January 2, 2007


Broncos earn respect with improbable victory (Pat Forde, 1/2/07, ESPN)

At the end of a game unlike any college football has ever witnessed, two of the great female icons in American culture staged a harmonic, hypnotic, borderline hallucinogenic convergence.

Boise State introduced Cinderella to Lady Liberty.

A head-to-toe, shining-beacon-to-glass-slipper miracle ensued.

Jared Zabransky passed for 262 yards and three touchdowns.The Broncos culminated an unrivaled string of gusto-laden, do-or-die trick plays with one of the oldest in the book, the Statue of Liberty. And when Ian Johnson grabbed Jared Zabransky's behind-the-back handoff, scooted around the left side and scored two titanic points to beat lordly Oklahoma 43-42 in the Tostitos Fiesta Bowl, magic bloomed in the desert.

"It doesn't even seem real to me," Boise State offensive tackle Andrew Woodruff said, perplexedly rubbing his burr-headed scalp on the field while the Broncos fans roared in the stands.

Reality was further challenged when Johnson followed his winning run with an on-field wedding proposal to his flabbergasted cheerleader girlfriend. But, please, one blockbuster story at a time. [...]

Check the plaque at the lady's feet on Liberty Island this morning and see if the familiar sonnet has been changed. See if it now reads, "Give me your non-BCS teams tired of being disrespected, your poor of football budget, your huddled masses of mid-major strivers yearning to play in the grandest bowl games." And see if Lady Liberty is wearing a Boise State jersey today.

The greatest thing about the game, other than Oklahoma losing it, is that we now get to watch all the BCS gurus try to conjure up reasons why obviously deserving teams such as Boise State don't deserve a shot at the national championship, not to mention explaining why college football does not have a playoff system like every other major sport on the planet. To be fair, the argument for exclusion was still slightly plausible prior to last night.

Posted by Matt Murphy at January 2, 2007 2:49 PM

Actually, "college football" DOES have a playoff system. For Division I-AA. And Division II. And Division III. Apparently only those Division I football student-athletes are so serious about their academics that they can't possibly miss a few extra weekends in December.

Boise St. would almost certainly be massacred by USC & Ohio State, but they could compete with almost everybody else (especially when obviously underestimated), and it'd be nice to see them get a shot.

I've always wondered why the hook-and-lateral isn't tried more often in the exact situation that it was used last night. A Hail Mary involves no skill and has negligible odds of succeeding, but with skillful execution the hook-and-ladder gives you a decent chance at a miracle touchdown.

Seeing the Statue of Liberty at a level beyond high school was awesome. The only thing missing was the fumblerooskie, which for some inexplicable reason was banned a few years back...

Posted by: b at January 2, 2007 4:39 PM

A better case was made a couple years ago with Utah and Auburn. That made me rethink my opposition to a playoff (though it didn't change my mind). Last night did not.

Be that as it may, in the bowl system Boise left the seasons as winners on a high note. In the playoffs, they would have ended the season with an inevitable loss and last night wouldn't have been nearly as fun because it would have been a prelude to later playoff games and considerably less relevent.

Posted by: R. Alex at January 2, 2007 5:39 PM

Who needs a playoff system? I've watched several Boise games this year (I'm a fan of Nevada from the same conference) and while they are a very good team, they aren't of the quality of USC, Ohio State or Florida. Also, bowl games are week long events where players are treated as celebrities and a variety of events are put together making the trip part vacation and part athletic event for both players and fans. Having a playoff would make it just another game. The fans wouldn't travel to multiple playoff games making the atmosphere less exciting. Nah. Leave it alone.

Posted by: Patrick H at January 2, 2007 6:31 PM

Actually, "college football" DOES have a playoff system. For Division I-AA. And Division II. And Division III.

True enough, but it's also worth mentioning that the model that they use would anger almost as many as are now upset by the bowl system. Troy would be in the tournament, but Auburn probably wouldn't. Houston would be in the tournament, but Texas wouldn't.

In fact, most models will cause their fair amount of controversy. Many would still consider it an improvement, though I respectfully disagree.

Posted by: R. Alex at January 2, 2007 10:48 PM

Given the conference's complete domination of the post-season, Louisville has the best argument for a title shot.

Posted by: oj at January 3, 2007 12:10 AM

None of the Big East teams played a decent opponent in their bowls. That's not their fault, of course, as that's the way the system works. But beating up on the likes of Wake Forest & Kansas State isn't at all impressive.

The best talent top-to-bottom teams are unquestionably USC & Ohio State, and that would have been the best matchup to see. But any one-game contest is pretty much unpredictable, and it's all irrelevant anyways, since there is no official NCAA DI football champion.

My question is what provoked all the interest in football from oj this fall? I thought it was a fascist game? My guess is it either dates to the election, or possibly to the collapse of the Red Sox, but it would require a bit of research into the archives to pinpoint the source...

Posted by: b at January 3, 2007 1:20 AM

A 50" HD-TV.

Posted by: oj at January 3, 2007 8:27 AM

Actually, it wasn't that much of an upset. I got so annoyed by the Fox announcers pushing that angle that I looked up the point spread during the game. Oklahoma was favored by just seven points.

Posted by: Jim Miller at January 3, 2007 10:24 AM


I'm sure I speak for Nebraska fans everywhere when I say it sure is sweet watching the hook-and-ladder beat the Sooners for a change.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 3, 2007 5:11 PM

For all the doubters out there, I ought to note that there is no reason the playoff system has to be as extensive as that used in the NFL. Just pairing off the winners of a #1 vs. #3 game and a #2 vs. #4 game would be much better than what we have now, although I'd prefer a larger playoff.

You could form a committee to pick the four teams and stipulate that undefeated mid-major teams get their chances unless unusual circumstances interfere. That way there's still the fun element of controversy and the frenetic regular-season play, as well as a fair shot for two more teams. It would at least be an improvement.

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 3, 2007 7:21 PM

And reduce the regular season back down to 10 games, which is plenty.

Posted by: oj at January 3, 2007 8:43 PM

Curious: The post says there are eleven comments, but I can only see three.

And the one I thought I put up yesterday isn't visible. (I was noting that, since the point spread was just seven points, the Broncos win was not that much of an upset.)

Posted by: Jim Miller at January 4, 2007 10:40 AM


Honest reflection leads to one inescapable conclusion -- There is, simply, no such thing as too much college football.

Speaking of the Big East, did you catch West Virginia's stunning 18-point comeback against Georgia Tech?

"Send the Yellow Jackets to a watery grave..."

Posted by: Matt Murphy at January 4, 2007 2:57 PM