FRESNO -- Sometimes lofty ambitions set up long and hard falls.
Fresno State spoke about contending for a Western Athletic Conference title. But such a goal appears too grand. Though not eliminated from the title hunt, Fresno State no longer controls its own destiny.
Five-time WAC champion Boise State put Fresno State in its place Friday night -- behind the Broncos, as in most years -- after locking up a 34-21 victory.
Many from the near-sellout crowd of 40,607 at Bulldog Stadium likely left thinking "not again" as Fresno State (5-3 overall, 4-1 WAC) dropped its first game in WAC play and ended a four-game win streak.
"I think we're closing the gap," Fresno State coach Pat Hill said. "But we're not there yet."
The Bulldogs never got their vaunted running game going against what appeared to be a susceptible Broncos' run defense. Fresno State finished with 89 rushing yards, its second-worst total of the year.
"They weren't going to out-tough us," Boise State safety Marty Tadman said. "We out-toughed them."
The Bulldogs' passing game rarely clicked, especially when forced to throw and with Fresno State trailing by large margins. Boise State led from the 10:40 mark in the second quarter on, and by as many as 17 points.
Fresno State converted just one of 13 third downs.
"We kept making mistakes," Fresno State quarterback Tom Brandstater said. "I don't really have a reason why."
Brandstater, a Turlock High graduate, completed 21 of 39 passes for 263 yards and one TD -- 21 yards to Marion Moore.
The Broncos stampeded the Bulldogs' defense for 282 rushing yards, and demoralized the unit with several big plays on third downs. Boise State converted 10 of 18 third downs.
"It's just very frustrating," Fresno State linebacker Marcus Riley said, "getting them in so many third downs and not being able to make the plays."
Boise State has won 43 of its past 44 WAC games.
Said Hill, "I just wish we could have given (the fans) something special. Tip my hat off to Boise. Just got to wait another year now."