BOISE, ID - SEPTEMBER 20: Michael Atkinson #99, Demarcus Lawrence #8, and Bryan Douglas #1 of the Boise State Broncos celebrate after a play against the BYU Cougars at Bronco Stadium on September 20, 2012 in Boise, Idaho. (Photo by Otto Kitsinger III/Getty Images)
Four years ago Boise State marched into Autzen Stadium to play the University of Oregon Ducks. This meeting just so happened to take place on my birthday, September 20th. I remember praying to the football Gods, pleading that they may grant my one birthday wish and let the Broncos come away with a victory.
Similar finger-crossing and prayers happened on Thursday night, as our beloved Broncos took on the Cougars of BYU. Again my wish was granted, and Boise State came away with a "victory".
Join me now after the jump as we take a look at the three stars and one goat of Boise State's win over BYU.
Warning: there may be more goats than stars.
Naming Three Stars is a hockey tradition that over the past few years has also become a Bronco Tradition. More info here if you are interested.
For some reason, this post feels oddly similar to a few others I have written. I feel strangely like I'm writing a Three Stars against Nevada, TCU, or Michigan State. Thursday wasn't exactly a win that you can hang your hat on. It was ugly, and that's putting it nicely. The Boise State defense was once again the anchor of the team, and we found out that Michael Atkinson has a vertical leap of 5". On to the stars!
Star No. 3: D.J. Harper, Star No. 2: Defense, Star No. 1: Michael Atkinson
Star No. 3: D.J. Harper
D.J. was at it again on Thursday night, rushing for over 100 yards for the second straight game. Although he had no offensive points (stupid refs), he was really the only option we had offensively. Matt Miller deserves honorably mention here, as he hauled in 7 receptions for 75 yards. Yes, I know, that's a first down every time he touched the ball. But unfortunately, he didn't touch the ball enough (cough..Prince..cough). Harper ended the night with 31 carries for 112 yards. He ran hard as he always does, but like the Broncos, the BYU defense is really the "strength" of the team. Based on his performances the past few weeks, I anticipate D.J. to have approximately 317 yards rushing and 7 TD's against New Mexico next week. D.J. has really been the only offensive weapon for us this entire season. He runs hard every single play and has truly proven his value on an offense that has been shut out twice in three games. Congratulations, D.J., on being Star No. 3 of Boise State's win over BYU.
Star No. 2: Boise State Defense
The Boise State defense was once again the anchor of the team on Thursday night. Previous to Thursday night, the Cougars had been averaging nearly 300 yards/game through the air, led by veteran QB Riley Nelson. "Veteran shmeteran" said the BSU defense as they limited Nelson to just 19 yards passing on the night. The Bronco defense caused 5 turnovers on the night. Nelson threw three interceptions, and there were two forced fumbles. Everyone knows of the amazing play by senior Mike Atkinson, but don't let this overshadow the incredible efforts of the Boise State defense as a whole. Jamar Taylor, Jeremy Ioane, Lee Hightower, and Demarcus Lawrence were literally wreaking havoc on the BYU offense. They also had two sacks against Riley Nelson, and one against youngster Taysom Hill. Nelson finished the night with a -4.5 passer rating. Umm...that's just terrible. Congratulations, defense, on being Star No. 2 of Boise State's win over BYU.
Star No. 1: Michael Atkinson
Thursday night was a defensive stalemate from which their seemed no offensive relief. With a 0-0 score at the half, frustrated fans everyone were wondering how we were going to put points on the board. Offense? Who needs an offense when you have Michael 'Canadian Bacon' Atkinson. The 300+lb defensive lineman from Canada showed the offense how to score on an interception that resulted in Boise State's only points on the night. Video? Yes, please.
First play of the video.
A lineman's dream come true. It simply could not have been any better for Atkinson. I was literally high-fiving people I've never met or spoken to who have seats around me. My wife was jumping in the air and squealing like a howler monkey as the Bacon Train took off toward the endzone. A seriously epic moment, not soon to be forgotten. Atkinson, a senior out of Ontario, Canada, has long been a critical slice to the Broncos defensive pie. An emotional leader on the team, Atkinson has helped lead a young Boise State defense to becoming one of the best we've seen in recent years. Congratulations, Michael, on being Star No. 1 of Boise State's win over BYU.
The Goat: Everything Else
And by everything, I do mean everything. I like to ask the Twitterverse after each game to tell me who their stars were, and who was their goat. FakeCoachPete put it best when he said the following:
@xbleedbluex Defense. Defense. Defense. Goat: things not defense.— Chris Petersen (@FakeCoachPete) September 21, 2012
Everything else really just seemed to suck. I mean really, just take your pick. BSU sound system (again), referees, offense, red zone offense, Riley Nelson, Joe Southwick, replay booth, timeout calling, 2 point conversion, the kicking game, offensive play-calling, quarterbacks sliding before they get to the first down marker (again), third down conversions, fourth down conversions, anything having to do with scoring on offense, penalties. We could literally go on all day. It was just plain bad. I mean ugly. It didn't even really feel like a victory. Had BYU not gone for the 2 point conversion, it very well may have resulted in a loss. We were having troubles with Taysom Hill running, and BYU had a good a shot as any to beat us in overtime.
Did I get this one right? Who were your stars? Was there only one goat? Sound off in the comments, Bronco Nation!