The Boise State (BSU) Football program has never been one to back away from a tough game. Such was the case this past week as the Broncos took on a perennial powerhouse Power 5 school, the University of Central Florida. UCF was favored to win the game by 6½ points, but spreads have never concerned BSU. Boise State fans felt that BSU should have won the game, a game lost with a 36-31 score, and there are plenty of excuses and blames to go around.
For many teams, the opening game of the season pretty much either sets the tone or determines the fate for the rest of the season. Nine years ago, BSU began the season ranked #24 nationally, and they traveled to East Lansing, Michigan, to play the opener against #13 Michigan State. It was a close game, but the Spartans scored the go-ahead touchdown half way through the fourth quarter to win the game.
Exactly a year later in 2013, Boise State was now ranked #13 in the nation for its season opener against Washington. It was not a close game as the Cougars won 38-6, and the Broncos were never ranked again for the rest of the season. The 2014 season opened with a neutral-site 35-13 loss against #13 Ole Miss. After a second loss in game five, BSU ran off nine straight wins to end the season as 12-2 and ranked #21 in the nation.
With a season opener at home for the first time in several years, #23 Boise State managed to beat former coach Chris Peterson and Washington in a close game, 16-13. The rest of the season was not too stellar, however.
Fast forward to this season’s opening game against UCF. The Broncos got the opening kickoff; couldn’t get much offense going, and punted the ball after five plays. UCF got the ball on their 30, and began a strong drive down the field. They were set to score when BSU intercepted a pass on the goal line and ran it back for a 100-yard touchdown.
On their second offensive possession, the Broncos steadily moved down the field for 78 yards and another touchdown. They led 14-0 at the end of the first quarter, and then 21-0 in the second quarter. Then it was 21-7, 24-7, and it was nearing the end of the first quarter.
Here’s the first “blame” from many non-coaches. UCF had the ball on their own 25; it was third down, and they had two timeouts remaining, but didn’t call one after a complete pass. BSU was holding them, and the clock was running. “Let the clock run out,” was my sentiment as I watched in shock as BSU called a timeout with 47 seconds left in the half! That saved a UCF time out and gave them time to re-group. They had just gone incomplete pass, followed by a pass for a loss of a yard. Momentum was not on their side.
Until BSU did them a favor and called a timeout.
UCF then went the remaining 75 yards for a touchdown in the next 41 seconds. The half ended with BSU still ahead 24-14, but UCF had regained the momentum.
UCF got the second-half kickoff and marched 84 yards in 8 plays to make the score 24-21. Two possessions later, UCF goes 78 yards in 10 plays to take the lead 28-24.
The fourth quarter opens with BSU punting from their 23 after a three-and-out sequence. Instead of a punt, the center hikes the ball past the punter who chases it until the ball hits the goal post—a safety and 2points for UCF, now leading 30-24.
After an interception in UCF territory, BSU is able to re-take the lead 31-30. Following the ensuing kickoff, UCF marches 75 yards for a touchdown. After a failed 2-point conversion, UCF was leading 36-31.
Starting at their own 25 with a little over 4 minutes left in the game, BSU methodically marched down the field, and with 2:07 to go, had a third and four on the UCF 35 yard line.
We’re all armchair quarterbacks, especially when something goes wrong. And this is what sealed the fate for BSU, and the game for UCF. In four-down territory and a little over 2 minutes in the game, BSU quarterback Hank Bachmeier rolls out to his right for a pass. He is near the sideline, and possibly could have picked up a couple yards to set up a short fourth-down play. Instead he makes an awkward pass that is intercepted by UCF.
UCF punted with 10 seconds left in the game, but that was it. Game over. BSU lost 31-36.
Now we’ll have to wait and see what the rest of the season holds for the BSU fans.
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