NCF Nation: Kyle Brotzman

Lunchtime Links

May, 18, 2011
5/18/11
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Checking in on the non-AQs with your lunchtime links.

Bronco Mendenhall's wife has gotten more comfortable in her role as the first lady of BYU football.

Non-AQ conferences should form their own playoff.

This is a good read on the financial strain bowls put on schools.

Nevada has hired Casey Moore as its running backs coach.

Former Air Force coach Fisher DeBerry was overwhelmed to learn he was selected to the College Football Hall of Fame.

King Congie, expected to be in the field at the Preakness, was named for a Temple super fan who passed away earlier this year.

Former Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman had a tryout for Arena League football.

Boise State needs a kicker

April, 15, 2011
4/15/11
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Boise State has plenty of returning starters, but one of the biggest holes it has to fill is kicker. You may have thought that after Kyle Brotzman missed two crucial field goals against Nevada last year, costing the Broncos their undefeated season and a chance at a BCS game.

But Brotzman was a veteran four-year starter, a guy who left school as the highest scoring kicker in FBS history. He may be remembered for those misses. He may not have always been automatic, but he did anchor a position that Chris Petersen did not have to worry about over the course of the past several seasons.

Not so going into 2011. When asked about his kicker situation last week, Petersen joked that his team would always go for it on fourth down. Nobody has emerged as the bona fide starter so far during spring drills in a competition between Dan Goodale, Jimmy Pavel, Michael Frisina and Jacob Hauter. All four are walk-ons and should get opportunities in the spring game Saturday. Scholarship signee Jake Van Ginkel could end up coming in and taking the job when he arrives in time for fall practice.

Of the four who are in school now, Goodale has been the most improved. Like Brotzman, he is a walk-on from the state of Idaho.

Here is what Petersen said of Goodale: “If he can take another step -- and he needs to take another step -- between now and when we play in the fall, he can do some things for us.”

Boise State, Utah notes and nuggets

December, 21, 2010
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As we prepare for the big showdown between No. 19 Utah and No. 10 Boise State in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Wednesday night, here are some interesting notes and nuggets headed into the game. Hopefully you already clicked on my video previewing the contest. Motivation is the name of the game for both teams.

-- Utah has won nine straight bowl games, the longest active streak in the nation. The all-time record is 11 straight, set by Florida State from 1985-95. When asked what has been the key to his team's bowl success, coach Kyle Whittingham said, "We have a model that we follow as far as bowl preparation that we feel has been tested over the years but what it boils down to is the way the players approach that model and the work ethic and commitment they have. We don’t think we have any secret way of doing things. It’s just the mentality. We practice with the same intensity and same way we do during the course of the season."

During the span Utah has gone 9-0, Boise State has gone 6-4 in bowl games.

-- It has been a rough end to the season for Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman. He missed two crucial kicks against Nevada that cost the Broncos the game. Then he finished the regular season with another miss against Utah State, the first time in his career he has missed three consecutive field goals. Still, Brotzman is three points away from becoming the NCAA’s all-time leader in kicking points. Art Comody scored 433 points while playing for Louisville from 2004-07.

-- This game is one of four outside the BCS contests that features two ranked opponents. The others: No. 20 South Carolina vs. No. 23 Florida State in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31, No. 16 Alabama vs. No. 9 Michigan State in the Capital One Bowl on Jan. 1, and No. 11 LSU vs. No. 17 Texas A&M in the AT&T Cotton Bowl on Jan. 7.

-- There is no question Boise State wide receiver Titus Young is a deep threat. But did you know seven of his nine touchdown receptions this season have been for 40 yards or more -- the most in the nation. Special thanks to ESPN Stats & Information for that note.

-- It is no secret Utah struggled down the stretch, splitting its final four games. But how big was the disparity? Check out this chart from ESPN Stats & Information.

Lunchtime Links

December, 21, 2010
12/21/10
12:00
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Four bowl games in four days featuring non-AQ teams kicks off tonight with the Beef 'O' Brady's Bowl between Southern Miss and Louisville. I picked the Golden Eagles in an upset.

Now on to some links:

Florida offensive coordinator Steve Addazio has interviewed for the Temple head-coaching job.

Utah WR DeVonte Christopher is enjoying a homecoming in Las Vegas.

With struggling kicker Kyle Brotzman, Boise State will face tough decisions in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on when to kick or when to go for it.

