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Tuesday, July 7, 2009
Boise State's trickery bewitches OU in No. 5 Big 12 memory

By ESPN.com staff
ESPN.com

Posted by ESPN.com's Tim Griffin 

Bamboozled again and again and again. Boise's gadget plays doom Oklahoma

Date: Jan. 1, 2007
Place: University of Phoenix Stadium, Glendale, Ariz.
Score: Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42

Few observers gave Boise State much hope against Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Even with those daunting odds, the Broncos had a trick play -- or three -- up their collective sleeves to stun the Sooners in one of the wildest games in modern college football history.

The Broncos blew an 18-point lead late in the third quarter and twice came back from touchdown deficits -- once late in regulation and again in overtime -- to notch one of the biggest upsets in college football history.

The Sooners appeared to have the game salted away after cornerback Marcus Walker intercepted Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to put Oklahoma ahead 35-28 with 1:02 left.

But the Broncos had a little trickery left. Facing fourth-and-18 in the final seconds of regulation, Zabransky hooked up with Drisan James on a crossing pattern at the Oklahoma 35. As Oklahoma tacklers converged, James pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb, who raced into the end zone with 7 seconds left to tie the game after the conversion.

That stunning ending only set the stage for overtime.

The Sooners got the ball first and scored on Adrian Peterson's 25-yard run on the first play of overtime.

Boise State answered with another gadget play. Wide receiver Vinny Perretta's fourth-down 5-yard touchdown strike to tight end Derek Schouman -- on a play where Zabransky went into motion and the direct snap from center went to Perretta -- pulled the Broncos within 42-41.

Boise State coach Chris Peterson then decided to go for the victory by going for a two-point conversion. On the play, Zabransky looked at three wide receivers to his right before handing the ball behind his back to tailback Ian Johnson, who ran untouched for the game-winning points.

To punctuate the victory moments after the game, Johnson asked his girlfriend, Boise State cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, to marry him.

Early in the game, Boise State proved it wasn't intimidated by the heavily favored Sooners. The Broncos struck first on a 49-yard touchdown pass from Zabransky to James.

And on the next series, defensive end Mike T. Williams sacked Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson who fumbled, one of his four turnovers in the game. Williams recovered at the Oklahoma 9-yard line.

Two plays later, Johnson rumbled in from 2 yards to give the Broncos a 14-0 lead halfway through the first quarter.

The Sooners charged back to 14-10 before Boise State scored again shortly before the half to extend the lead to 21-10 on a 32-yard pass from Zabransky to James.

Marty Tadman's 27-yard interception return extended the Boise State lead to 28-10 with 8:05 left in the third quarter.

But Thompson, who struggled with a career-high three interceptions, was determined to lead the Sooners back into the game. Oklahoma erupted for 25 unanswered points, going ahead on Walker's interception.

Included in Oklahoma's binge was another touchdown run by Peterson, who finished with 77 rushing yards in his final collegiate game. It was Peterson's first game back after missing more than two months due to a broken left collarbone.

But Boise State wasn't done, digging deep into its playbook to produce one of the most memorable bowl games in history.

They said it, part I: "Yeah, another day at the office, huh?" Boise State coach Chris Petersen after the Broncos' victory.

They said it, part II: "It would have been easy to give up on us with a minute left, but we still had a lot of magic left," Boise State quarterback Jared Zabransky, after the Broncos' wild comeback.

They said it, part III: "I want to give them credit because I thought they executed it in a really good way. It's just the circumstances, the way it happened. They hit it perfect." Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops, on Boise State's series of gadget plays.

They said it, part IV: "There was no better time," Boise State tailback Ian Johnson, telling the Associated Press about why he decided to make his postgame proposal to Boise State cheerleader Chrissy Popadics on the field.

They said it, part V: "It might go down in college football as the best game -- ever." Zabransky on Boise State's late dramatics.

Factoids: Zabransky finished by passing for 262 yards and three touchdowns. Included were a pair of touchdown passes to James, who finished with 96 yards on three receptions ... Adrian Peterson finished his career with a touchdown on his final carry as a collegian ... Thompson completing 19 of 32 passes for 233 yards and two scores along with his three interceptions ... Ian Johnson rushed for 101 yards to lead Boise State ... The Sooners and Broncos combined for 22 points in the final 86 seconds of regulation ... Zabransky told reporters after the game that the Broncos worked on the hook-and-ladder play almost every day in practice, but it rarely worked against the Boise State defense because of their familiarity with the call ... Tadman produced two interceptions. 

The upshot: The victory capped off a 13-0 season for Boise State, finishing as the nation's only unbeaten team. The Broncos finished the season ranked fifth in the final Associated Press poll, far behind national titlist Florida (13-1).

Boise State was the fifth team since the BCS began in 1998 to go unbeaten and not win the National Championship. The others were Tulane (12-0, 1998), Marshall (13-0, 1999), Auburn (13-0, 2004) and Utah (12-0, 2004). Utah (13-0, 2008) became the sixth team.

Oklahoma's loss snapped a seven-game winning streak in 2006 for the Sooners, continuing their run of recent struggles in BCS bowl games. It was the Sooners' third-straight loss in a BCS game during an eventual streak that has reached five-straight BCS bowl-game losses.

The Sooners finished the season 11-3 and 11th in the final Associated Press poll.

The countdown:

6. Yes Sirr. Parker's heroics lead A&M to 1998 championship
7. Crouch's TD catch cements Heisman bid, beats Oklahoma
8. Sproles and Roberson stun t op-ranked OU, leading KSU to its first Big 12 title.
9. Emotional A&M victory brings closure after Bonfire tragedy.
10. Roll left: James Brown guarantees victory and then backs it up.
11. When BCS meant "Boo Chris Simms" in Colorado's first Big 12 title.
12. A Buffalo stampede: Six Chris Brown TDs lead CU to first Big 12 title game.
13. Run, Ricky, run. UT's Ricky Williams breaks NCAA career rushing record.
14. Wild game, wilder post-game rants when Gundy and Leach meet in 2007.
15. Rout 66: No, that score wasn't a typo.
16. KSU finally slays the Cornhuskers.
17. Kingsbury and Long hook up in a passing duel for the ages.
18. Henery and Suh make Colorado blue.
19. Stunning OSU rally leads to Stoops' first home loss.
20. It's never over for Texas Tech until it's over.
21. Reesing to Meier. Again and again.
22. A Texas-sized comeback -- Texas over Oklahoma State in 2004.
23. A Border War unlike any of the rest -- Missouri over Kansas in 2007.
24. Seneca Wallace's wild TD run vs. Texas Tech in 2001.
25. Baylor's "So Much for Taking a Knee" against UNLV in 1999.