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Thanks, Boise State, for the Memories

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While driving the rest of the morning and contemplating the greatest night in Ian Johnson's life, yet morbidly wondering: what if his mini-cheerleader girlfriend said no?...

When Boise State was in front of Oklahoma 28-10 late in the third quarter of the Fiesta Bowl, viewers  were notified its advantage was the result of the Broncos standing "toe-to-toe" with the supposedly mighty Sooners - by eschewing tricks, screens, reverses and Rube Goldberg first down machines to run, simply, "what they run," a combination of physical execution and heady fundamentals that had tossed Oklahoma into a hole that wasn't deeper only because Boise's own return team had just reversed snowballing momentum by booting an OU punt into desperate Sooner arms at its own eleven. From that gaffe, prelude to an easy Oklahoma touchdown, until it got the ball back down 35-28 with a minute to play, BSU's possessions ended Punt, Punt, Fumble, Punt, Interception, and it was outscored 25-0 in fashions explicable - 50 and 77-yard Oklahoma drives leading to a field goal and touchdown, respectively - and devastating - a penalty that allowed an unsuccessful OU conversion to reincarnate as the tying points, followed immediately by interception via miscommunication for Oklahoma's go-ahead, door-slamming touchdown with an inevitably miserable minute remaining for shell-shocked concession. At which point Boise relented: "To hell with fundamentals."

Rock on, Boise

SMQ knows not if the assortment of Hollywood theater and playground ingenuity the Broncos conjured from thin air is as certain an indication its turnover-fuelled first half run was principally adrenaline and Oklahoma sleepiness - he wouldn't pick BSU to beat Oklahoma again tomorrow or the day after - but he does know it doesn't matter. If Boise 's tank was so empty, after playing gotcha! on a hook-and-ladder that improbably forced overtime, that it couldn't stop OU  (Adrian Peterson galloped untouched into the end zone on the first overtime snap, and likely his last as a  student) and couldn't move the final few yards into the end zone by "conventional" methods (on a crucial third-and-one, Ian Johnson straight ahead was stoned and decisively driven back by OU's  interior line), and understood it had such little hope if it had to attempt both again in a second overtime that its best chance to win was on a single two-point play, then its fumes are the impetus of instant Idahoan lore and maximum year-end poll position. On its first overtime call, Boise attempted a quickly-foiled halfback pass; on its second, a tight end screen. When failing to traverse the final few yards into the end zone meant heartbreak and defeat on each occasion, the Broncos managed to complete another halfback pass on fourth down, the tying score, and proceeded on the winning two-point try to Remember the Titans on a fake receiver screen cum wildly successful Statue of Liberty counter. When even SMQ ("They're spreading the field to run") knew Boise had to get the ball into the hands of its moneymaker, what sort of daredevil voluntarily does it like that? In this case, the one that is 13-0 and has beaten as many teams in the current top 25 - two, by the same average margin of victory - as undisputed juggernaut Ohio State.

In that vein, FOX's BCS debut in SMQ's mind was a success, in spite of some bizarre editorial decisions by its booth team (the "original Cinderella story," Charles Smith, would actually be "Cinderella," and Boise is not analagous to the 2004 Utah team, which did not beat a ranked opponent and was an overwhelming Fiesta Bowl favorite against middling Pittsburgh, viewed far more widely as the team of the two that didn't belong), not only because it had the good fortune to broadcast by far the most death-defying closing minutes yet of a bowl season already touting its share of drama, but mainly because it allowed its crew to openly question the system it dished out $320 million to pimp for the next four years. Even before the Broncos' overtime score, Thom Brenneman said their effort "cries for a playoff," and Chris Meyers hardly shied in the post-game from extolling from coaches and players their potential claims on the mythical title stakes.

The fact is that Boise State really does have an opportunity at the national championship as currently constituted, but was perceived to have played too weak a schedule to deserve it, and struggled to beat the likes of San Jose State. Voters next week - certain to include SMQ - will dutifully mark the winner of Ohio State-Florida as the almighty "Number One" (cuz "National Championship" is painted, like, right there on the field, right?) as a result of that school's perceived superiority. And so it will be the dogged persistence of perception at last which manages what no flesh-and-blood football team - not the Big XII champion, not the nation's most prolific offense, not the ten-game-winning conquerors of USC - was able to deny Boise State on the field. Which is, of course, good and right; how else are champions supposed to possibly be judged?

But congratulations on a game well-played, dudes. Y'all were so cute out there! Running trick plays, proposing to your little cheerleader sweetheart! SMQ loved it.