The S.D. County Credit Union Poinsettia Bowl between San Diego State and Navy has already sold over 50,000 tickets -- a record for the bowl game.

Southern Miss needs a much better game on defense to have any chance against Louisville.

TCU running back Ed Wesley does a Q&A with the Fort Worth Star-Telegram.

New Kent State coach Darrell Hazell is eager to get going.

The hiring of Pete Lembo will define Ball State athletic director Tom Collins.

Hawaii may not be locked into playing in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl once it moves on to the Mountain West.

The Navy football program has not missed a beat since Paul Johnson left.

Non-AQ season wrap

December, 8, 2010
12/08/10
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The big storyline going into 2010: Could this be the year for a team from a non-automatic qualifying conference to make history and land in the BCS national championship game?

History was definitely made, but in a slightly different way.

[+] EnlargeTCU quarterback Andy Dalton
Mark J. Rebilas/US PresswireTCU quarterback Andy Dalton led the Horned Frogs to an undefeated season and a Rose Bowl berth.
No. 3 TCU carried the torch for the non-AQs everywhere, going undefeated for the second straight regular season and landing a spot in the prestigious Rose Bowl -- the fifth team to play in the game from outside the Big Ten or Pac-10 in the BCS era. The Horned Frogs will face Wisconsin in what is shaping up to be a must-win, for the sake of credibility.

Of course, the Horned Frogs are the first non-AQ team to play in that game, and have now become the first non-AQ team to land back-to-back BCS berths after playing in the Fiesta Bowl last season.

And to think just three short weeks ago, all eyes were on Boise State. The Broncos were also undefeated and ranked right behind TCU in the BCS standings. But many people figured if they won out, they would leap the Horned Frogs as the top non-AQ school.

The two had spent the entire season jockeying for position. Both started out ranked in the AP preseason poll -- Boise State at No. 3 and TCU at No. 6. Both returned most of their starters, including veteran quarterbacks. Both seemed poised to make that push for history, since no other non-AQ team had ever started the season ranked so high.

But then Nov. 26 happened.

Boise State walked into Reno to play Nevada needing two more wins, with a potential BCS berth on the line. The Broncos jumped out to a 24-7 halftime lead, but that all vanished. Kyle Brotzman missed a 26-yard field goal that would have won it in regulation, then a 29-yarder on the first possession of overtime. Nevada kicker Anthony Martinez nailed his field goal, and Nevada won 34-31, breaking Boise State hearts everywhere.

TCU got the BCS spot. Boise State ended up in Las Vegas, perhaps a perfect place to forget their sorrows.

But what happened to No. 10 Boise State was no fluke -- and neither was the WAC. Nevada posted the best season in school history at 12-1 and finished No. 15 in the BCS standings. No. 24 Hawaii also won 10 games, and the three shared the league championship. They also ended the season ranked in the Top 25 -- the first time the WAC has had three ranked teams since 1997. The Mountain West, usually the standard-bearer for the non-AQs only had two teams ranked.

As for history being made, there was plenty of that in the other non-AQ conferences. UCF earned the first ranking in school history this year en route to the Conference USA championship. FIU won its first Sun Belt championship and got the first bowl bid in school history. And Miami (Ohio) had the best turnaround in college football this season, turning a 1-11 season into a 9-4 season with a conference title.

In addition to all that, Air Force, Army and Navy are all in bowl games for the first time in the same season.

[+] EnlargeKellen Moore
AP Photo/Greg Wahl-StephensKellen Moore's 33 touchdown passes made him a Heisman finalist.
Offensive MVP: Kellen Moore, Boise State and Colin Kaepernick, Nevada. If the WAC can vote them Co-Offensive Players of the Year, then so can I. Both were outstanding for their respective teams. Moore is the first Heisman finalist in school history after throwing for 3,506 yards, 33 touchdowns and five interceptions. Kaepernick put his team on his back, and joined Cam Newton and Tim Tebow as the only players to run for 20 touchdowns and pass for 20 touchdowns in one season.

Defensive MVP: Tank Carder, TCU. You have to give the nod to the leader on the best defensive unit in the country. TCU ranks No. 1 in total defense for an incredible third straight season. His stats don’t jump off the page -- 54 tackles, 2.5 sacks -- but they don’t have to when you do so many other things to help your team win.

