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Baffling. Flabbergasting. Mystifying.

Many, many people echoed the same point even when Boise State was rolling through the first eight games of 2011 unopposed: at some point, the Broncos’ lack of a kicking game would be the deciding factor in a loss. Extra points are like pulling teeth. Field goals? Not outside of 30 yards. Yet with a perfect record on the line — with everything in the balance — Boise relied on its kicking game to beat T.C.U. and keep the team’s national title hopes alive. This was the worst decision of Chris Petersen’s coaching career.

Boise State had the ball at the T.C.U. 20-yard line with 29 seconds left. Wait: let’s back up a bit. The Horned Frogs, after retaking the lead, 36-35, thanks to yet another Casey Pachall touchdown pass complete with a two-point conversion, put the ensuing kickoff out of bounds.

The Broncos were bailed out by a questionable pass interference call against T.C.U. on fourth down. Questionable, yes; nevertheless, it’s a call that, in such a spot, you expect the home team to receive. That pushed Boise to the T.C.U. 35 with 50 seconds left: an eternity, especially for this offense.

Even without timeouts, that’s more than enough time to push the ball down field several times, whether in an effort to get in line for an easy field goal try or, better yet, for a touchdown. These are moments when Boise excels: with a senior under center, seniors along the offensive line and tested options dotting the offensive side of the ball, the Broncos are built for success in moments that flummox lesser teams.

You saw this experience on Boise’s play from the T.C.U. 35, when Moore found Tyler Shoemaker for a 10-yard gain. Now, with 44 seconds left, the Broncos were at the T.C.U. 25. Two plays later, the Broncos were the T.C.U. 20.

Here’s where you stand with time: with 20 seconds left, with players who know how to handle the clock, you have time to attempt several tries into the end zone, if not dink and dunk a few passes to get your kicker a little closer.

Instead, Moore scrambled into the middle of the field and slid down; after calling timeout with three seconds left, Boise called on Dan Goodale from the T.C.U. 22.

This was baffling. Flabbergasting. Completely and utterly baffling. This was not the Boise we’ve seen since Petersen took over in 2006: the Boise we know is cutthroat, a team that takes the pulse of the opposition early but goes for the jugular late. This was passive, and being passive doesn’t become Boise State.

Goodale’s 39-yard try went far wide right, as expected. Boise has no kicking game. I mean, the Broncos have a kicking game, but it’s utterly unreliable. To rely on your kicker to win this game is one of the strangest coaching decisions of the 2011 season. Petersen could have relied on Goodale, but not from 39 yards — Petersen could have called his number from 30 yards, but 39 yards is far out of Goodale’s range.

Boise State’s Chris Petersen wins games at a ridiculous clip. He’s nearly universally praised as one of the finest coaches in the country. But this was nonsensical, and it’s likely the first black mark on his otherwise sterling coaching career.

For the second year in a row, Boise State’s national title hopes end thanks to poor kicking. Last fall, Kyle Brotzman missed a field goal and an extra point in an overtime loss to Nevada. Today’s loss, like last year’s, knocks Boise out of the national title picture and into a secondary bowl. That’s where the similarities end: while last year’s team may have been better, this loss hurts Boise far worse.

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Comments

  1. PeteP says:

    A lot of discussion of Boise’s kicking issues, but the story of the game was TCU’s Casey Paschal and his almost 500 yards of passing, totally out-classing would-be Heisman trophy finalist Kellen Moore.

    With Boise’s struggles with AFA and UNLV the last two weeks and its loss to TCU, Boise has just learned what stepping up in conference means. With games at Wyoming and SDSU remaining (both bowl bound and Wyoming is battling for 2nd place in conference with Boise), Boise could lose again before the end of the season.

    Too bad the same official kept trying to give Boise the win — besides the horrible PI on 4th and 10 at the end of the game, he also had a bunch of other bad calls, which resulted in Boise TDs after drives had otherwise died……. Fishy, to say the least…

  2. David says:

    Actually, I’m really, really excited to see what happens to the Heisman rankings. Luck’s key fumble (and inability to run up the score against Oregon), plus Moore’s team losing has GOT to cause those two to lose some ground. I can’t really figure out where the voters will go, since winning seems to be so important to the Heisman voters in the last 10-ish years. It should get interesting.

