CFN Bowl Analysis ... Las Vegas
Boise State 26 ... Utah 3
It's okay, America. You can like Boise State again.
Go back and trace what happened over the last 50 weeks. With almost everyone returning from an unbeaten team, Boise State was the red-hot, it's-time-to-give-them-a-shot team going into the offseason, it did everything it was asked to do for the first ten weeks, and everyone got scared of the idea of (gasp!) a team from the WAC playing in their national championship.
One road loss to an eventual 12-1 and nationally-ranked Nevada team later, and the Broncos were punished for taking up everyone's time and energy by being forced to go through the motions against a Utah team that apparently spent more time trying to come up with witty tweets (or twitty wheats, if you try saying that quickly like I did on a radio appearance) than it did on trying to play well. Yeah, Boise State is good, really good, but it also helped that the Utes were miserably inept after the first few minutes.
Utah showed the potential that was there with several nice plays getting called back thanks to moronic penalties. The Utes committed ten costly sins for 83 yards, had several dropped passes, and turned the ball over three times. The pass protection was a rumor, QB Terrance Cain looked lost and unable to do much of anything under pressure, especially on third downs with the team converting 2-of-13 chances, and the 200 yards of total offense didn't help.
The problem for Boise State is that Utah was so bad and so sloppy that it'll be hard to give the real credit where credit is due. The Broncos might not have deserved to be in the BCS Championship if it had beaten Nevada, but they were one of the top five teams in America all season long and they're being treated like they were Idaho. Really, it's fine to admit that this really was a great team; your BCS Championship is safe.
And now it'll be interesting to see what will happen next. With eight players on offense and seven defenders coming back, the new Mountain West star should be put in the preseason top ten, but we all know what's coming.
Boise State will win the opener at Georgia, it'll start to roll again through yet another regular season, and we'll all wonder debate about whether or not the team deserves to get more money from a real bowl game again. Eventually, everything will come together for the Broncos to get a real, live shot again in a real bowl, and people will continue to scream and whine about schedules and the worthiness to play for it all. For now, though, just accept that Boise State should've been in a BCS game, wasn't, and now the apologies will follow.
- Utah QB Terrance Cain never had a chance, but he didn't get any help whatsoever from his receivers who kept screwing up and didn't make enough plays.
- What happened to the Utah running game? The Boise State run defense might be special, but the Utes just gave up when it came to trying to pound away. Running backs Eddie Wide and Matt Asiata ran an inexcusable 11 times.
- It should've been uglier. Utah might have screwed up too much and the offense went nowhere, but Boise State made mistakes, too, with four turnovers and with missed plays in the end zone. If the Broncos had to try, and were sharper, this would've been a 47-3 win.
- Kellen Moore might be a Heisman finalist and a national star, but the passing game was as good as it was partly because Austin Pettis and Titus Young were fantastic receivers who won't easily be replaced.
- The beleaguered Boise State kicker, Kyle Brotzman, dropped almost certain touchdown by dropping the ball on a trick pass, but he nailed two field goals. The senior closed out his career with more points than anyone in FBS history.
I long for the days when Boise State isn't the favorite in a bowl game.
For the second straight year, fans were deprived an opportunity to see the Broncos do what they do best, play giant killer. Sure, those are the breaks when you lose at Nevada late in November, squandering an opportunity to play in a second straight BCS bowl game. However, much like a year ago, something was missing, a hollow feeling when the Broncs took the field. Boise State facing a marginal Utah team in Las Vegas? That's like squandering a day off by spending it with nosy neighbors. The program was much better than this game, warranting a higher-profile crack at a higher ranked opponent. Instead, it was hardly challenged by a sloppy and ill-prepared Ute team. Too bad for the Broncos. Too bad for all of us.
- No quarterback in America works the seams of a defense better than Boise State's Kellen Moore. Throwing with laser-like accuracy, has he missed a receiver down the middle of the field all year? If so, I didn't see it.
- To have any shot in this one, the Utes needed Jordan Wynn, who's out with a shoulder injury. Terrance Cain presented no passing threat to a Bronco defense that doesn't readily get fooled by one-dimensional attacks.
- While Moore had the better numbers in Las Vegas, RB Doug Martin deserves the game ball. Utah looked feisty and was shutting out Boise State until the junior popped off an 84-yard touchdown run midway through the second quarter. The Utes were never the same after that point.
By Matt Zemek
For roughly 20 minutes, Boise State did something all too human at the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl: It felt the weight and sadness of being relegated to a dumpy pre-Christmas bowl game far below its stature. Oh, it's fair to say that Boise State shouldn't have been allowed entry into a BCS bowl (although a fairer college football bowl system would eliminate conference tie-ins and allow Michigan State or Boise to play in such a game instead of Connecticut). However, the larger point is that college football's bowl structure should not confine a team like Boise State to a fourth-tier matchup against a not-ready-for-prime-time team from the University of Utah.
If the sport of college football really wanted to make its bowl system (and season) attractive, it would eliminate all conference-based lock-ins regarding bowl matchups, and it would also strike down the automatic-qualifying provision for conference champions relative to BCS bowl games. In a fairer and better bowl system, Boise State wouldn't have played in a BCS bowl (Michigan State would have gained that deserved honor), but the Broncos would have been able to play LSU in the Cotton Bowl or Texas A&M in the Holiday Bowl. Those are just two examples of a world in which the sport simply sought the best matchups and made them happen. Really – does life need to be so complicated? This Vegas dud was far below Boise's interest level, and nobody won as a result. This wasn't a bowl game that Bill Hancock or any Boise player will remember for a lifetime. It was an example of just how flawed this bowl system really is.
--This rule change has been proposed before, but it needs to be proposed again until college football's power brokers act on it: If a fumble goes out of the end zone – as was the case in this game – the fumbling team should indeed be penalized for being careless with the ball so close to the goal line. However, the defensive team did not recover the fumble, and it allowed its opponent to run to the 1 (or close to it). Therefore, instead of giving the defensive team a big Christmas present called a touchback and a drive start at the 20, why not give the defensive team the ball at its own 1? It's so sensible; that's exactly why it's never happened. Maybe college football will surprise us all and do the right thing in the offseason at rules committee meetings (but we're not holding our breath).
--Utah coach Kyle Whittingham attempted a field goal when trailing by 20 points in the second half. Mr. Whittingham, a memo: A field goal in a 20-point game leaves your team trailing by 17 points, or three scores. You did something similarly lame against TCU. What gives? Where is the superior level of coaching you displayed in 2008?
-- Just remember: A program/school cannot be considered a member of college football's power establishment, its elite ruling class, if it gets relegated to the Las Vegas Bowl. Maybe Pat Forde will avoid an overly noticeable pet term next season, and maybe America can learn to value Boise State University football instead of being turned off by the Broncos.