Newcomer of the year: Ronnie Hillman, RB, San Diego State. Well, I got one of my preseason predictions right. Hillman had a year to remember for the Aztecs, set the Mountain West freshman rushing record with 1,304 yards and 14 touchdowns en route to league Freshman of the Year honors. Don’t be surprised if his name pops up in Heisman talk in the next few years.

Coach of the year: Chris Ault, Nevada. This was a tough one with so many worthy candidates. TCU coach Gary Patterson, Miami (Ohio) coach Mike Haywood and San Diego State coach Brady Hoke all deserve consideration. But Ault took his team to the best season in school history, and his Pistol offense is all the rage.

Biggest surprise: Miami (Ohio). As I mentioned above, going from 1-11 to 9-4 is quite an accomplishment for the RedHawks and Haywood. This is a team that was predicted to finish fifth out of seven teams in the MAC East. Now they have rings.

Biggest disappointment: BYU. I got this preseason prediction right as well. The Cougars had won 10 or more games in four straight seasons, but they could not get anything going offensively in 2010 after struggling at quarterback and failing to find any consistent playmakers.

Game of the year: Nevada 34, Boise State 31 (OT). The game was an instant classic. It changed the course of the non-AQ season, and also gave Nevada its first ever win over a Top 5 opponent.

Boise State Broncos season recap

December, 7, 2010
12/07/10
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The season started with such high expectations -- BCS bowl or bust. After all, Boise State returned nearly every starter off a team that went undefeated in 2009 and won the Fiesta Bowl over TCU. The Broncos began the season with the highest ranking in school history at No. 3 in the AP poll, setting the stage to potentially become the first non-AQ team to make it into the BCS National Championship Game.

The first hurdle was the season opener against No. 10 Virginia Tech at FedEx Field, a virtual home game for the Hokies. Kellen Moore engineered a dramatic comeback after Boise State blew an early 17-0 lead, and Boise State won 33-30, validating its high ranking. The Broncos beat Oregon State a few weeks later, and remained in the top 5, jockeying for position with TCU as the top non-AQ. TCU moved ahead after a win over Utah, but it appeared the momentum began to swing back toward Boise State after the Horned Frogs had a close win over San Diego State. Most projected Boise State would be the top non-AQ if it won out.

But alas, it was not meant to be. The Broncos lost a heartbreaking stunner to Nevada 34-31 in overtime on Nov. 26, dashing their hopes at getting a BCS bid. Kyle Brotzman missed a 26-yard field goal that would have won it in regulation, then another 29-yarder in overtime. He became the subject of harassment and ugly taunts, but Chris Petersen maintained it was a team loss. Indeed, the Broncos blew a 17-point halftime lead. Still, Boise State was able to win a share of the WAC title, finished No. 10 in the BCS standings and ended their WAC membership with a 40-0 record at home in league games. The senior class has gone 47-5 with two undefeated regular seasons and a BCS win.

Offensive MVP: QB Kellen Moore. A Heisman Trophy finalist and WAC Co-Offensive Player of the Year, Moore threw for 3,506 yards, 33 touchdowns and five interceptions -- and he’s only a junior. Titus Young, Austin Pettis and Doug Martin deserve recognition as well. All three made the WAC first team: Young had 1,151 yards receiving and 9 touchdowns, Pettis had 804 yards and 9 touchdowns, and Martin had 1,113 yards rushing and 11 touchdowns.

Defensive MVP: Billy Winn, Shea McClellin, Ryan Winterswyk, Chase Baker. This was simply too close to call, but the nod goes to the entire front four for being the engine that made the defense go. The four combined for 19.5 sacks and helped set the tone for everyone else to follow.

Turning point: The loss at Nevada killed its chances at a BCS game.

What’s next: Boise State plays Utah in the MAACO Bowl in Las Vegas on Dec. 22, then prepares for life as a member of the Mountain West missing several key players including Young, Pettis, Winterswyk, Winston Venable, Brandyn Thompson and Jeron Johnson.

MAACO Bowl Las Vegas

December, 6, 2010
12/06/10
12:16
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Utah Utes (10-2) vs. Boise State Broncos (11-1)

Dec. 22, 8 p.m. ET (ESPN)

The “had loftier goals” bowl features two of the best non-AQ teams in the BCS era. Both have two BCS wins. Both have had undefeated seasons that have left them short of the national championship game. Utah heads to the Pac-12 next season, so this is the final time the two can be paired up as the best of the non-AQs. The Utes did cancel three upcoming games with Boise State because of their move up. In any event, both were ranked in the top 5 of the BCS standings as late as the last week of October. But Utah got exposed in a 47-7 loss to TCU, then followed that up with an embarrassing 28-3 loss to Notre Dame. The Utes will be without starting quarterback Jordan Wynn in this game, out following shoulder surgery. Terrance Cain will get the start.