  3. qx says:

    BSU is overrated and chokes against a second-tier opponent? I could never have guessed.

  4. schedule nit says:

    It’s always tough to win when you look like a bunch of tangerines out there!

  5. Parker says:

    Hi Paul –

    It was a whale of a game. The one aspect of the game for which I was totally unprepared was TCU’s WRs getting wide open behind the Boise secondary time and time again. That was shocking to me.

    With 18 starters graduating, does Petersen stay in Boise and rebuild after coming so close the last 2 years and falling short?

    I hear UNC is willing to pay him $2.5M to come to Chapel Hill. I’m sure UCLA and Arizona will make a run at him too.

  6. DMK says:

    When you play teams about as good as you are, you lose some of the time and win some of the time. Boise’s about as good as UGA and TCU.

    Boise plays about 2 decent teams a year and usually loses to about one of them.

    No surprises.

    I know that 2010 Nevada and 2011 TCU are pretty solid teams, but honestly, this really should end all of the delusional Boise paeans. Solid team. Fun team. Inspirational team. Not an elite team.

  7. Ezra says:

    PeteP is right– Pachall out-Kellen-Moored Kellen Moore on the smurf turf. Both QBs were really good, but Moore choked when the gamew as one the line– I think he threw 5 incompletions in the game’s final minute.

    Pachall just put the Big12 on notice: DMK may think TCU is second-tier, but Boise just learned the truth. THe rest of them will, too, soon enough.

  8. DMK says:

    Losing to SMU and Baylor makes you second tier. TCU last year was perhaps first tier. TCU is in good shape going forward so long as they start recruiting better than Kentucky and Iowa. They’ll certainly have a shot to prove themselves!

  9. Dave says:

    Boise had their chance and blew it, like all the other 1-loss teams out there. Too bad – would have been fun to see them in another BCS bowl. Say want you want – they and TCU both have earned the right to play in a BCS conference, and they got there the hard way. Will be great to see what they can do in the Big 12 and Big East.

    Now, Oklahoma State, please win out and spare us all this ridiculous rematch talk. Oh, and LSU better not sleep on Georgia…

  10. PeteP says:

    DMK-

    TCU lost by 2 at its long-term rival Baylor (bowl bound for 2nd year in the row and with one of the best QBs in football) and lost in OT to its other long-term rival SMU (bowl bound for the 3rd year in a row and with one of the best coaches around in June Jones).

    Neither loss was great, but TCU was essentially two plays from being undefeated (sort of like LSU being undefeated in the regular season in 2007…..) during a rebuilding year.

    TCU will enter the B12 with the best returning QB in the conference and a lot of young studs on both sides of the ball….

    2nd tier???? ha, ha, ha, ha

  11. Lee says:

    Dave,

    You have got to be kidding right? If LSU and Bama are the clear cut two best teams in the country then how can the “rematch talk” be ridiculous? I personally don’t want to see a rematch but I don’t think that’s it is ridiculous if it occurs. Bama can’t help it if everyone else in front of them Loses and puts them back in the title race. Look at the current polls! If OU beats OKie State should they get in over Bama. They lost to a 6 win Texa Tech team at Home-check that, got their tails whipped by a 6 win Tech team. Bama lost a close game to LSU and actually probably should have won the game.

    I personally want to see Okie State get their cream puffed by LSU but I think that it is ridiculous to say that a rematch is “ridiculous” when both of those teams will destroy everyone else. Their offense will steam roll these pathetic defenses from Okie ST, OU, Clemson, VT(I just laughed out loud), Stanford( what a joke), or Oregon.

    Heck, I think Oregon is probably the clear cut third best team in the country and they got slapped upside the head by LSU.

