Ian Johnson won't be around forever, but Boise State's rushing game should be just fine for seasons to come. Friday night at Bulldog Stadium against a rejuvenated Fresno State, freshmen Jeremy Avery and D.J. Harper let the Western Athletic Conference know the next three years should look a lot like the last three.
Each eclipsed the century mark on the ground, Avery with 124 yards and Harper with 153. Between them they combined for all four of the Broncos' touchdowns (Avery three, Harper one). They kept Fresno State's offense off the field with a grinding gameplan that kept the ball with BSU 33 minutes. And they did it with Ian Johnson on the sidelines.
The nation's 18th ground attack did not lose a beat with its usual centerpiece out injured. The cliche "they don't rebuild, they reload," has been used in reference to programs like USC, Texas and Ohio State in recent seasons, but if last night's performance proved nothing else it's that Boise State should be in that conversation.
Avery and Harper are not just the future of this offense, they established themselves as an important present with yet another WAC crown in their sights. Boise State's Bowl Championship Series hopes may seem bleak -- no non-BCS conference team with a loss has ever been invited to one of the big bowls -- but this has been a season for the unprecedented. And a team filled with veteran leadership just might make history with a pair of freshmen playing key roles.