As for Boise State, you already know about the 34-31 overtime heartbreak to Nevada in Reno, when Kyle Brotzman missed two chip shot field goals, including one that would have ended the game on the final play of regulation. Boise State never openly said it had designs on trying to break the glass ceiling and be the first non-AQ to make it in the BCS national title game, but the Broncos were oh so close, reaching as high as No. 3 in the BCS standings. Had they won that game, there is a good chance they would be playing in the Rose Bowl and not TCU. They overcame the disappointment with a win over Utah State in the season finale, and will be looking to do the same against the Utes.

Video: Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
8:43
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video
Kyle Brotzman looks back at last Friday's overtime loss to Nevada, a game in which he missed a field-goal attempt at the end of regulation and in overtime.

Lunchtime Links

December, 1, 2010
12/01/10
12:00
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Just two more days until the MAC title game!

Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman on missing the game-winning field goal: "It was devastating." You can see more of his interview with Tom Rinaldi of ESPN today at 6 p.m. on "SportsCenter."

The BCS is simply absorbing the most nettlesome non-AQ schools, writes Doug Robinson of the Deseret News.

The Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl will invite either Nevada or Boise State.

Ball State athletic director Tom Collins won't comment on his search for a new coach.

Hayden Fry believes North Texas made the right decision when it hired Dan McCarney.

A single, anonymous San Diego State donor has pledged $5 million to help retain coach Brady Hoke, who has had informal discussions with Minnesota. Hoke could not confirm he was out of the running for that job when asked by the San Diego Union-Tribune.

The sweeping changes at Miami (Ohio) began off the field.

Hawaii had face-to-face talks with the Mountain West on the mainland Tuesday in its pursuit to join the league.

Northern Illinois is looking forward to playing in a dome for the MAC championship after practicing in the cold this week in DeKalb.

SMU continues its turnaround under coach June Jones.

Boise State loss cost WAC millions

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
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Boise State had a bad weekend, but so did the WAC if you want to look at the dollar signs. Sure, it was great for Nevada to beat the favored Broncos 34-31 in overtime, but that win has cost the league and the schools plenty of cash.

The Broncos are now essentially out of the running for a BCS game. Commissioner Karl Benson estimates an $8 million hit to the league had Boise State been the automatic qualifier from the non-AQs into the BCS. According to Benson, Boise State would have received $3 million of the $8 million given to the WAC. The remaining $5 million would have been divided by the other eight WAC schools, giving them $625,000 a piece. The payout in the other WAC bowl games will not even come close.

As for the Broncos, coach Chris Petersen said he has spoken privately with kicker Kyle Brotzman, who missed two field goals in the game, including a 26-yarder at the end of regulation that he pushed just wide.

"He’s got a great team around him that really supports him," Petersen said. "I think as many people that are out there that are so called crazy fans, I think there’s enough of them that get this and feel bad for him and our situation. I think he’s going to be fine. The important thing is that he come back strong here the next two games and finishes out like all the good things he’s done for us up to this point. ...

"Kyle’s doing fine. He’s a strong young man. He’s got a great support group around him. He’ll get through this."

Brotzman has been the subject of taunts and threats. But a Facebook page called "The Bronco Nation Loves Kyle Brotzman" has more than 20,000 fans.

As for the missed 26-yard field goal, many fans wondered where the referee was positioned, and why the call was not up for review because it looked too close to call on TV. Benson said he was not aware of where the referee was positioned, but said WAC supervisor of officials Jim Blackwood reviewed the play and determined the correct call was made. Per instant replay rules, the field goal was not reviewable.

A few other fans had questions about the flag that was called on Boise State early on the third quarter for interfering with punt returner Rishard Matthews, who fumbled on the play. Benson said the call was the correct one because the returner must be given an unimpeded opportunity to catch the ball, per NCAA rules. Nevada ended up scoring to close the gap to 24-14.

Non-AQ Weekend Rewind, Week 13

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
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Let's take a look at the good and the bad for the non-AQs in Week 13.

