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Bombs over Idaho

Boise State’s loss ends a year’s worth of drama

November 28, 2010
By B.J. LISKO, Salem News Sports Editor

This is a pretty unfamiliar sting. Buckeyes fans know what I'm talking about. So do Steelers fans. So do fans of any team that you expect to see win when the unthinkable happens.

It's not news to any regular reader of my column or to anyone who knows me that Boise State has been my team for almost the last decade.

Didn't go to school there. Didn't ever live there. Have never even been there. Have no tie to the school whatsoever other than ordering the ESPN College Gameplan year after year and watching their video game-style team dismantle their opponents.

Each year, it didn't seem to make much of a difference. It seemed like I was the only person outside of Idaho and perhaps hardcore gamblers who cared at all what the team was doing on that wretched blue field.

But each year the Broncos got a little bigger, a little faster, a little stronger, culminating in this season, when Boise was finally poised to be the biggest BCS-buster of all.

That all ended in the wee hours Saturday morning, when two field goal kicks simply failed to find their way between the uprights, essentially putting an end to the season-long drama of David vs. Goliath, countless internet and message board and even school president arguments.

David shot once wide right, once wide left, then the BCS squashed David like a bully trampling ants on the sidewalk. You could almost hear the heinous, maniacal laughter erupting from the BCS offices.

Now instead of potential intriguing match-ups, we're essentially going to get bland BCS football with at least two teams that absolutely don't deserve to be there.

And it could get worse.

Right now it would almost certainly seem like an Auburn-Oregon title game. Given both teams comebacks on Friday, it was pretty likely even with two Boise victories in their final two games, they still would've ended up playing some patsy like UConn or even a re-match with Virginia Tech, winning again and collecting their BCS paycheck, only to retreat back to Idaho because no one else in major college football gives a damn.

But think about this. There's a full month between Auburn's likely SEC Championship win and the title game. Will Tiger star QB Cam Newton still be eligible? What if it's proven he's taken kickbacks or bribes at any place he happened to visit while "shopping" for schools or while schools "shopped" for him? If he's not playing in that game, just give the BCS trophy to the Ducks right now.

And what if it's years down the road? Will we have a vacated title should they win? Another vacated Heisman Trophy like Reggie Bush?

So now let's look at the other potential BCS-bound teams.

Wisconsin is in. Ohio State is in. TCU is in. Oregon and Stanford, check, check. Then it gets dicey. Arkansas? UConn or West Virginia? Virginia Tech or Florida State? Michigan State? Nebraska? Oklahoma? Thanks, but no thanks. The only real intrigue left is if TCU can knock off say an Ohio State or a Wisconsin, or even a Stanford. The rest of the potential match-ups look sloppy in a lot of ways. TCU has won very sloppy, and their star quarterback Andy Dalton suffered a concussion, so you even have to wonder if he'll suffer long-term effects from that.

No disrespect to the Horned Frogs, they might be the best team in the state of Texas, but top to bottom I just don't feel they're as good as Boise State. The Broncos beat them last year 17-10 with essentially the same rosters that are playing now. But, plain and simple, TCU did what they had to. Boise did not.

I'm not saying the Broncos would've made things all that much better. But at least then there could've been an argument. At least then there could've been the thought, that maybe, just maybe Oregon or Auburn would slip up in their final game and let Boise past throwing the BCS into an absolute frenzy, throwing fans into an absolute frenzy so that the BCS would have to at least entertain the idea of a playoff system. It wouldn't have mattered if Boise had got in and won. All they had to do was get there. Every SEC, Big Ten, Pac-10 and Big 12 fan would've lost their minds to see little old Boise State playing for it all. If they won, it would've been unreal and still a debate. If they lost, it would've been three quarters of the nation saying "I told you so. How 'bout that playoff system now?"

Failing that, there was at least the possibility of Boise vs. Wisconsin, or Boise vs. Ohio State - both would be phenomenal games to see. Either game would've given me enough to write about for well over a month. Nope. Boise thought with a 24-7 lead that victory was a certainty and decided not to show up until the last seconds of the second half, then rely on a kicker who hasn't had to make a meaningful kick in ages. Poor Kyle Brotzman. I feel bad for the guy. Thankfully, most of the public has shown him support and realized that it never should've come down to him.

If I had to guess right now, I'd say the Buckeyes will play Arkansas, or at least I hope they do, because I'm not sure anyone that isn't already tied to a bowl game elsewhere could give Ohio State a good game.

Ohio State, more or less, wins every year. They're always at least in a bowl game that means something.

I hadn't seen Boise State lose a game since they lost to Hawaii - who coincidentally I didn't mind seeing win when they did because they were the better team that year. So that didn't sting.

Really, the last time Boise State lost a game that hurt to watch was the 2007 Hawaii Bowl where they fell to East Carolina a year after their major upset, and perhaps the greatest football game of all time, of Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.

No, this stings. Like the Browns and their last playoff loss to Pittsburgh. My father and I screamed at the television for three hours. When the game ended I walked out of the house in silence and we didn't talk about it for years.

Boise has a lot of talent returning next season including their All-Conference QB Kellen Moore. They'll play in a decent bowl game hopefully with a chip on their shoulder against say an Alabama or an LSU. A win there would help restore their mystique to the general public and certainly give credibility to a team that just lost almost all of it outside of their fans and a few commentators and writers.

But really, for Boise State and their diehards, myself included, that sting is not going to go away until the next unbeaten season, and until they ultimately do crash the BCS party and become the catalyst for a playoff system.

For now, Boise State is dead.

Long live, Boise State.

"I love winning. I mean, I love winning. You know ... it's like better than losing." - Ebby Calvin "Nuke" LaLoosh, "Bull Durham."

E-mail B.J. Lisko at



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