The wait is over, the verdict is in. Redshirt junior quarterback Joe Southwick’s commanding performance over rival University of Nevada on Saturday propelled the No. 20 Broncos (10-2, 7-1 in MWC) to a 27-21 victory. The win allowed him to do what Boise State legend Kellen Moore couldn’t: win (a share) of the Mountain West Conference title.
“We’re the only team in Boise State history to win the Mountain West tournament and we’ll most likely be the only team,” Southwick said.
The Bronco defense has shut out seven opponents this season in the first half, with two teams scoring in the first half on kickoff returns and one team on offense. From the motor of sixth year running back D.J. Harper, to Southwick’s comfort in the pocket, Boise State went into the half with a 17-0 lead.
Harper eclipsed the 1,000- yard rushing milestone for the first time in his career. It is the fourth-straight year Boise State has had a 1,000-yard rusher. He rushed for 130 yards and sophomore wide receiver Matt Miller contributed with seven receptions for 127 yards including a beautiful 52-yard touchdown that put the Broncos ahead late 24-7.
The Broncos held the Wolf Pack to 21 points, their fewest of the season. The Wolf Pack have scored 31 or more points in every other game this season, but their offense fell victim to Boise State’s stout defense.
Nevada is the fifth Bronco opponent this season to register its lowest scoring output of the season against Boise State.
Stefphon Jefferson rushed for 139 yards and a touchdown and Cody Fajardo passed for 203 yards and ran for 81 for the Wolf Pack (7-5, 4-4).
Nevada had a late rally and pushed the game to 21-27 with 2:27 left to play. However, unable to recover the onside kick, the Wolf Pack’s last chance came with 13 seconds left on a hail mary that came up short of the endzone before being batted away by the Broncos secondary.
“We answered when we needed to, and that’s what I’m really proud about this offense, to really come through,” Head Coach Chris Petersen said.
UNR, who lost four of their last five games after starting the season 6-1, will finish its disappointing season with a trip to Albuquerque, N.M. for the New Mexico Bowl.
For Boise State, this is its first time not reaching 12 wins since 2007 (which includes bowl game wins).
However, the victory did two things for the Broncos: it kept its nation’s best seventh consecutive 10-win season and seems to be heading to yet another bowl game
It’s also worth noting this was the last game Boise State will play as a member under the Mountain West Conference.
Next season, the Broncos, along with fellow Mountain West member San Diego State, will head to the Big East as football-only members.
Boise State’s Olympic sports will head to the Big West Conference. There have no been no plans for the Broncos to head back to the Mountain West.