- Associated Press - Friday, November 13, 2015

Somewhere along the way, Boise State was going to need help if it wanted a chance to stay on top of the Mountain West.

That assistance came last week from an unlikely source: New Mexico.

The Lobos’ victory over Utah State last week put the Broncos back in control of the Mountain West Mountain Division and of a spot in the conference title game. But that means the Broncos (7-2, 4-1) can’t afford any slipups over the final three weeks beginning this week with - guess who - New Mexico.

“The mood hasn’t changed from that standpoint because we believed if we keep doing what we’re doing and stick with that mentality we would put ourselves in position to have a chance,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said.. “It’s come a little earlier, but the mindset hasn’t changed. We’re focused on New Mexico. That’s all we can control.”

Boise State needed help after being routed by Utah State. The Broncos rebounded with convincing wins over Wyoming and UNLV before getting a bye last week and a big assist from the improving Lobos.

New Mexico (5-4, 3-2) needs one more win to become bowl eligible and the Lobos haven’t played in a bowl game since 2007. They haven’t played in a bowl game outside the state since 2004. New Mexico doesn’t have the most impressive resume with two of its conference wins by one point, but the Lobos aren’t the pushover they’ve been in the past.

New Mexico also controls its destiny in the Mountain Division. Winning its final three games would land the Lobos in the conference title game.

“We’re a little later into November and even more to play for so from that standpoint it’s exciting,” New Mexico coach Bob Davie said. “We all know what is ahead.”

Here’s what else to watch for as the Broncos host the Lobos:

RIPPIN’ RYPIEN: In his last game, Boise State freshman quarterback Brett Rypien continued his assault on the school’s record book. Rypien threw for a season-best 469 yards in the victory over UNLV, completing 35 passes and hitting 10 different receivers. The 35 completions were third in Boise State history and the 469 yards were the fourth-best in the past 20 seasons. Only Ryan Dinwiddie (twice) and Kellen Moore (once) have had better passing days since 1996.

“I think that his preparation and understanding what we’re trying to accomplish on the play has helped,” Harsin said. “I think the keys that he sees out there that a defense might show, he’s looking for those things. … I think he’s got a good feel.”

KEEPING IT CLOSE: While they haven’t been able to hang around in every game, the Lobos have been good in close games this season.

Aside from their opening win over Mississippi Valley State, three of the Lobos’ other wins have been in question into the fourth quarter. They scored the final nine points in their 38-29 win over New Mexico State, scored with less than a minute remaining to beat Hawaii 28-27 and held on in the fourth quarter to beat Utah State last week.

TWO QBs: The Lobos intend to keep their two-quarterback rotation of Lamar Jordan and Austin Apodaca. Jordan is the dual threat, having rushed for 500 yards and thrown for 696 yards. Apodaca is completing just 50 percent of his passes and last week threw for only 7 yards in limited action against Utah State.

BEST OFF THE BYE: Boise State has won 21 straight games following a week off. The last time the Broncos lost following a break was during the 2000 season - a 42-35 setback to Washington State.

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