Boise State will go into one of the most interesting offseasons in college football as a winner.
For the third straight year, Boise State won the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas. A field goal in the final minutes wrapped up a 28-26 win against a Washington team that was talented enough to beat Stanford and Oregon State this season.
Boise State finished 11-2, and it seemed like a ho-hum season. That kind of sustained success is why the Broncos are a major key to the ongoing realignment negotiations, and why Boise State's next move will be a huge story in the college football landscape.
While the Broncos were playing in a bowl game, a lot of the conversation about them on Twitter had nothing to do with what was happening on the field. An ESPN.com story brought to light a new angle to the Broncos' realignment saga: Boise State wants to hold onto its television rights for home games and is waiting to see if the Mountain West or Big East will agree to those terms. As ESPN.com writer Brett McMurphy pointed out in his report, an arrangement in which a school in a conference keeps and can sell its television rights is unprecedented. If the Big East or Mountain West goes along with that, it might have long-term effects on future deals between schools and conferences. Boise State, which said it will join the Big East but has been in contact with the Mountain West about remaining in that league, can have the boldness to ask for that because it has a long track record of success and is a valuable commodity in the realignment game. Boise State's decision will be critical in determining the long-term viability of two conferences.
“If the future’s in the Big East, it’s in the Big East. If it’s in the MWC, it’s in the MWC," Petersen said after the game, according to Bryan Fischer of Pac-12 digital.
Of course, the other major part of the Broncos' crazy offseason will be if the biggest piece of the program, coach Chris Petersen, would be interested in the Oregon job if Chip Kelly leaves. That potential move has been bandied about for a long time - though not by Petersen, who doesn't discuss job possibilities - and Kelly will be a hot candidate for NFL jobs. That has the potential to be another massive story surrounding Boise State, because if Petersen ever leaves that would be a huge blow to the program. But, there are many steps to go through before conference affiliation or Petersen's future are even a realistic discussions, so that gives the school at least one night to celebrate another nice bowl win.
Boise State was in a little trouble in Saturday's game after Washington took a 26-25 lead with less than five minutes left. The Huskies started dancing on the sideline for some odd reason (literally, they were dancing, check it out here) and Boise returned the next kickoff 47 yards. So much for that dancing. Quarterback Joe Southwick calmly led a drive inside the Washington 20. The drive that included a weird sequence in which Southwick sneaked up the middle on fourth and 1, appeared to be short based on ESPN's yellow first-down line but was given a first down by the officials without even a measurement. Boise State, on third and 10 with less than two minutes left, ran up the middle to set up a field goal, which had to be terrifying given the program's problems in the kicking game.
As Chadd Cripe of the Idaho Statesman pointed out, Michael Frisina's 34-yard field goal earlier in the game against Washington was the longest made field goal for Boise State since Nov. 19, 2010 - an absolutely flabbergasting statistic. It's amazing, for how good the Broncos recruit, that they can't find a kicker.
But Frisina had no problems as he hit the 27-yarder to give the Broncos the lead. Boise State intercepted Washington quarterback Keith Price with 14 seconds left for the final piece of the win. That wasted a great performance by Washington running back Bishop Sankey, who rushed for a Huskies bowl record 205 yards and had another 74 yards receiving against a very good Broncos defense.
Boise State's win finished another very strong season for the Broncos. By the next time we see Boise State play, the school will have to make some very important decisions about its football future.
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