Once in a lifetime
Watch: Boise State highlights, reaction
GLENDALE, Ariz. – Boise State never believed its trip to the Fiesta Bowl was a once-in-a-lifetime event. With 85 wins in an eight-season span heading into the game and changes to the Bowl Championship Series that favor small-conference teams, the Broncos fully intend to make January bowl plans a rule rather than an exception.
But the Broncos could make 100 straight trips to the BCS and never top what happened here Monday.
A 43-42 overtime win over Big 12 champion Oklahoma would have been enough to satisfy even the pickiest Bronco fan. But 43-42 doesn't begin to tell the story of this four-hour journey, from impressive domination to sheer despair to unbelievable excitement to one last dig into a depleted bag of tricks, that made everyone a Boise State fan. Even the Oklahoma faithful in Section 201.
Stunned Sooner fans in that area of University of Phoenix Stadium could only bow in homage toward their blue-and-orange-clad adversaries after BSU's overtime-forcing, fourth-and-18, 50-yard hook-and-lateral with seven seconds left in regulation. It was the ultimate sign of respect, an acknowledgment of ingenuity and perfect execution.
"You hope you never have to call it because it's not a good situation," rookie Boise State head coach Chris Petersen said. "But we work on it every week."
Of course, it almost never happened.
It wouldn't have happened without the 25 straight Oklahoma points that wiped out Boise State's 28-10 lead, without the Sooners' touchdown on a deflected pass and the ensuing game-tying two-point conversion with 1:26 left, a conversion that came after an unsuccessful try was negated by a Bronco penalty and a successful one was wiped out by a Sooner infraction.
It wouldn't have happened without the next play from scrimmage, the interception Jared Zabransky threw that Marcus Walker returned for a touchdown which gave Oklahoma its first lead. Just 62 seconds remained in regulation.
Sure, Boise State had proved it belonged. But the Broncos weren't going to take any satisfaction from making a statement for the little guy, not when they had squandered such an opportunity for themselves.
And even the hook-and-lateral didn't save Boise. It only set up two more wild do-or-die plays, extending the game of "Can you top this?" to ridiculous heights.
Oklahoma scored on the first play of overtime, while Boise State needed six plays – the last a controversial non-fumble – just to set up another fourth-down, all-or-nothing play. With an unbeaten record on the line and a fifth-year senior quarterback, the Broncos threw, of course. But running back Vinny Perretta took the snap, and the first pass of his career was right on target in the end zone.
What would they do in the next overtime?
Simple. There wouldn't be one.
"They're so big, strong and physical; the first overtime didn't go so well," Petersen said. "One play, they were in the end zone. We liked the play we had for a two-point conversion."
So even after Oklahoma called timeout to set up its defense, the Boise State offense took the field with the one trick it hadn't played.
How do you top a 50-yard, game-tying hook-and-lateral with seven seconds left and a fourth-down, game-saving touchdown pass by a flanker? How about a Statue of Liberty play for the game-winning conversion in overtime to cap an unbeaten season, with the scorer (Ian Johnson) proposing to his girlfriend right afterward?
WAC champion Boise State 43, big bad Oklahoma 42. One for the little guy. One for the ages.
"This probably goes down in the history of college football," Zabransky said. "It can be argued as the best game ever."
A once in a lifetime game, indeed.