This game wasn't pretty, but the result is a win, and Boise State Head Coach Bryan Harsin and his team have to be happy being 7-0 going forward. The list of things that need to be worked on should keep the Boise State coaching staff very busy. Special teams has to be at the top of that list. Ironically, it was a special teams play (blocked FG) that helped give the Broncos the win.
Every team, every season, develops and creates its own personality and identity. This year's Boise State team has certainly been doing just that. They have frustrated fans with their penalties, and turnovers. They have made games that should have been blowouts, or at the very least dominant victories, become nail biting close games that come down to the wire. Yet, the Broncos are still winning.
This team turned the ball over five times against BYU, including two pick-sixes, and didn't create a single turnover on the night. The Broncos are one of the worst in the country right now with turnover margin, and only have one fumble recovery, and two interceptions this entire season. Still, this team is 7-0.
Boise State has been inconsistent on offense, and point totals are down nearly five per-game over last season. However, the most important number right now is zero. That's the number of losses by this No.14 ranked Boise State team.
The heart of the matter.
Yes, it would be easy to go over the full list of issues in this game. It would be easy to rehash previously covered areas where the Broncos need to improve. But, you're not going to find it here. Instead let's talk about the heart of this team. Despite the struggles this team has faced, and quite frankly in many cases brought upon themselves, there is an underlying theme that keeps emerging – they win, and they do it by sticking together.
Even in the face of throwing two pick sixes, quarterback Brett Rypien did not play the remainder of the game in fear. He didn't go and pout on the sideline. Instead he came back out onto the field head held high, and he delivered. He continued to throw his passes without hesitation, including the one to tight end Jake Knight that put the Broncos in position for the go ahead score. He finished the night 25-of-39 for 442 yards (his best total of the season), three touchdowns, and despite the two interceptions he finished with a 174.42 quarterback rating. Oh ya, and the win.
Even after fumbling the ball on a 25-yard run in the second quarter giving possession to BYU, Jeremy McNichols continued to play hard. He finished the game with 30 carries for 140 yards, five catches for 109 yards, and two scores on the night. Which, included the go ahead touchdown, and helped give the Broncos win number seven on the season.
You know it's a crazy night when sure-handed Thomas Sperbeck fumbles the ball. This, on the same night that he breaks the all-time Boise State receiving yards record – on his birthday, no less.
Even after silly mistakes, turnovers, absolutely incomprehensible penalties at the absolute worse time, and just about everything that could go wrong, going wrong, this team came together – and they won.
On Thursday night, and into early Friday morning Boise State fans got to see something that should give them a great deal of hope. On that blue canvas under the bright lights in Albertsons Stadium coach Harsin and his team painted a tribute to the toughness and grit of this team. Despite the odds, and the obstacles, this 2016 version of the Broncos displayed the kind of heart last year's team seemed to be lacking. They displayed the kind of heart every coach wishes his team had, and the kind needed to win games and championships.
The greatest thing we learned in those early/late hours is that this team plays with enormous heart. They refused to give up even in the face of their own mistakes, all while competing against a relentless defense, and a good BYU team that plays with tremendous passion themselves.
Boise State is in a great position going forward. The team has made it through the toughest part of its schedule with a perfect record, even if the on-the-field product has been anything but. The encouraging thing for the Broncos fan base is that this group still has room to grow, and they have yet to put together a complete game.
Boise State fans say what you want. Analyze all the things that need to be fixed. Tweet, blog, and post every frustrating part of the game, and the season. It wouldn't be college football without those kind of things. However, when you're doing all that, talk about the heart of this team. Talk about this team's toughness. Brag about the fact that your team never gave up, and never folded under the pressure of mounting obstacles despite their origin. And, when that's all said and done, you might want to also mention that your team is now a perfect 7-0 on the season.