitely gives us more confidence going into next week — we play Colorado State, a game where we have something to prove again,” Ukwuachu said. “People don’t respect us like they used to. We have a chip on our shoulder, we have to come in this (next) week and have a good week of practice.”