The good: TCU completed its second straight undefeated regular season and is the flag bearer for non-AQS everywhere as the top team remaining in the BCS standings. Meanwhile, Nevada beat a Top 10 team for the first time in program history with its huge 34-31 overtime win over Boise State. But this weekend rewind would not be complete without a major hand clap for Akron and coach Rob Ianello, waiting until the very last game of the season for its first win, a 22-14 victory over Buffalo last Friday. Alex Allen posted his third straight 100-yard game, and Patrick Nicely threw for three touchdowns. The season will end without a winless team. ... FIU also made history with its first Sun Belt title and first bowl berth.

[+] EnlargePatrick Edwards
AP Photo/Zach LongPatrick Edwards and the Cougars ended the season on a four-game losing streak. The losses mean Houston will miss a bowl game for the first time in six years.
The bad: Houston, a preseason favorite to win Conference USA, ended the season on a four game losing streak and will miss a bowl game for the first time since 2004. The Cougars gave it a valiant effort, but in the end, the loss of Case Keenum was too much to overcome. The running game was never consistent, mainly because teams loaded the box and dared Houston to throw. When they did, true freshman David Piland put up a lot of yards, but also threw too many interceptions. During the four-game skid, he had 13 touchdowns to 11 interceptions. … Ohio (8-4) managed a season-low six points in a loss to Kent State with a berth in the MAC title game on the line. The Bobcats had four turnovers, 11 first downs and just 183 total yards. They had won seven straight going into the game and now await their bowl fate.

The offensive: Nine non-AQ teams scored 40 points or more this weekend, including five that scored 50-plus. Two of the wildest games were Tulsa beating Southern Miss 56-50 and Louisiana Tech beating San Jose State 45-38. In the Tulsa game, G.J. Kinne threw for 406 yards, while Southern Miss quarterback Austin Davis had 371. The two teams combined for 1,197 yards and 56 first downs. In San Jose, the two teams combined for 1,001 yards and 50 first downs. San Jose State quarterback Jordan La Secla threw for 496 yards, five touchdowns and three interceptions while Louisiana Tech running back Lennon Creer ran for 252 yards and three touchdowns.

The heartache: Boise State may be 10-1, but it’s hard to imagine anybody is more heartbroken than the Broncos today. Their dreams of playing for a national championship have been dashed, and so has any hope of playing in a BCS game. You have to feel for kicker Kyle Brotzman, who missed two field goals, including one that would have won the game.

BYU also had its hearts broken on a missed kick in the Holy War against Utah. It was a wild game in Salt Lake City, featuring seven combined turnovers. The most costly for BYU came late in the game. Leading 16-10, Brandon Bradley intercepted Jordan Wynn with about five minutes to play. But he fumbled during the return and Utah recovered. Though TV replays showed his knee was down, the ruling on the field stood. Matt Asiata ended up scoring on a 3-yard touchdown run to put the Utes ahead 17-16. BYU had a chance to win it, but Mitch Payne’s 42-yard attempt was blocked by Brandon Burton. Interestingly, BYU was involved in a highly publicized instant replay error against San Diego State earlier this season. After finding a BYU employee and alumni were working the booth in that game, the Mountain West changed its rules and no longer allows alums or school employees to work instant replay during games involving their teams.

A few more helmet stickers: UNLV freshman kick returner Marcus Sullivan set a new UNLV single-game record for kick return yards with 224 yards in a loss to San Diego State. That ranks second in conference history. … North Texas running back Lance Dunbar set a career-high and had the sixth-best rushing performance in the nation this season with 270 yards and three touchdowns in a loss to Kansas State. He scored a fourth touchdown on a 17-yard pass reception. Also in the Sun Belt, Western Kentucky running back Bobby Rainey now leads the nation in rushing with 1,649 total yards rushing.

Week 14 look ahead: Two conference championship games to look forward to: Miami (Ohio) versus Northern Illinois on Friday in the MAC and SMU versus UCF on Saturday in Conference USA. No. 17 Nevada plays Louisiana Tech, No. 11 Boise State plays Utah State and Hawaii plays UNLV. If all three win out, they share the WAC championship.

Lunchtime Links

November, 29, 2010
11/29/10
12:15
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What a wild weekend in college football. Still plenty of non-AQs in action in Week 14. Now on to some links:

TCU has accepted an invitation to join the Big East, leaving the Mountain West looking like ... the WAC.

