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Boise State Broncos season recap

12/7/2010

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.