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Saturday Morning Quarterback
Jan 09, 2007 12:00 am
Understand that many of you missed the late-night ending to the Fiesta Bowl (I'm not referring to Tostitos until the chip company pays me or this newspaper) Monday night.
Like the Titans after the three other teams who needed to lose last Sunday did so, making their own defeat the one which kept them out of the playoffs, you've probably been kicking yourself for it.
The late-night finish is the reason college football pooh bas changed some of the clock rules to shorten the games. They missed the most obvious way: Make the TV network start the game earlier and run fewer commercials. But as long as TV bling goes cha-ching for the bowls and colleges, it'll never happen.
Anyway, back to the main topic. As a mid-major graduate (MTSU), I was rooting for the underdog Boise State to at the least earn some respect against big, bad, old-guard Oklahoma. I suspect most everybody outside the Sooner Nation and Big 12 country was doing likewise. Of course, had the Broncos been playing Tennessee, it wouldn't have been such a feel-good story around here. Then again, the lackluster way the Vols played against Penn State, Boise may not have given up such a big lead.
A little background. While Bud Wilkinson was building the Sooners into a national power in the years after World War II, Boise State was starting a football program on the junior college level. As Barry Switzer (who couldn't help but root for the Sooners even in his role as a Fox analyst during the game) was winning more championships with the wishbone and players who often skirted the law (Miami before its time), Boise was becoming a four-year program on the I-AA level. In fact, MTSU went to the Idaho capital for a playoff game in 1990, losing to the Broncos on their blue turf.
Moving to I-A a decade ago, Boise joined the Western Athletic Conference and while Bob Stoops was restoring the winning ways in Norman, Okla., the Broncos were playing in bowl games, albeit the minor ones no out outside the teams involved were interested in. They were locked out of the big BCS games.
But the BCS expanded its pool of possible teams a couple of years ago to allow teams outside the power conferences an opportunity to play on or after New Years Day. Utah made it a couple of years ago and now Boise State made it to the Fiesta Bowl with an undefeated record but as a heavy underdog against the mighty Sooners.
Instead of playing not to lose, Boise State hit Oklahoma in the mouth, especially when the Sooners lowered their guard and dared the Broncos with two turnovers.
But trailing 28-10, the Sooners showed their championship mettle by rallying while Boise State seemed to go conservative on offense in the fourth quarter.
The game seemed to be heading to overtime when the Sooners returned an interception for a touchdown with just under a minute to play. This was horribly cruel. Boise played too well for too long to lose this way.
The Broncos agreed because on a fourth-down hook-and-ladder play, Boise gave life to all the mid-major underdogs who dream of playing with the big boys but are often shut out by the system.
Oklahoma scored all too easily on the first play of overtime against a tiring defense. But Boise answered with a touchdown on a wide-receiver pass, also on fourth down, leaving the Broncos an extra point from forcing a second overtime.
But Coach Chris Petersen, realizing his defense was too tired to keep going, rolled the dice and, on a masterful bit of deception by quarterback Jared Zabransky, running back Ian Johnson scored the winning two-point conversion.
David's stone knocked out mighty Goliath again. It was football's version of March Madness in which a few mid-majors knock off power-conference favorites in the first round every year.
But wait. It wasn't over. Before doing a live postgame interview, Johnson proposed to his cheerleader girlfriend on Fox. She said yes, as if she could say anything else.
It read like one of those corny finishes to the litany of football movies we've seen in recent years, even the ones based on true stories but have been spiced up to tug at the emotions. And this one may be coming to the big screen eventually as apparently someone has offered to buy the movie rights to the Boise State football story.
So if you missed the game, you might eventually get to catch it in a theater near you. Or you can wait for the DVD to come out.
Sports Editor Andy Reed can be reached at 444-3952 ext. 17 or by e-mail at email@example.com.