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MAACO Bowl gives Boise State, ASU singular focus

OSKAR GARCIA
Associated Press

LAS VEGAS (AP) – The MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas wasn’t the send-off No. 8 Boise State originally imagined for Kellen Moore, college football’s winningest quarterback.

But coach Chris Petersen said the Broncos aren’t thinking about those expectations, their opinions of the BCS or a pending move to the Big East in 2013 as they prepare to play Arizona State on Thursday night.

“We’re all about this game,” Petersen told reporters Wednesday before a luncheon in advance of the game. “We’ve kind of preached to our guys about living in the moment, and living day to day, so that’s just kind of how we think as coaches.”

Arizona State is taking the same approach after a season where both teams expected to finish by playing in a bigger bowl.

Finishing 6-6 with a four-game losing streak cost Sun Devils coach Dennis Erickson his job, though he stayed on to coach his team in its first postseason appearance since 2007.

He said the prospect of being out at ASU won’t fully hit him until after the game.

“That’s all I’ve ever done,” Erickson said of being involved in football. “I couldn’t make any decisions on anything right now.”

At the luncheon, Erickson stifled tears as he reflected on his career and introduced his family, including his 87-year-old mother – whom he said talked to him weekly after watching his games.

“Believe me, the last moth of the season wasn’t very much fun,” Erickson said.

ASU quarterback Brock Osweiler said his team practiced and studied just as it had when it was winning earlier this year, but didn’t get the results the players wanted.

“I don’t really know what happened,” he said. “We’ve tried to put a finger on it over these last couple weeks but we really can’t.”

Boise State, which finished 11-1 and seventh in the BCS standings, missed a bid to a larger bowl for the fourth time after being ranked among the BCS’ top 10.

But Moore said that’s out of his mind and the minds of his teammates.

“No issue. We’re over that whole deal,” he said. “We’re playing a very talented team from the Pac-12 and we’re very excited.”

A win Thursday night would give Moore and his fellow Broncos seniors 50 wins as a class, the most for any Boise State class.

“Certainly, that’s a good-looking number,” Moore said. “That’d be something I think a lot of us would be very proud of.”

Osweiler said a win against the heavily favored Broncos – experts in Sin City sports books say Boise State should win by about two touchdowns – will propel the team toward next year and provide motivation for when players are working to get better without playing games. He said that’s what happened last year when his team beat Arizona to end the year.

“If we can go out there and get a win, I think it would do the same going forward,” he said.

But some players, like Las Vegas native and Broncos defensive tackle Billy Winn, are taking Petersen’s advice and sticking with seeing the game as a singular moment.

“I’ve got probably 40 to 50 people coming to this game. This is my gift to them – being able to play in front of them,” Winn said. “Just having that moral support from my family – that’s the biggest thing.”

Oskar Garcia can be reached on Twitter at http://twitter.com/oskargarcia .

Associated Press writer Todd Dvorak in Boise, Idaho, contributed to this report.