LAS CRUCES, N.M. -- A big offensive performance. A shutout by the defense. A punt return for a touchdown.
Boise State is getting better. Even coach Chris Petersen agrees.
Kellen Moore threw for 246 yards and three touchdowns, and Boise State's defense allowed just 150 yards and had six sacks as the No. 11 Broncos beat New Mexico State 49-0 Saturday night.
"I think there's improvement. I definitely feel that," Petersen said. "We're still not there but we are getting better."
Boise State (8-0, 4-0 Western Athletic Conference) beat the Aggies 58-0 last season in Idaho and, after generating 495 total yards this time, simply kept things going a year later.
Kyle Wilson had a 71-yard punt return for a TD.
It was enough to convince Petersen that the Broncos are doing the right things. But what about Boise State's chances at breaking into the BCS bowls for the second time in three seasons?
On that point, Petersen remains unconvinced.
"We've got a long way to go," he said. "We've just got to get a lot better ourselves before we worry about any of that stuff. And we're getting better but this will be a tough road the next four weeks."
The injury-depleted Aggies (3-5, 1-3) were overmatched from the start, and coach Hal Mumme had no problem admitting it.
"We knew we couldn't handle those guys," he said. "They're too good. If we're at full speed and had everybody, we might have been able to make it a game. But they're a very talented group."
Moore, a redshirt freshman, put Boise State up 7-0 on a 14-yard throw to Jeremy Childs midway through the first period. But he said he'll learn more from an interception he threw on the next series.
"That was bad," Moore said. "It just comes down to fundamentals of being a quarterback. It comes down to stepping and throwing. That was just a bad ball on my part, 100 percent on me."
Wilson's interception set up Johnson's 11-yard TD burst, where he broke through three tacklers and dove into the end zone.
Moore played three quarters, completing 15 of 23 with one interception.
The Broncos weren't perfect. Julian Hawkins fumbled inside NMSU's 20 when the Broncos seemed ready to extend their 28-0 lead. There was a missed 41-yard field-goal attempt by Kyle Brotzman and a flurry of penalties -- 11 for 90 yards.
It didn't matter.
With New Mexico State's defense missing tackle after tackle and a revamped offensive line unable to generate a ground game or protect quarterback Chase Holbrook, it was easy for Boise State on both sides of the ball.
"The plan was to run the ball for two quarters at them," Mumme said. "We were going to shorten the game a bit and keep the heat off Chase, but the early turnovers took us out of it."
Holbrook was 12-of-20 for just 64 yards passing with one interception.
It turned comical in the third quarter, when the Aggies gave the ball up on downs by running a fake punt deep in their own territory. At least Donavan Roberts completed his pass to punter Kyle Hughes for a 9-yard gain.
Boise State took over at NMSU's 23 and two plays later Moore found Childs on a 29-yard pass for a 35-0 lead early in the second half.
"When the defense gives you the momentum, when they stop the other team and give you a short field, you've got shorter drives, quick bursts to get you on the board," Moore said.
USC athletic director Pat Haden spoke Tuesday about the decision to fire head coach Steve Sarkisian, calling it "very difficult," while also defending his handling of the situation.
Steve Sarkisian has been plagued of late by apparent substance-related circumstances, including arriving to team facilities appearing intoxicated Sunday, according to sources.
Steve Spurrier, the visor-slinging, slick-talking "Head Ball Coach" who is the second-winningest coach in Southeastern Conference history, announced his resignation on Tuesday.
Florida Gators quarterback Will Grier has been suspended for the year after testing positive for a performance-enhancing substance found in a supplement, coach Jim McElwain announced Monday.
Tennessee defensive tackle Shy Tuttle will miss the rest of the season with a broken fibula and torn ankle ligament.
Former NFL safety Tyler Sash died from an accidental overdose after mixing two powerful pain medications, and a history of injuries was a contributing factor, a medical examiner said.