Like the old saying goes, “It’s not the size of the dog in the fight, but the size of the fight in the dog”. The dog in this case was the underdog of the BCS Tostito’s Fiesta Bowl, the Boise State Broncos. The Bronco’s, 2006 Western Athletic Conference champions, were one of only two undefeated teams in Division IA football, the other being the number one ranked team in the country, the Ohio State Buckeyes.

Most people outside of the Bronco’s home state of Idaho didn’t give them much of a chance against the very prestigious, highly recruited program of the Oklahoma Sooners. The Bronco’s, led by senior quarterback Jared Zabransky, shocked them all by coming out and taking an early lead.

With five and a half minutes remaining in the third quarter, well in contol with a 28-10 lead, the Bronco’s forced Oklahoma to punt and made their first big mistake. A stray bouncing punt hit freshman wide receiver Aiona Key in the back of the foot and Oklahoma recovered the fumble. Two plays later, after an Adrian Peterson 8 yard touchdown run, the Sooners only trailed 28-17.

With a little less than 3 minutes remaining in regulation, Boise State punted away to Oklahoma with a close 28-20 lead. Oklahoma wasted little time walking down the field and converting for a touchdown on a 8 yard touchdown pass from Paul Thompson to Quentin Chaney, leaving only a 2 point conversion necessary to tie up the game. After two attempts that resulted in penalties, Thompson completed a pass to Juaquin Iglesias for the conversion, tying the game.

Boise State got the ball back with 1:16 remaining. In the first play from scrimmage Jared Zabransky made his first devastating mistake, throwing a ball directly into the hands of junior Oklahoma cornerback Marcus Walker who returned the ball 34 yards for the touchdown and giving Oklahoma the lead with a little more than a minute remaining in the fourth quarter.

With 18 seconds remaining and facing a 4th down and 18 at midfield, Boise State’s chances seemed bleak at best. The Broncos didn’t back down and that’s when the magic started. Zabransky completed a pass to Drisan James at Oklahoma’s 35 yard line, James then pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb, successfully completing the “hook and lateral”, who then raced the remaining 35 yards and into the end zone, sending the game into overtime. Boise State head coach, Chris Petersen, later credited his backup quarterbacks with the play call.

In case you aren’t familar with the way overtime works in college football, here is the format:

  • Each team is given one possession from its opponent’s twenty-five yard line.
  • The leader after those possessions, if there is one, is declared the winner.
  • If the teams remain tied, this continues, switching the order of possessions for each overtime, until one team leads the other at the end of the overtime.
  • Extra points do not count from the 3rd overtime on, making it necessary for teams scoring touchdowns to attempt a two-point conversion.

Boise State won the coin toss and choose to go on defense first. On the first play of overtime Oklahoma’s Adrian Peterson ran for a 25 yard touchdown and thus took the lead 42-35.

In the Bronco’s possession they moved the ball very slowly, culminating in a 4th and 2 from the 5 yard line. Knowing they needed a touchdown to tie up the game, they lined their offense up on the field. Jaren Zabransky, Boise State’s starting quarterback went into motion, leaving only sophomore receiver Vinny Perretta in the backfield. Perretta took the snap, ran to the right, then lofted a floating pass to senior tight end Derek Schouman in the back of the end zone for the touchdown. Needing only an extra point to tie the game and send it into a second overtime period, Boise State’s offense again took the field to go for the 2-point conversion and the win. Zabransky took the snap faked a throw to his receiver on the right and held the ball behind him where sophomore running back Ian Johnson ran the ball to the left and into the end zone to win the game. It was a classic “Statue of Liberty” play that you see more in cartoons and movies than in an actual football game, but it worked and it won Boise State the game.

It was simply a very exciting game, however, brings up a very controversial topic in college football: Should the NCAA national champion be crowned through the existing BCS national championship game or through a tournament format? It seems rather simple to me, more than 2 teams, nearly every season, have an argument to be made why they deserve to play in a national championship game. It is hard to deny a team, who wins every game on their schedule, the opportunity to play for a national championship. Unfortunately, this is not currently the case as it is nearly impossible for a mid-major conference team to be able to compete with the top teams of the nation in rank because of the overwhelming difference in strength of schedule. And because of it, a team that at the very least will be only one of two undefeated teams in the nation, possible the only team depending how Monday night’s BCS national championship game between Ohio State and Florida plays out, will be nowhere near the number one rank in the nation. How is this possible? How can you be better than 13-0?

It is quite clear that NCAA football is not being played on a level playing field. Not only do teams in major conference’s have a much easier time recruiting blue chip talent. but when a team in a mid-major conference beats the odds and wins every game on their schedule, then goes to a BCS bowl and beats a team that nobody believes they can beat, their season ends there. “The best of the rest”, because they’re simply not allowed to compete with the “top teams” in NCAA football, even though they’ve done everything possible to show the world that they can compete and that “It’s not the size of the dog in a fight, but the size of the fight in the dog”. And let me tell you this dog, has a huge fight!