The Broncos held on after a shaky start to muscle their way past the Utah Utes, 26-3 in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas. Kellen Moore threw two touchdowns, Doug Martin added an 84-yard score, and the Bronco defense was up to their old, all-consuming best.
After the jump get my initial feedback and recap of the game, and let me know in the comments how you felt about the Broncos' bowl win.
Top Five Plays
- Doug Martin 84-yard TD run. There was a lot to like about Martin's TD run, but my favorite part was how Martin pulled away from a Utah corner, outracing him to the end zone.
- Tyler Shoemaker 25-yard TD catch from Kellen Moore. These seven points were big for the Broncos right before the half, especially a half where they played as poorly as they did. Shoemaker put a sick shake on the safety and was wide open for the score.
Jeron Johnson forced fumble on Shaky Smithson. In a 13-point hole to open the second half, the Utes were driving down the field on their opening drive. Smithson took a pass to the Boise State 33-yard-line where Johnson stuck him, the ball popped out, and the Broncos recovered. Could it be that Smithson was both Utah's best player and their worst?
Austin Pettis fumble out of the end zone. The ensuing Bronco drive ended on Pettis's 46-yard catch-and-fumble that went out of the end zone for a Utah touchback. Or did Geraldo Hiwat fall on the loose ball in the end zone for a Bronco touchdown? I guess we'll never know. (Yes, we will. It was totally a Bronco touchdown.)
- Billy Winn forcing a holding penalty. Utah was driving, down 23-3, and Billy Winn shot across the face of Utah C Zane Taylor who had no other choice but to hang on for dear life (or let Terrance Cain be maimed). Cain completed a TD pass, which was called back, and the Ute drive petered out with a missed FG.
It was over when ...
Boise State stopped Utah on 4th down midway through the fourth quarter. The game was still a three-point margin, and Utah was driving. But two Shaky Smithson drops and a hopeless Terrance Cain scramble were the end of that. Utah got the ball back with a minute left, still down by three scores.
Boise State tried very hard to give Utah the Las Vegas Bowl, but the Utes weren't biting. Four Bronco turnovers, two challenged un-touchdowns, and the Broncos still won by 23.
The Boise State defense had a lot to do with it. After a couple close calls early (Shaky Smithson getting free, penalties wiping out long plays, drops), the Broncos broke out their wrecking ball of a front four and took turns smashing the Utes for the next three quarters. Utah finished with 200 yards, which is a small miracle in and of itself.
On offense, the Broncos laid an egg for 15+ minutes until an 84-yard TD run by Doug Martin put Boise State on the board and swung momentum in the Broncos' favor. Kellen Moore added a TD pass to Tyler Shoemaker right before the half (on a 3-play, 54-yard, 26-second drive) and another to Austin Pettis in the third quarter to give the Broncos a healthy lead.
The game could have turned multiple times in the first quarter when Utah forced three turnovers but squandered all of their chances. Martin's run started the beginning of the end for the Utes, and Kellen Moore hitting his groove all but sealed it.
Kellen Moore: 28-for-38, 319 yards, 2 TD, INT
Terrance Cain: 10-for-24, 93 yards
Doug Martin: 17 carries, 147 yards, TD
Jeremy Avery: 12 carries, 55 yards
Titus Young: 6 catches, 64 yards
Austin Pettis: 12 catches, 127 yards, TD
Tyler Shoemaker: 5 catches, 89 yards, TD
The biggest difference in the game for me was the play of Boise State's offensive line, which was owned for the first 15 minutes and did the owning for the last 45 ... Kellen Moore playing lights out sure helped, too ... Is J.P. Nisby the most underrated player on the team? ... My conservative estimate on what the score should have been after the first quarter: Utah 17, Boise State 0 ... ESPN owes me about six plays that it missed live ... I don't envy you all choosing between Kellen Moore and Doug Martin for MVP ...
Hey, Las Vegas Bowl officials, WAC referees called and want their questionable decision-making back ... Highlight of the pregame: Allen Mooney yelling at Utah players and Jeff Choate yelling at Allen Mooney ... Not sure making two 30-yard field goals, having one blocked, and dropping a pass counts as redemption, but oh well ... Boise State's second-team D-line did a great job swinging momentum ... Jamar Taylor, great strip sack ... Jeron Johnson, great hit/forced fumble ... Shaky Smithson is really good except when he's catching passes on his hands ... BIFFF is going to be very unkind to the Utah offense ...
Welcome back, godlike Austin Pettis ... Will Lawrence engulfing a Utah linebacker on Martin's 84-yard run was one of my favorite moments ... Boise State's uniforms looked sharp in a Tron-like way ... No deep passes to Titus Young? ... Boise State will be Top Ten to end the year, and it will be fun to watch the rest of bowl season to see how high they can get ...