It was a cold, winter night in Boise, Idaho, and the Broncos experienced something that is becoming more and more normal, disappointment. Boise State and Fresno State took part in another close battle, with the Bulldogs coming away with a 19-16 victory in overtime. I have attended many Boise State games over the last fourteen years, but none quite like this. The elements seemed to favor the Broncos, but the outcome did not. Let’s revisit my keys to the game and see how things played out.
Get to McMaryion early and often:
The passing game favored the Bulldogs. Fresno threw for 170 yards. Not enough to instill fear into your heart, but enough to get the job done in those kind of conditions. McMaryion had plenty of time to throw the ball, and it made an impact on their scoring drives.
Have a balanced attack:
The weather threw this out the window. Rypien was noticeably limited by the conditions, and the Broncos were forced to rely on Mattison and the run game.
Will any injured players return?
Hightower and Nawahine both returned after missing the Utah State game. Rypien tried to take a few shots to Hightower, but a solid Bulldog defense and less than ideal conditions limited his impact. Hightower will likely be a featured receiver next season. This was the year of injuries for the Broncos, especially on the defensive side of the ball. The Broncos were forced to play third string linebackers in overtime.
Force the Bulldogs to have an effective run game:
The Bulldogs once again struggled to run the ball, averaging less than four yards per carry. However, a few nice runs in overtime were enough for them to come away with the victory.
Throw the ball down the field:
They tried, and they failed. Rypien could not connect on any deep passes. Those options were limited by the weather.
Avoid special teams miscues:
It was bound to happen. At some point, the kicking game was going to cost the Broncos. A blocked extra point, yes, you heard me, a blocked extra point cost the Broncos the conference championship. That one play is going to run through the minds of the team and the fans for a long time.
I want to give a special shout out to Alexander Mattison. He carried the ball 40 times for 200 yards. Mattison put the team on his back and did everything in his power to will the team to victory, but it wasn’t enough. It is not very often that a player gets MVP in a losing effort, but Mattison managed to do so.
Vegas Line: Boise State -2. The line started to swing in the Bulldogs favor; it appears they were correct.
My Prediction: Boise State 24- Fresno State 21. The Bulldogs came away with a 19-16 victory. I knew it would be close, just not the final result I expected. Congratulations to Coach Tedford and the Bulldog faithful; enjoy your trip to Las Vegas. At least you won’t have to worry about snow.