LAS VEGAS — Just the Las Vegas Bowl. Just Utah. But good enough.

The Boise State Broncos aren't national champions, they just looked like it a few times during Wednesday night's 26-3 win over Utah.

"We're still one of the best teams in the country," said quarterback Kellen Moore.

While the Broncos dominated Utah in a game that probably wasn't as close as the score indicated, they did a few things to keep themselves from big totals.

That included four fumbles, three of which they lost. They also threw an interception.

But as they built their lead to a safe margin, they settled in defensively, holding the Utes to just 200 yards total offense.

"I've said all along, the defense is the base of that team," said Utah coach Kyle Whittingham.

For much of the year, the Broncos were ranked in the top 5, even climbing to No. 3 in the BSC rankings before losing to Nevada. However, they rebounded to beat Utah State and earn a spot in the Las Vegas Bowl.

"If Auburn or Oregon State stumbles, they're in the national championship," said Whittingham.

Broncos' coach Chis Petersen said 10-3 Utah was a worthy opponent to his 12-1 team, but admitted that playing with backup quarterback Terrance Cain was a challenge for the Utes.

"I know it's hard playing with your backup," he said. "It affects your rhythm. It does."

Petersen went on to say the teams "played hard and very inspired."

Regarding the combined seven fumbles and one interception, Moore was unsure of the reason.

"I don't know, missed opportunities," he said. "We had some, they had some. That's how it went. There were plenty of opportunities on both sides."

Petersen added that BSU's relative low point total was "a little bit being a bowl game, a little bit rhythm."

BSU averaged 46.7 points this year.

"Boise State is a heck of a football team," Utah coach Kyle Whittingham said.

Utah's bowl roll comes to an end

The Utes' run of nine consecutive bowl wins came to an end with Wednesday's 26-3 loss to Boise State in MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Utah's streak matched USC (1923-45) for the second longest in history, trailing only Florida State's run of 11 from 1985-96.

Year. . .Bowl. . .Opponent. . .Outcome

1999 Las Vegas Fresno State Won, 17-16

2001 Las Vegas USC Won, 10-6

2003 Liberty Southern Miss Won, 17-0

2005* Fiesta Pittsburgh Won, 35-7

2005 Emerald Georgia Tech Won, 38-10

2006 Armed Forces Tulsa Won, 25-13

2007 Poinsettia Navy Won, 35-32

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2009* Sugar Alabama Won, 31-17

2009 Poinsettia California Won, 37-27

*Games played in January

e-mail: rock@desnews.com