The Broncos fell to Wyoming 30-28 after a Brett Rypien fumble went out the back of the end zone for a Wyoming safety late in the contest. While that was the game-losing play, there were a number of other factors at play that led to the Broncos' demise.
I'll get to those later, but first BroncoCountry has some weekly awards to hand out. The winners get comforting hugs and a shoulder to cry on. Oh, and mad props from Bronco Nation.
RB Jeremy McNichols
McNichols once again proved to be the heart and soul of the Bronco offense. He carried the ball 18 times for 145 yards and two touchdowns, but was criminally underused in the second half.
When Boise State was at its best and moving the ball with ease, McNichols was toting the rock. The Broncos had 16 rushes for 120 yards and three scores in the first half, and the team notched 21 points. In the second half, however, the running backs were given the ball just 11 times for 39 yards. And the offense scored a meager 7 points.
Coincidence, I don't think so.
McNichols was the best player on the field for Boise State against the Cowboys. His early fumble was very costly, but the junior did his best to atone for it.
Also considered: QB Brett Rypien, RB Alexander Mattison
LB Ben Weaver
The senior linebacker racked up 16 tackles against Wyoming. He made plays throughout the game and covered both sides of the field with expertise.
On a night when the Boise State defense found itself struggling for truly the first real time of the season, Weaver stepped up and did his best to will the Broncos forward. They came up short, but the final score is not indicative of Mr. Weaver's efforts or desire.
Also considered: CB Jonathan Moxey, S Cameron Hartsfield, S Chanceller James
Wyoming's final touchdown pass and subsequent 2-point conversion
On third and 13 from the BSU 27 yard line, Wyoming QB Josh Allen was flushed to his right and out of his pocket. Scrambling, and lanky signal-caller heaved the football across his body toward the back of the end zone, where Tanner Gentry corralled it over the top of a poor defensive effort from the Broncos.
Down by two, the Cowboys went for the tie, and Allen connected with Jake Maulhardt, once again in the back of the end zone.
Things had been unraveling for the Broncos before this series, but Allen and the Cowboys came up huge when it mattered most. A team coached by a football wizard refused to back down, and played very disciplined and courageous throughout the contest.
I give credit where credit is due, and Wyoming deserves a metric buttload of it. This duo of plays were a microcosm of the Cowboy football team and game plan against the Broncos.
Also considered: The game-losing safety, Thomas Sperbeck to Brett Rypien 33-yard trick play touchdown
QB Josh Allen
Coming into the game, all the talk was about Wyoming RB Brian Hill, and for good reason. He very much lived up to the hype. But the reason the Cowboys won was the redshirt sophomore.
Whether it was his clutch passing in key moments or scampering for back-breaking first downs right when the Broncos thought they had things bottled up, Allen came up huge time and time again. He completed 18 of 31 passes for 274 yards and 3 touchdowns. Not really eye-popping numbers, but he also went the entire game without being sacked. He used his legs to kill Boise State all night.
There is nothing flashy about Josh Allen, much like the Wyoming football team as a whole. Both parties just find a way to get it done, and do so very disciplined.
Also considered: RB Brian Hill, TE Jacob Hollister
The entire Boise State team
Honestly, we should have seen it coming. The Broncos had been playing with fire for a couple of weeks before they even travelled to Laramie.
Throughout a season, a team's identity becomes apparent. Gritty teams find a way to win when the going gets tough. For many fans and observers of the Broncos, that's what they thought the team was; tough-minded and battle-tested through adversity. In reality, however, Boise State's identity was one of carelessness with the football and unfocused play with a lead.
When we first saw it against Washington State, we hoped it was a small hiccup in what was going to be a long season. Then the Broncos struggled offensively against Utah State, but went ahead and demolished New Mexico. All was forgotten. The Colorado and BYU games showed us how error-prone and undisciplined they are on offense.
Once is a mistake, twice is a concern, three times is a pattern.
After the BYU win, I asked if overcoming self-inflicted adversity is as valuable as overcoming opponent-caused adversity. Turns out, the answer is a resounding no with these Broncos.
I don't know if the coaches deserve the blame, if it's on the players, or if it's a result of a still young quarterback finding his confidence. Regardless, it's frustrating for fans, players and coaches alike. When receivers run open in the secondary and the ball doesn't get to them, it makes us angry. When the stud running back doesn't get the ball, we yell at our TVs.
The fact is Boise State has scored 28 points in three consecutive games, two of which were at home. With the amount of talent on the field, that is 100% unacceptable.
Great. Now I feel like a parent scolding a child who I'm disappointed in. Time to build us back up.
Fan expectations can be unrealistic sometimes, and Bronco Nation has been spoiled. Understand that undefeated seasons are hard to come by (Petersen only had two of them). Be frustrated and question decisions as that holds coaches and programs accountable. At the same time, try to keep things in perspective.
There are still four regular season games remaining, Boise State is still 7-1 (many programs would kill for that record), and the team's goals are still within reach (although a couple of losses from Wyoming are needed). Lessons can be learned and mistakes can be corrected.
I want that Mountain West championship back. Anything else is gravy.
Time for Harsin to show what he is capable of.
Also considered: The lack of penalties called on Wyoming