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BSU @ Washington 2007: what could have been

Ed's note: OBNUG's Kevan is going out of third person for this post. Proceed with appropriate gravity.

I didn't mind that my seat for last year's Washington - Boise State game was in the nosebleeds, way up in the northeast corner of the grandstands, three rows from being on the roof and two or three feet from being in Union Bay.

I didn't mind that Washington fans were drunk and belligerent at 10:00am; I figured that was normal.

I didn't mind that there was no Coca-Cola at the Bronco tailgate party, or that OBNUG's Nick found 20 bucks on the sidewalk and I didn't, or that the stairs to our seats were so steep I held a pee for four hours.

I didn't even mind that the Broncos lost.

Now, 13 months later, I mind.

Looking back to September 2007 and flashing forward to October 2008, the gap between Boise State and Washington has become a chasm. The Broncos are undefeated and staring down their second BCS berth in three seasons. The Huskies are 0-7, playing out the string with a lameduck coach, and still trying to talk themselves into this Jake Locker era.

And somehow we lost to them.

At the time, I wasn't too concerned with the loss. I talked myself into the fact that it was perfectly acceptable for BSU to lose to a Pac-10 team on the road in a hostile environment. Besides, I knew that the 2007 Bronco team probably wasn't going to be able to replicate the success of the undefeated, Fiesta Bowl 2006 squad.

In hindsight, though, I have a very different take.

I blame the Huskies' sheer awfulness for my change of heart. If UW had taken the momentum from a win over the Broncos and turned it into at least a bowl berth, I wouldn't have really given Boise State's loss a second thought. But since the two teams have taken such divergent paths since that game, it is hard for me to look back on that fateful September day and remember anything other than regret. Since their win over Boise State, Washington has gone 2-16. Boise State has gone 16-2.

And somehow we lost to them?

Come to think of it, the Huskies were as bad then as they are now. Their only offense was Jake Locker running for first downs and 8-yard gains. Ian Johnson was a no-show, and I had my first sour taste of Taylor Tharp in a big-game environment. The more I think back to that game, the more I am convinced that if you put those same two teams on that field 10 more times, the Broncos would win nine of them.

Even worse, the loss now makes me think about what could have been. If Boise State had beaten Washington, they would have earned their first road win over a Pac-10 school and been justifiably rewarded in the polls. They were No. 22 heading into the UW game. They would have been a Top 20 team after it.

Looking ahead to the rest of the season, the Broncos didn't have another loss until Hawaii. They would have been 11-0 and probably ranked near the Top 10 by the time they traveled to Honolulu. They would have been at the forefront of the non-BCS BCS conversation, and they would have been a favorite to reach back-to-back BCS bowls. Considering that there was a two-loss national champion last year, even a national title wouldn't have been out of the question.

And get this: the Broncos would have had a 24-game winning streak heading into Hawaii - by far the longest winning streak in the nation. In fact, the only longer winning streaks this decade have been by Miami and USC. Boise State would have been a national darling by this point.

You would have to assume that the Hawaii game would have gone differently, too. Instead of all the attention and hype being on the undefeated Warriors, the Broncos would have had the lion's share. With the confidence from a 24-game winning streak and the previous road win over a Pac-10 school, the team probably would have played a lot differently than it did. Taylor Tharp might have believed in himself. The Bronco defense might have played better. Who knows what would have happened?

Sadly, the story would have been the same either way for the Huskies, except maybe with a more hasty ending. If Washington had lost to the Broncos, they still would have struggled all season long. Their losses might have been bigger and the public outcry might have been louder, but finishing 3-10 is not all that different than finishing 4-9.

Finishing 13-0 rather than 10-3, however, is an entirely different story.

And thanks to a loss to a team we should have beat, it is a story that will unfortunately never be told.