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Boise State OT win screams for playoffs in college football

January 2, 2007

Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42 in OT. An instant classic in the 2007 Tostitos Fiesta Bowl. Top THAT Ohio State/Florida!

Boise State gets time with the trophy (AP)Way back in 2006, I made my plea for an 8-team NCAA Division I-A football playoff bracket. When I drew up that imaginary bracket, I put in the six major football conference champions (Ohio State, Florida, USC, Oklahoma, Louisville and Wake Forest) and two at-large teams (Michigan and LSU).

Now, boy, do I look silly.

And so do the college presidents that keep this antiquated bowl system alive.

  • National title wanna-be Michigan flopped big to USC in the Rose Bowl (which could cost cost head coach Lloyd Carr his job, if the Wolverine boosters scream loud enough).
  • No one cares about or will watch the Orange Bowl tonight between the Demon Deacons and the Cardinals — look for record low ratings in that matchup.
  • The Sugar Bowl features Notre Dame (who hasn’t won a bowl game since the first Clinton administration — 1993) and LSU, who didn’t win their own conference.

All of these games have nothing on the line except for a big trophy and a big payday for the school and its athletic conference. And those paydays are what is keeping the college presidents from giving the green light to a playoff system (that, and the NFL puts football on Saturdays in December. And they don’t want the competition from their minor league).

But, back to the Boise State game. I just want to blog a little bit about the Broncos, and what I think was one of the greatest bowl games of all time. (video clips after the break)

First, the underdog Broncos took advantage of the Sooners’ miscues early, and staked a 28-10 lead by the third quarter. At this point, I was ready for bed, and turned off the game.

I turned the game back on just in time to see Oklahoma go in for a touchdown to make the game 28-26. Then, with under three minutes to go in the game, Oklahoma had three cracks at the tying two-point conversion due to penalties, and converted on a pass from the 6-yard line. Clutch.

Then, heartbreak as the Broncos next play, a pass to the left flat, was picked off by Oklahoma and returned for the touchdown. That gave OU a 7-point lead with 1:02 to play.

I was waiting to see Broncos QB Jared Zambransky break down after that killing INT, but then…

Well….ESPN tells it better than I can… this Youtube clip shows the OU comeback, the Boise INT, and the hook-and-ladder play that tied the game…

The Broncos appeared to be finished when Oklahoma cornerback Marcus Walker intercepted Zabransky’s pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to put the Sooners ahead 35-28 with 1:02 remaining.

Boise goes nuts!“It would have been easy to give up on us with a minute left, but we had a lot of magic left,” Zabransky said.

The magic came on a stunning 50-yard “hook-and-ladder” touchdown play on fourth-and-18 in the final seconds of regulation. Zabransky hit Drisan James at Oklahoma’s 35, and James pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb, who raced into the end zone with 7 seconds to play.

Zabransky said the Broncos practice that play almost every day in practice but that it rarely works against the Boise State defense, which usually knows when it’s coming.

Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said the Sooners were looking for a trick play. But he said the Broncos ran this one to perfection.

“I want to give them credit because I thought they executed it in a really good way,” Stoops said. “It’s just the circumstances, the way it happened. They hit it perfect.”

That play merely set the stage for more Broncos magic.

Here’s the overtime highlight video. Check out the best two “gadget” plays in bowl history — back to back nonetheless! A HB option pass on fourth down and the “statue of liberty” play to win on a 2-point conversion in the first OT. A gutsy call, and it was well rewarded.

You can tell it’s the first big bowl win for Boise State…running back Ian Johnson throws the ball away into the stands after scoring the winning conversion (I’m searching eBay now…)

You can’t help but feel good for the Broncos, their fans and the whole state of Idaho (no, no potato jokes here folks).

And, to top the night off, at nearly 1 a.m. EST this morning in the middle of the celebration mayhem, Boise State’s RB Johnson, who scored the winning conversion, asked his girlfriend to marry him on national television.

She said yes!

He won on both fronts that night. She said yes! 🙂

Pat Forde of ESPN puts the perfect close on a perfect night in Arizona:

No bowl game has ever ended with circumstances this weird, piled improbably upon one another. When the final plot twist had played out and the final trickeration had worked, Boise State had beaten Oklahoma with a magical mix of determination and imagination.

Cinderella joined forces with Lady Liberty. The result was part fairy tale, part American Dream come true.

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