Now what? Outside Oklahoma, those who went back to work Tuesday bleary-eyed from witnessing Monday night’s Fiesta Bowl didn’t have much to complain about.
For at least one day, the thrilling ending and biggerpicture ramifications of Boise State’s 43-42 overtime victory against the Sooners overshadowed both Ohio State and Florida’s arrival for Monday’s BCS national championship game.
Fresh off a wild game and wilder night, the Broncos departed their Scottsdale resort Tuesday to make way for one more college football game. A game some Broncos feel they should have played in, given they’re one of two undefeated teams in the country.
“We went 13-0 and beat everyone on our schedule,” quarterback Jared Zabransky said. “We deserve a chance at the national title.”
It won’t happen this year. The Broncos headed back to Idaho Tuesday, ready to begin plans on stadium upgrades, a possible contract extension for coach Chris Petersen and, if they so choose, plenty of chances to review their monumental plays.
Various Broncos spent most of Tuesday on national radio and television shows rehashing what will go down as one of the greatest college football bowl games of all-time. Web sites such as YouTube were showered with video uploads replaying Boise State’s three trick plays in the final minute of regulation and overtime.
The first was the ol’ hookand-lateral on 4th-and-18. Zabransky found Drisan James across the middle for 15 yards, sucked the Sooners defense to one side of the field and lateraled to Jerard Rabb, who went 35 more yards on the other side of the field for the gametying touchdown with :07 left in regulation.
It was a play the Broncos practice every Friday.
“You hope you never have to call it because it’s not a good situation,” Petersen said.
Then linebacker Korey Hall chimed in: “It doesn’t usually work,” he said.
The second tomfoolery came after Adrian Peterson’s 25-yard run put Oklahoma ahead 42-35 to start overtime. Running back Vinny Perretta threw an option pass to Derek Schouman on 4th-and-goal for the touchdown.
Then came a finale right out of boyhood backyards, a decision Petersen later said was “an easy call.”
Sensing his team was exhausted and unable to stop Oklahoma late, Petersen opted to end the night with a two-point conversion.
They went deeper into an already-thick playbook, and Zabransky called “Statue Left” in the huddle.
With three receivers to his right and Ian Johnson next to him in the shotgun, Zabransky took the snap and faked a throw with his right hand, then handed the ball off to Johnson behind his back with his left hand.
All in one motion.
By the time nearly 74,000 people at University of Phoenix stadium and a few million more at home knew what had happened, Johnson ran into the end zone untouched.
It was a play the Sooners said they saw on tape last week, but it didn’t matter.
“We kind of were in awe the way they did the misdirection with the ball,” Sooners linebacker Rufus Alexander said. “...They executed their plays. Hats off to them.”
Johnson launched the football into the stands toward his father, then the redshirt sophomore and 2007 Heisman Trophy candidate went down on a knee and proposed to his girlfriend, BSU cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, on national television.
“He’s a little different guy,” said BSU safety Marty Tadman, the game’s defensive MVP. “When you think about Ian Johnson proposing to his girlfriend, you got to think of the weirdest circumstance that he could possibly do it. I think this was it.”
The way Monday night transpired, an impromptu ceremony would have fit in.
“They should be up there playing for a national championship,” Oklahoma linebacker Zach Latimer said. “They should get noticed in the future.”