The debate over Boise State K Kyle Brotzman has gone viral.

After years of misfortune and heartache, luck finally finds Nevada.

Northern Illinois was expected to make the MAC title game.

Dan McCarney is set to become the next head coach at North Texas.

The Utes are enjoying their dramatic win over BYU.

San Diego State is working on a retention package to try and keep coach Brady Hoke.

The New Mexico Bowl looks likely for BYU.

Tulsa coach Todd Graham is proud his team overcame adversity to finish 9-3.

UCF and Tulsa appear to be the leading candidates to play Hawaii in the Hawaii Bowl.

What we learned in the non-AQs: Week 13

November, 28, 2010
11/28/10
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What did we learn from the non-AQs in Week 13?

1. Only one left standing. That one is TCU, the team everybody (myself included) counted out headed into Week 13. All anybody wanted to talk about was the inevitability that Boise State would pass the Horned Frogs in the BCS standings after a win over Nevada. Of course, we all forgot that Boise State had to actually win that game. The Broncos' loss kept TCU firmly in the No. 3 position as the only undefeated team from a non-automatic qualifying conference, still needing either Auburn or Oregon to lose to have a shot at the BCS national title game. TCU has one more week for that to happen. If not, there is a pretty good consolation prize -- a spot in the Rose Bowl, most likely against Wisconsin. TCU completed its second straight undefeated regular season with a 66-17 win against New Mexico and has won 30 of its past 31 regular-season games. The Horned Frogs were expected to win easily, but they had to do it without starting quarterback Andy Dalton, who left the game with a minor elbow injury. Whether they get a shot to become the first non-AQ in the BCS national title game or not, this season will go down as yet another success. Now the Horned Frogs have to win their BCS game. They lost to Boise State last year.

[+] EnlargeKellen Moore
AP Photo/Joe JaszewskiBoise State's loss ended any hopes the Broncos would play in the BCS title game.
2. Boise State was not up to the task. The Broncos became the most polarizing team in America this season because of all they stood for -- the swaggering outsider hoping for a shot despite their weak conference schedule. Critics lambasted their “three-game schedule.” Supporters pointed to their 24-game winning streak and recent record over teams from power conferences. But perhaps taking so many fourth quarters off this season caught up with Boise State on Friday night in Nevada. After the Broncos jumped out to a 24-7 halftime lead, Nevada dominated the second half. Vai Taua had 105 yards on the ground after halftime, and after an impressive performance in a 51-0 win over Fresno State, the Boise State defensive line got pushed around. Kellen Moore was off, and so were his receivers, who had several uncharacteristic drops. Yes, Kyle Brotzman missed two chip shot field goals, but it should never have come to that. Teams that deserve of a spot in a national title game don’t blow 17-point leads.

3. Nevada is for real. Now that Boise State has lost, the common comment from critics has been this: the Broncos couldn’t even beat Nevada. Oh yeah? Most teams in America would probably lose to Nevada the way the Wolf Pack are playing this season. Their only loss came on the road at Hawaii 27-21, in a game where Colin Kaepernick had four turnovers -- including one in the end zone. Nevada racked up 528 yards on the No. 2 defense in the country, and its Pistol offense gave the Broncos fits in the second half. Kaepernick is one of the most underrated players in America, and so is Taua -- the two set the NCAA record for most yards gained by two players in a career, breaking the mark of 8,193 yards set by Craig James and Eric Dickerson from 1979 to 1982. Said Pistol is now being copied across the land. Kudos to coach Chris Ault for leading the best season in school history.

4. History is made. Incredibly, improbably, FIU (6-5, 6-1) clinched its first ever Sun Belt title with a come-from-behind 31-24 win over Arkansas State on Saturday. The Panthers also are headed to a bowl game for the first time in school history. After trailing 24-20 headed into the fourth quarter, FIU got a 30-yard field goal from Jack Griffin. Then T.Y. Hilton caught a 42-yard touchdown pass from Wes Carroll with 1:42 left to seal the win. Coach Mario Cristobal took over a program in shambles thanks to probation and sanctions. Now he has a winner.