  12. Dave says:

    ‘Bama lost a close game at home because it can’t kick a field goal – just like Boise. Neither is now deserving of a title shot. I love the justifications/excuses that get thrown out there – ‘Bama deserves another shot because it is an “elite” team, or because it “actually probably should have won the game.” Well, it didn’t, and elite teams lose all the time – that is why they play the games. Otherwise, let’s just declare the preseason # 1 the national champ and dispense with the season entirely.

    And Lee, I love how you are now the biggest LSU fan in the country. Tell me, did you switch allegiances WHILE they were beating the stuffing out of your Gators, or did you wait a couple days out of respect?

  13. DMK says:

    There’s no reason to talk about Boise anymore.

  14. Lee says:

    Dave,

    Are you serious? I was strictly talking about Oregon/OU/Bama getting a shot and stated that Bama played the #1 team in the country much closer(overtime) than Oregon and that OU’s loss was unforgivable. I hate LSU btw. They are classless. I was rooting for Bama because their players act like Professionals. They don’t run their mouths like the Tigers.

    Think about what you said. Bama and Boise lost bc they couldn’t make field goals therefore they are underserving of a title shot. Oregon gave up 40…40!! to LSU and OU lost to a pitiful Texas Tech team at HOME! Look, we need a playoff but that isn’t happening this year so we have to siffed through the destruction and pick 2 teams. I already stated that I hope OK ST and LSU play so we don’t have to argue which team had the better loss and should get a rematch.

    The way I see it….being objective here…Bama’s loss in overtime by 3 while giving up only 9 points and HAVING A CHANCE TO WIN THE GAME is better than Oregon’s 13 point loss. They let LSU hang 40 on them dude. Oklahoma’s loss is just baffling and unforgivable. Stanford’s loss was bad. They got run off of the field at HOME.

    If we HAVE to chose 1 team out of the above then it shoul be BAMA. I don’t want to see a rematch at all whether that be Oregon or Bama. BUT Bama has better wins and a bette loss than all of the above mentioned teams.

    They beat #6 ARk 38-14(butt whoopin), #21 Penn STate, and bowl teams UF, Tenn, Vandy, MSU, and #25Auburn( that one is going to be UGLY).

    They simply have a better resume’ than everyone else.

    That’s about as objective as it gets dude.

  15. 4.0 Point Stance says:

    Sorry but TCU is nowhere near the first tier either on a one-year or a multi-year ranking. I consider first-tier programs (on a broader scale) to be the LSU, Oklahoma, Florida, Ohio State, Texas level. This year, the first tier of teams is pretty clearly LSU, OSU, Oklahoma, Alabama, Oregon, full stop. (Arky has a chance to jump into that tier with a win over LSU). None of those teams has a loss to Baylor – Baylor! – and the fact that they’re “long term rivals” is irrelevant. LSU and Tulane are long-term rivals, but the Greenies sure as hell wouldn’t beat the Tigers.

    It’s pretty amazing how quickly college football fans get spoiled. Wasn’t so long ago that TCU fans were excited for the opportunity to be playing in the Poinsetta Bowl. Now they fill the Internet with righteous indignation when someone dares suggest their two-loss team is anything other than one of the finest programs in the country.

  16. Uberd says:

    4.0 should look at G. Pattersons record the last 10 seasons. thats top tier.

  17. Lee says:

    TCU is a good program but they are not a TOP 15 program. Top 15 over the last 20 years In no particular order 1. Florida 2.USC 3.Ohio State 4. Oklahoma 5. LSU 6. Alabama 7. Auburn 8. Michigan 9. Oregon 10. FSU 11. Texas 12. Georgia 13. Virginia Tech 14. Nebraska 15. Miami

    Penn State, Notre Dame, Michigan State, Oklahoma State, Tennessee, Arkansas, Clemson, West Virgnia are the only other programs that can argue top 15 status.

    TCU and Boise ST have been solid over the last 6-7 years. Just look at TCU’s record against BCS opponents over the last 7 years. Not elite.

    But they do have a chance to prove themselves in the Big12 so lets wait and see. Might be singing a different tune next year.

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