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Need to Know

Roadblock No. 1 Passed, Survived

It was a win to remember for Boise State, which advances one more week in its title hunt.

The first roadblock has been hurdled, bypassed, survived, what have you. Fortunately for Boise State, the road gets significantly weaker as the season progresses: the first roadblock will be the toughest, unless we’re overvaluing Virginia Tech and underrating teams from Oregon State, Fresno State or Nevada. Better news for Boise State: last night’s win was the season-defining win all teams desire, a win that instills fortitude and resolve — so this is what it takes to beat a top team, think the Broncos. What we take from last night’s 60 minutes of play: several interesting notes, several memorable moments — above all else, that the Broncos are as good as I believed they would be.

Take note that this was not Boise’s finest performance, not by a long shot. The Broncos were lazy with the football, fumbling two times in a four-drive span over the second and third quarters. Both led to Virginia Tech touchdowns: the first, with 3:18 left in the second quarter, allowed the Hokies — after a 12-yard touchdown run by Ryan Williams — to cut the lead to 20-14 at the half.

The second, on Boise’s second drive of the second half, led to another Williams touchdown run, this one from a yard out. Right before our eyes, Boise’s dangerous flirtation with turnovers had cost it a 17-0 lead — after that second touchdown scamper, Tech held a 21-20 advantage. Turnovers are often crippling; they’re deadly when given away deep inside your own territory, as was the case with each of Boise’s two fumbles.

The Broncos committed 11 penalties for 105 yards; the Broncos didn’t commit more than nine penalties in any one game last season, and hadn’t been penalized for more than 100 yards in a game since Nov. 8, 2008. Of course, the totals could have been far worse had the clipping penalty prior to Boise’s final scoring drive not been reversed, saving the offense from needing an additional 15 yards to put the Broncos ahead.

Boise State held onto the ball for less than 25 minutes, far lower than expected. The defense was not impressive as a whole, though it had its moments — Tyrod Taylor was terrific, proving too difficult to stop. The Boise special teams took and gave away in nearly equal measure, though I think the Broncos won the special teams battle as a whole.

No, this wasn’t Boise State’s finest performance.

And yet the Broncos beat a top 10 team on the road, for all intents and purposes. And did it with flair, scoring a late touchdown for the 33-30 win. And that’s all we really need to take from last night: even when not at its best, Boise beat a Virginia Tech team playing behind a very pro-Hokies crowd.

We know more about Boise State than just that, of course. We now know that Kellen Moore is no joke: he’s one of the top quarterbacks in the country, if not one of the best players in the country regardless of position. I always believed he was surely in the former category; after last night, after seeing his play on Boise’s game-winning drive, there’s no doubt he’s firmly in the Heisman mix. He was No. 1 on my preseason list, even if that means nothing.

We know the Boise State running game looks too imposing for every team outside of Oregon State to handle. Not that the Beavers will shut down the Broncos, nor that a team like Fresno State couldn’t shut down the running game in WAC play. Merely that the Broncos ripped off 168 yards on 24 carries against a stout Virginia Tech defense, albeit one that will be better in November than it was last night. To be fair, 71 of those 168 yards came on one play: nevertheless, you have to respect the output.

We know the Boise State defense misses its lone lost starter from a year ago, Kyle Wilson. Altogether, I didn’t see terrific athleticism from this defense against the Hokies; on the other hand, Taylor would have made any defense look bad with his performance.

I don’t mean to downplay Virginia Tech by focusing on the Broncos, but Tech’s time will come during A.C.C. play. I think nothing less of the Hokies after the loss, and believe we’ll see from this year’s team the same we’ve seen from most of Frank Beamer’s recent clubs: consistent improvement throughout the season. I still believe the Hokies the class of the Coastal division, if that means anything.

But this was Boise’s night, and a night it will remember should it run the table — with the way the rest of the schedule plays out, it’s hard not to picture a 12-0 regular season.

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  1. J.P. West says:

    Paul, being at that game was THE most tortuous thing I’ve ever experienced in my life. After it was all said and done, 75,000 hokie fans walked away from the stadium in silence knowing that that same disasterous ending was always right around the corner. This one’s gonna hurt for a while.

  2. Damien says:

    This was definitely a good game. Nothing to be ashamed of for VT fans.

    At least VT had the stones to schedule a game like this to begin with. Even if it had to be moved to the beginning of the season from the original date.

  3. Kevan says:

    Great point about the Boise State running game. The run has been largely absent in BSU’s biggest games over the past years as the team normally gets pushed around up front by bigger defensive lines. It was kind of nice not to have that happen for once.

  4. DMK says:

    I think this *was* the finest performance we’ve seen from Boise St. No one can deny they’re a treat to watch. Now, having beaten Virginia Tech, they play only one fringe top-25 team (Oregon St.) and **presto!** they’ve “earned” their title shot!

    Because we’ll be hearing about this all dang year: Let’s say (randomly) Miami (Fla.) beats VA Tech too. All they’ll have to have done to get their title shot is beat Ohio St., Pitt, Clemson, Florida St., UNC, Maryland, Georgia Tech, and the ACC Atlantic champ. Hard times for the big guys!

  5. Gotham Gator says:

    Boise State is a very good football team, as anyone who knows the game and watched Monday night’s contest could easily see. Whether they will deserve a spot in the BCS Championship Game is currently unknowable and almost certainly will remain unknowable right through the end of the regular season.

    I take exception to the implication advanced in many circles that Boise State’s relatively weak schedule stems in part from the fact that established schools are reluctant – nay, some would say afraid – to play the Broncos. While that may be true to some extent, it does not explain why Utah, TCU, and BYU have all been able to schedule more games against BCS programs over the past few seasons than Boise State. These are all elite mid-major football teams just like Boise, yet for some reason the big boys are perfectly willing to schedule them, including for home-and-home series.

    Paul, that might be worth a bit of a closer inspection.

  6. John Irons says:

    (wanking motion with hand)

  7. John Irons says:

    Gotham Gator gets the point of the week.

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