Over the last few years, Chris Petersen and the Boise State Broncos have built up their reputation for tough defenses and efficient offenses. On Thursday night, their defense looked good but their offense was far from efficient. Petersen has also built up a reputation for being one of the top coaches in college football but today it was his opponent who simply out coached himself.
No matter which team you cheer or if you were an impartial observer, this was an ugly football game. Boise State’s only score came on a third quarter interception return for a TD. BYU’s starting QB, Riley Nelson, went 4 of 9 for 19 yards and 3 INTs.
The turning point in the game came when BYU pulled Nelson and went with freshman Taysom Hill. With their backs against the wall, Hill led BYU from their own five yard-line on an eleven play drive that lasted 4:26 and ended up in the Broncos endzone after a gutsy TD run by Hill. After having five drives end in turnovers and six in punts, BYU was within one point of tying this game. With momentum on his side, BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall rolled the dice and went for the two-point conversion. The conversion was doomed from the start as the Broncos got penetration and Hill threw an off-balance wobbler that fell short of his receiver in the end zone.
Some say you play to win on the road and Bronco felt he had the momentum but he made the wrong decision. Boise State had already missed a field goal earlier in the game and had shown a lack of confidence in their kicker. The Broncos also had zero offensive points for the game. It was more likely that BYU would stop Boise State from scoring in regulation than it was for them to get the football back if they missed the two point conversion. The momentum had clearly shifted to the BYU side of the field and if the game went into OT they have had a much better shot at winning based on the teams second half performances.
Hindsight is 20/20 but in this particularly situation Bronco should have taken the easy points and rode the momentum into OT. Just because it’s a gutsy call, doesn’t mean it’s the right one. BYU now heads into it’s next match-up at 2-2 with their losses coming by a total of four points. Boise State on the other hand, is 2-1 but looks like a clearly different team than they’ve been in years past.