Posted by ESPN.com’s Graham Watson
BOISE, Idaho -- As the traditional crowd chant of “overrated” started to fill Bronco Stadium at the end of Thursday’s 19-8 Boise State win over Oregon, all I could think was it was so true.
The "epic" matchup between No. 14 Boise State and No. 16 Oregon was supposed to be a classic way to start the season. Instead it was a rocky Boise State team beating up on a dysfunctional Oregon team in a game that ended with punches being thrown.
The game was epic, but more for its postgame melee than the play on the field.
How many believed Oregon was a Top 10 team let alone Top 20 is beyond me, and a glaring example of why preseason polls are ridiculous. Don’t get me wrong, Boise State played well -- at times -- but Oregon was not the competition that the Broncos had been preparing for all summer, which was mildly disappointing.
Here are a couple things I took away from the game:
Kellen Moore was sharp in the game especially early. Not sure what happened on the ball that slipped out of his hand and I’m sure he was as upset about it as anyone. He was out of sync with his receivers a couple times, but he did a nice job of reading the defense and finding the gaping holes. Boise State probably should have had a couple more touchdowns, but for an opening game it wasn’t a bad start to the season.
The running game was cause for concern in the first half, but in the second it really came on with 112 yards as opposed to 54 in the first half. Boise State offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin said he liked the two-headed attack of D.J. Harper and Jeremy Avery and said they worked best when they got carries in chunks and were able to gain a rhythm.
I was a little shocked about the number of turnovers Thursday. There was about a 10-minute stretch between the third and fourth quarters where the two teams combined for five turnovers. Boise State ranked 82nd in the country last season with 26 turnovers. Of those, 16 were fumbles. The Broncos have a three-fumble head start on 2009.
The Boise State defense was an unexpected surprise. Granted, some of their success was because of Oregon’s ineptitude, but as coach Chris Petersen said, it’s a confidence builder and that’s all the team was looking for. And holding a dynamic offense like Oregon’s to just 14 yards and no first downs in the first half is pretty amazing no matter how you slice it.
It’s unfortunate that this game will mostly be remembered because of the fist of Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount. His actions are still shocking, and let’s be honest, Boise State’s Byron Hout wasn’t guiltless in the altercation. Chris Petersen was pulling him away for a reason when Blount sucker-punched him. There have been a lot of words since last year’s game and it boiled over into a terrible situation. It will be interesting to see if any punishment is handed down on the Boise State side.
But fisticuffs aside, Boise State should be proud of its effort and relived to get the first one under its belt. There’s no doubt that this will only paint a big blue bulls-eye on the Broncos’ backs for the rest of the season, but how is that any different than past seasons?