Thursday night's 28-27 victory over Brigham Young University was the craziest rollercoaster ride I've ever been on, and that includes a caffeine-fueled romp through Six Flags a few years ago. Boise State prevailed, and a win counts whether it's by 1 point or 41.
The Broncos are now 7-0 on the season and will re-enter Mountain West Conference play still not having played their best football.
There's a lot to unpack from the game, and I'll get there shortly. With the W under the belt, it's time for the weekly BroncoCountry post-game awards, brought to you this time by the money I made from selling extra-salty Cougar tears.
The Boise State offensive line
Sure I could have given this one to QB Brett Rypien or RB Jeremy McNichols, but it's time the big uglies got their due. They kept Rypien's jersey relatively clean and paved the way for McNichols to do what he does best.
Missing senior starter Mario Yakoo, the Broncos' trench dogs didn't miss a beat. They battered and bruised a very good BYU defensive front and and asserted their will throughout the contest. Redshirt freshman John Molchon filled in admirably for Yakoo. Molchon has all-conference OL written all over him, and he showed it last night.
When Boise State needed a touchdown to go ahead of the Cougars in the fourth quarter, the line opened up running holes and held BYU at bay in the passing game. It was a beautiful, expertly-executed game plan.
The big guys up front deserve a ton of credit for what they've been able to do this season, and especially for last night. Hats off to the Boise State offensive line, a masterpiece in progress.
DL David Moa
The freshly-minted "Moa Constrictor" was a wrecking ball of a man on the football field against the Cougars Thursday night. Undersized for a "normal" defensive tackle, Moa uses his speed and surprising strength to overpower offensive linemen who weigh far more than him.
Moa registered just two tackles on the game, but one was a huge sack in a crucial moment. His work inside - often being double or triple teamed - allowed his teammates to make tackles and clean up the BYU offensive attack.
Oh, and there was that field goal block thing.
The Cougars lined up for a potential game-winning field goal late in the contest. Moa burst through the line as if he was playing a nasty game of Red Rover and rejected Rhett Almond's kick in the most Dikembe Mutomba-like manner.
Moa, only a redshirt sophomore, continues to impress for the Broncos. He has very much become a guy that opposing teams have to game plan for.
Moa's field goal block
The aforementioned play was by far the biggest and most important play of the game Thursday night. There's no guarantee that Almond would have connected on the game-winner, but we'll never know because Moa swatted it out of the air with his big paw.
Like every BYU game this season, and many of its matchups with the Broncos in the past, Thursday's contest came down to the very last play. It had fans on both sides losing their minds. The blocked field goal didn't end the game, but it forced the Cougars into a lower-percentage call, which the Broncos took care of, with only a minor heartache-inducing play.
Also considered: QB Brett Rypien connects with RB Jeremy McNichols to open the scoring, either of BYU's pick-6s
QB Taysom Hill
The eldest of the BYU elder statesman didn't have the best game of his career (21 of 42 for 187 yards, 0 TD passes, 1 TD run), but his demeanor and leadership kept the Cougars alive in crucial moments.
BYU's final drive was a meticulous, surgical combination of runs and laser passes from the Pocatello, Idaho, native. He put the Cougars in position to win, this time his Hail Mary pass mercifully falling incomplete.
After what seems like decades, Hill will finally be out of eligibility after this season and will move on to the next phase of his life. Whether that's football or something else, Hill will be successful. Having interviewed him a number of times while writing for the Idaho State Journal in Pocatello, I can assure you that he is an honest, truthful person who is exactly as he portrays himself to be.
Hill had a heck of a game on Thursday night in his last crack at the Broncos, and led his team like a true veteran should.
Most overused cliché:
It started during last week's game against Colorado State when the ESPN announcers harped on the Broncos about not "facing any real adversity" during their first five games.
I'm paraphrasing here, but one said, "Your backups struggling to defend a first-team offense isn't real adversity." We'll forgive the patronizing and belittling remarks from ESPN's finest, but only because Boise State is coming off a big win last night.
Here's my counterpoint: Boise State has only forced three turnovers this season and is -8 (MINUS FREAKING EIGHT!!!) in turnover margin. That's asinine, a statistic usually reserved for the most awful teams in college football.
Yet the Broncos are 7-0 this year. How is this possible? How can a team be that awful in that category, yet has won every game it's played?
By staring adversity in the face and kicking it down the freaking stairs. By going Tonya Harding henchman on adversity's knees. By finding ways to come out on top despite numerous things working against it.
It started at home against Washington State, the second game of the year. Rypien threw three interceptions that helped the Cougars get back into the game, but ultimately the Broncos prevailed. Rypien threw a pair of pick-6s last night against BYU, yet the Broncos won. That doesn't happen by luck. Trust me.
There can be an argument that pushing through self-inflicted adversity is not as valuable as the opponent-caused kind, but is there really a difference.
Poo-poo Boise State's mental mistakes all you want (and there have been a few), but the flip-side of that coin is a team that overcomes its mistakes by forgetting them and moving forward with good, ol' intestinal fortitude.