You know how the saying goes. There are no moral victories in football.
But for San Jose State, this sure felt like one.
The Spartans ultimately dropped to 4-5 (1-4 in Mountain West play) after a 52-42 loss to Boise State Saturday night. Before the season, that score would appear to be shockingly close. Maybe it still it. But if there’s one major takeaway from this one, it’s that SJSU can compete with anyone in the conference.
The Broncos didn’t take their first lead until late in the third quarter. Freshman phenom quarterback Hank Bachmeier had his worst statistical performance of the season (13/17 for 213 yards and a pick), while Josh Love perhaps had his best (19-53 for 438 yards, two touchdowns and an interception).
Boise State didn’t have to rely on the freshman, however. They ran all over the Spartans. The one-two punch of George Holani and Andrew Van Buren combined for over 200 yards. Holani himself accounted for 126 and four touchdowns.
A big factor for that stat line? Jesse Osuna. Again.
The senior lasted less than five minutes. He was serving a suspension in the first half for a targeting penalty occurring in the second half of last week’s Army game. He returned in the second half against BSU, but was quickly ejected after yet another head-to-head hit. It’s the third targeting penalty called on Osuna this season, and as a result he’ll be serving a one-game suspension next week at Hawai’i.
That is unacceptable.
So in a nutshell, the Spartans fell short. Their pass defense was excellent once again, but the run defense was flat and thus allowed a 21-point fourth quarter for the Broncos to mount the comeback. But let’s look at the positives for SJSU, shall we?
They hung in with the big dogs. It was their first matchup with a ranked opponent all season. At the start of the season, if you offered SJSU a 10-point loss to Boise State, they’d take that all day.
This team is a night and day difference from last season. Brent Brennan is building something at SJSU, and that becomes more evident each week.
A bowl appearance might be a stretch this season. They’re going to need to win at least two of the final three games: @Hawai’i, @UNLV, and vs. Fresno State. And that’s just to become eligible. As Wyoming fans experienced last season, 6-wins is no guarantee. A win Saturday likely would've punched the Spartans ticket to a bowl in December.
But alas, it’s a big step in the right direction. So if you're a Spartan fan, enjoy these last few games. Enjoy watching Josh Love finish his SJSU career. Enjoy watching Ethan Aguayo make seemingly every tackle. Enjoy Bailey Gaither and Tre Walker tear up defenses every week.
The Spartans might just be here to stay.