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You dont need the drivers untill after windows has been installed....However... If windows does not pick your network adapter up, you will need to load these before you can get online.
Download all the drivers for the motherboard and just Burn them onto a cd as a data disc, so you have them ready
Whenever changing out a MB, you run the risk of having to do a complete re-install of Windows. A few caveats: If you choose a MB with exactly the same chipset and integrated peripherals, then you may only need to update a few drivers. Sometimes a repair install will do the trick, but there's no way to know until you complete the upgrade.
I absolutely agree with your idea to clone your boot partition to another drive if possible, then use the cloned drive to test the move to the new MB and see what hurdles you encounter.
Best suggestion is exact model replacement of the MB in question. Check Pricewatch.com