In the much anticipated homecoming of Bryan Harsin as newly made head coach, the Boise State Broncos didn't seem to have the steam to keep up with the Ole Miss Rebels. In what started out as a defensive battle, we later got to see some of the speed of the Ole Miss receivers in the fourth quarter-and it was impressive.
Cody Core, who won a starting job during preseason practice, hauled in a pair of touchdowns which included a 30-yarder in the final minute of the first quarter, then a 76-yarder midway through the fourth quarter after grabbing a short pass on a slant route and breaking free down the middle of the field.
Also in the final period, Bo Wallace went to Laquon Treadwell for a 14-yard touchdown pass and hooked up with Quincy Adeboyejo on a 31-yard scoring play.
It was a game that truly resembled a season opener. Wallace and Grant Hedrick each threw three interceptions in the first half, each having would-be-touchdowns picked off in the end zone. The Broncos also had to endure 23 penalties being called; a lot of false starts, and a couple key penalties on third down from Boise St. It was definitely a learning experience.
Wallace finished the game with 387 yards on 25-36 passing. He threw 4 TDs to go with his three INTs. Coach Freeze was surprised at the Senior's struggle to avoid mistakes.
"I don't know if he was pressing too hard," the coach said. "He wants to do so well and have a great year. ... Obviously, he didn't play his best. But he settled down in the second half and played pretty good."
The interceptions and the penalties certainly exposed some holes in the Rebel's armor. They came in with their highest preseason ranking since 2009 at 18th and only started looking like that team for one quarter. For much of the game Wallace and the offense looked frazzled by a mostly stout Bronco defense. Luckily, the fourth quarter push was enough to pull out a decisive victory.
For the Broncos, it certainly felt like a puzzling defeat. Coming into halftime the scoreboard and entire stat sheet looked like a game that was headed down to the wire, and probably in their favor. Boise St managed to match their SEC superiors play for play and even added some throwback trick plays, reminding us of Harsin's Fiesta Bowl days as the Offensive Coordinator for the dynamite Broncos offenses of just a few years ago.
The first half could be summed up by missed opportunities. Their first successful drive put them all the way to the red zone, ending with an interception that kept the Broncos from putting the first points on the board with 10:42 to play in the first. Down 7-0 with 6:00 play in the Second Quarter, Boise St found themselves at the 1 yard line thanks to Shane Williams-Rhodes catch and diving attempt at the pylon. Ole Miss stood tough and held off three consecutive running attempts, forcing a field goal. If Boise St converts those two red zone opportunities in the first half, we're talking about a completely different game. Just ask Brian Harsin.
"We've got to go back and find a way to get it in," Harsin said. "We worked to get it all the way down there. We've got to punch it in. We were not good enough tonight to get that done."
Boise State's only touchdown of the game came off of an 8 yard pass to Jay Ajayi from Hedrick late in the fourth quarter, but at that point it was too little too late. The Rebels' three fourth quarter touchdowns in less than a five minute span had already sealed their fate.
Grant Hedrick finished 36-46 for 264 yards. Jay Ajayi led all rushers with 86 yards on 20 carries. Ole Miss' receiving duo of Cody Core and Laquon Treadwell amassed 110 and 105 yards, respectively, and combining for 3 of Wallace's for TD passes.
Boise St has their home and conference opener Saturday September 6th versus Colorado State.
Ole Miss opens conference play next saturday as well, at Vanderbilt.