5. Conference title games set. Northern Illinois will play Miami (Ohio) in the MAC championship game on Friday in Detroit, while SMU travels to UCF to play in the Conference USA championship game. The Huskies have won nine straight and will be heavy favorites to win their first conference title since 2005. Still, Miami coach Mike Haywood deserves credit for engineering the nation’s best turnaround, from 1-11 to 8-4 and the league title game. SMU won the West in June Jones’ third year at the helm. The Mustangs may be slightly ahead of schedule, but there was no doubt Jones would make them a winner. That’s just what he does.

Nevada shocks Boise State

November, 27, 2010
11/27/10
1:56
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Fourth-ranked Boise State saw its BCS national championship hopes die in the cold of a Reno night, falling in incredible fashion to No. 19 Nevada 34-31 in an epic overtime thriller Friday night.

The Broncos had a shot to win the game with 2 seconds left, but kicker Kyle Brotzman pushed a 26-yard field goal wide. Now, the formerly undefeated Broncos can only hope to be co-champs of the WAC with Hawaii and Nevada, and head to the Kraft Fight Hunger or Humanitarian Bowls -- their dream of a BCS national championship berth crushed.

[+] EnlargeBoise State's Kyle Brotzman
AP Photo/Cathleen AllisonBoise State kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a field goal attempt to win the game at the end of regulation against Nevada and an attempt to take the lead in overtime.
Now, TCU is the only non-AQ team left standing.

Boise State came into the game with all the momentum. It had the nation's longest winning streak at 24 games and many thought if the Broncos beat Nevada in convincing fashion, they would pass TCU as the top non-AQ team -- putting them in position to sneak into the BCS national title game if either Oregon or Auburn slipped.

But the Broncos are the ones who slipped. After jumping to a 24-7 halftime lead, they were totally stymied on offense in the second half. Dontay Moch and the Nevada defensive line were able to get pressure on Kellen Moore. That was enough to throw off his rhythm. The Boise State receivers had several uncharacteristic drops. That included several from the normally sure-handed Titus Young.

Meanwhile, the Boise State defense had problems with tackling. Vai Taua was a rushing machine, and receiver Rishard Matthews came up huge. So did Colin Kaepernick, who called this game the biggest of his career.

After Matthews tied the game at 31 with 13 seconds left on a 7-yard touchdown pass from Kaepernick, Moore did what seemed impossible -- he completed a 54-yard pass to Young with 1 second left. That's when Brotzman missed his field goal.

Brotzman, the career all-time leading scorer in school and WAC history, got a chance at redemption in overtime. But he missed another field goal, this one from 29 yards out. Nevada nailed its overtime field goal -- by a freshman no less. Anthony Martinez made a 34-yarder for the improbable win.

You know Brotzman is going to be haunted by what happened for some time to come. This was as stunning a loss as there has been all season.

It was the first win over a Top 10 team in Nevada history. Kaepernick finished with 304 total yards and two touchdowns; Taua had 131 yards rushing; Matthews ended with 172 yards receiving and a touchdown, plus 44 yards on the ground and a touchdown.

Now you have to wonder what happens to Moore's chances of getting an invite to the Heisman ceremony in a few weeks.

As for the Broncos, they are in a three-way tie atop the WAC. The WAC doesn't have a tiebreaker system -- the league calls co-champions. Beyond the Kraft Fight Hunger Bowl, there is no order designated for bowl selection. So it's up to that bowl and the WAC to determine where Boise State and Nevada land. Hawaii is all set in the Hawaii Bowl.

Boise State still has one game left -- against Utah State next week.

As for TCU, the Horned Frogs remain at No. 3 and play New Mexico tomorrow. They need Auburn or Oregon to lose in order to slip into the title game. If not, they are headed to the Rose Bowl.video

Lunchtime Links

November, 24, 2010
11/24/10
12:00
PM ET
Enjoy your final serving of Lunchtime Links for the week with an extra side of gravy.

San Diego State coach Brady Hoke has met with a University of Minnesota official about its open head-coaching job.

Boise State kicker Kyle Brotzman has a leg up on scoring.

A look at the top 10 and how those teams' schedules and performances compare with TCU.

Starting right guard Brandon Campbell has been dismissed from the Marshall football team, days away from Senior Day.

BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall and Utah coach Kyle Whittingham have kept a professional relationship.

Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick says Friday's game against Boise State is the biggest of his career.

Fresno State RB Robbie Rouse broke his left hand against Boise State and will try to play with a cast on against Idaho.

Here is a list of potential candidates at Ball State to replace fired coach Stan Parrish.

Troy's seniors have some harsh words about the state of their team.

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