RENO, Nev. — Going into the locker room, the No. 4 Boise State Broncos had to feel like they had control of the game and their BCS, Western Athletic Conference and potential national title hopes. And they did.
When the Broncos whispered their way into Mackay Stadium in Reno, Nev., the No. 19 Wolf Pack came in howling.
Despite holding Nevada to only seven points in the first half, BSU (10-1, 6-1 WAC) couldn’t slow Nevada’s (10-1, 6-1 WAC) charge. Nevada held the Broncos scoreless in the second half of the game until junior quarterback Kellen Moore checked a pass down to junior running back Doug Martin for a 79-yard touchdown to take the lead 31-24. The Wolf Pack evened the score on the next drive on a pass from Colin Kaepernick to Rishard Matthews.
With 0:13 left in regulation Moore did what he does best, close a game in stellar fashion. He hit senior wide receiver Titus Young on a 54 yard shot downfield to put BSU in position for the game-winning field goal. Senior kicker Kyle Brotzman missed the 26-yard attempt to send the game into overtime. He would do the same during the Broncos’ first and only overtime drive from 29 yards. Nevada’s Anthony Martinez would hit a 34-yard field goal to finish BSU, 34-31.
It would seem Brotzman would be a perfect patsy to lay blame. Heck, he did miss two consecutive chip-shots to take control of the game.
But the Broncos didn’t. They were well aware how many points BSU had scored early and how many they gave up late. Blame was the last thing on their minds.
“I have seen him (Brotzman) yet,” junior running back Doug Martin said immediately following the upset. “I’ll pat him on the back. He’s got to be having a hard time right now. Keep his spirits up.”
Focus started to turn to the seniors, sending them out the right way and letting everyone know Brotzman wasn’t solely to blame.
“It’s not his fault,” junior safety George Iloka said. “We’re going to have to keep our heads up. We’ve got another game next week. Let the seniors go out in good fashion with a win. It’s not his fault. Everyone made mistakes out there today. Everyone didn’t make the plays they were supposed to. He’s got to keep his head up, like everyone else. We’re all distraught right now.”
So now what was once a storybook season reaching its final chapters has now turned to a rare disappointment for the Broncos. National attention will surely turn to TCU and its 12-0 season and make a run at the BCS. The Broncos can only hope for a similar scenario as the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl and a chance to redeem against a quality opponent. Nevada definitely was.
Just know there was more to the loss than Brotzman. A blown 17-point first half lead and multiple miscues allowed for small bumps that eventually added up to one giant upset. Next season is new. Moore is back with a few new faces making their way forward and a solid defensive unit that learned a few lessons against the Wolf Pack.
Best things for BSU stakeholders to do is say goodbye to Kaepernick and be proud of a team that has accomplished more with what it had than any other BSU team up to this point.
Two more games to go. Let’s see what the Broncos have taken away from Reno.