In a world full of clichés, many of them can be applied to Boise State's win over Colorado State last night. At the same time it's impossible to explain exactly what happened in the final 5 minutes, with or without clichés.
In the end, however, the Broncos prevailed 28-23 and moved to 6-0 on the season. They are now bowl eligible and moving toward a coveted Mountain West championship. At times it was pretty, in other moments it was hideous. But, as Bryan Harsin said, "There's no apologies for a W."
With that in mind, BroncoCountry has some awards to hand out to the top players and moments from yesterday's victory over the Rams. Each winner is eligible for a free athletic cup, which will come in handy on Thursday when BYU comes to town.
WR Chaz Anderson
Hear me out here. Obviously RB Jeremy McNichols was the star of the show as he rushed for 225 yards and two touchdowns, but Anderson was the catalyst that made the Boise State machine go.
With WR Cedrick Wilson mysteriously sidelined for most of the game, a receiver not named Thomas Sperbeck needed to step up. Anderson answered the call. Often criticized for his "stone hands," Anderson caught five passes for 65 yards, including a 35-yarder in Boise State's opening drive of the third quarter that eventually led to a Bronco touchdown.
Speaking of that specific score, Anderson followed up his catch by delivering a nasty block that sprung McNichols free and into the end zone. Anderson's blocking abilities have gone unnoticed for much of his career as a Bronco, but this particular play put them on full display.
Also considered: RB Jeremy McNichols, QB Brett Rypien, WR Thomas Sperbeck
LB Ben Weaver
The tackling statistics were spread evenly across Boise State's defense, but Weaver made his mark in many other ways. He did finish with seven tackles, however I was more impressed with everything else the senior linebacker did.
Weaver dropped back into the flats in coverage on a number of occasions, and blanketed the Ram running backs and tight ends. It made life difficult for CSU quarterback Nick Stevens. He was also on the hands team for three onside kick attempts, and, wisely, Colorado State kicked away from him.
Weaver is the quintessential senior leader, and in a game where leadership was needed, he stepped up.
Also considered: LB Tanner Vallejo, CB Jonathan Moxey
Either of Colorado State's successful onside kick attempts
Hey, I never said it had to be BSU's biggest play.
It looked like Boise State was one drive away from covering the Las Vegas spread, and a few minutes later the Broncos found themselves in an unexpected dogfight due to their inability to jump on the freaking ball after it went 10 yards.
The Broncos suddenly found themselves reeling. Their 25-point lead shrunk to 5 in a minute and 25 seconds. That's insane, and it all goes to CSU for executing two consecutive onside kicks.
Also considered: Thomas Sperbeck's trick play passing touchdown to AJ Richardson, Jeremy McNichols' 80-yard TD run
RB Dalyn Dawkins
The 5-foot-9, 175-pound running back ran hard all night for Colorado State. In the first half, he picked up tough yards and punished Boise State tacklers.
Dawkins only finished with 66 yards on 14 carries (4.7 average), but he made the most of his chances. Had the game been closer throughout the second half, there's no doubt Dawkins would have been handed the rock even more.
Also considered: RB Izzy Matthews, LB Kevin Davis
Onside kick coverage
This was mentioned earlier, but it must be rehashed. It is baffling how apathetic and disinterested the Broncos looked when CSU attempted and recovered two straight onside kick attempts. In fact, that's downright inexcusable. That's the kind of thing that gets special teams coaches fired, in reality.
Finally, on the third time, Boise State looked ready to handle what was coming. It was far too late.
BSU's special teams have been borderline pathetic this season (remember the onside kick the Broncos gave up against Oregon State?), and turned a blowout into a dogfight. Hopefully this gets addressed during the short week.
Best call from the referees
The illegal forward pass that ended the game
The zebras were predictably awful all night, but they nailed the call at the end, even if the handling of it wasn't perfect.
It didn't help that the ESPN commentators had no idea what they were talking about, nor that the cameramen refused to show the actual play in question. Allow me to explain.
Everyone was focused on the forward fumble that went out of bounds at the very end of the down. The play-by-play guys almost had aneurysms about it. In reality, however, the lateral the referees ruled was illegal happened much earlier. It was the second one of that wild play.
Stevens completed a legal forward pass to No. 4 (Michael Gallup), who legally passed backward to No. 89 (Robert Ruiz). Ruiz ran forward and tossed the ball to his left from the 34.5 yard line. Dalyn Dawkins was the next Ram to get it, but he caught the ball on the 35, or maybe even the 35.5. Ergo, there was an illegal forward pass. (See the photos below.)
The ball was touched two more times before flying forward and out of bounds. The ESPN announcers, and most of the people watching, were focused on that forward fumble because by rule, only the fumbling player can recover a forward-fumbled ball in the final two minutes. Had that been the call, the ball would have been placed back at the spot where it was last possessed and there would have been about 4 or 5 seconds on the clock.
However, the referees reviewed that second lateral and correctly determined that it had indeed gone forward. That is a loss-of-down penalty, PLUS It calls for a 10-second runoff of the clock. And since there was less than 10 seconds remaining, it meant the game was over.
I assume Colorado State fans were up in arms about the call, and, let's be honest, Boise State fans would have been as well had it happened to them. But the call was correct, like it or not.