10:15 PM ET, November 26, 2010
Mackay Stadium, Reno, NV
RENO, Nev. -- Two missed kicks, and Boise State went from being the darling of BCS busters everywhere to just another team looking for a bowl game.
After winning 24 straight games, maybe it was just not meant to be.
No. 19 Nevada roared back from a 17-point halftime deficit Friday night, beating Boise State (No. 4 BCS, No. 3 AP) 34-31 in overtime in a wild game for the Wolf Pack's biggest win ever. It snapped Boise State's winning streak and ended any hopes the Broncos would play in the BCS title game.
A win packed with meaning
Nevada didn't just upset Boise State -- it also shows how a non-automatic qualifier can continue to affect the big picture. Story
A game that the Broncos seemingly had in hand slipped away when normally efficient kicker Kyle Brotzman missed a 26-yard field goal with 2 seconds left in regulation and another from 29 yards in overtime. Nevada's redshirt freshman kicker, Anthony Martinez, didn't miss his chance in overtime, hitting a 34-yarder that touched off a jubilant celebration from a soldout crowd on the Nevada campus.
"We had a chance to win it," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. "You play two evenly matched teams, it usually comes down to a couple of plays. It's tough; it probably shouldn't have come down to that."
In the space of one bad half, the Broncos (10-1, 6-1 Western Athletic Conference) most likely lost out on playing in any BCS bowl. On the verge of playing in a big game with a win, they likely will be relegated to the Humanitarian Bowl, played on their own blue field in Boise, Idaho, or the Fight Hunger Bowl in San Francisco.
Nevada breaks through
Over the last few years, Boise State has jumped out to a big lead against Nevada. The Wolf Pack has come back to make it interesting before the Broncos hold on. Not this time.
• 2010: Boise State held a 24-7 lead at halftime. Nevada tied it at 24 and 31 in the fourth quarter before winning in overtime.
• 2009:Boise State took a 27-3 lead in second quarter. Nevada cut the lead to eight before the Broncos won 44-33.
2008: Boise State held a 24-3 halftime lead. Nevada cut it to seven twice in fourth quarter before losing 41-34.
2007: Boise State took a 28-14 lead in the second quarter. Nevada tied it in third quarter. The teams went back and forth before Boise State prevailed 69-67 in four overtimes.
That's good news for TCU (No. 3 BCS, No. 4 AP), which was at risk of being nudged out of an automatic BCS bid by Boise State even if it completed an unbeaten season on Saturday by beating lowly Mountain West Conference rival New Mexico.
Nevada won't get a BCS invite, either, because that is life for schools not in automatic-qualifier conferences. But that didn't stop the overflow crowd at Mackay Stadium from celebrating the improbable win by its team, which was a 14-point underdog and had lost 10 straight games to Boise State.
"It is the greatest victory this university has ever had, I can tell you that," Nevada coach Chris Ault said.
Nevada (11-1, 6-1) rallied from a 17-point halftime deficit to tie the game with 13 seconds left on a 7-yard pass to Rishard Mathews, who had two second-half touchdowns for the Wolf Pack. But Boise State appeared poised to pull the game out after Kellen Moore hit Titus Young with a 53-yard pass on the first play from scrimmage after the score.
Brotzman, who leads all active players in career scoring, pushed the short kick right, sending the game into overtime. Nevada won the coin toss and deferred, and Brotzman came out to try another field goal but pulled it left.
"To be honest, I was on a knee on the sideline praying, hoping we'd get another shot," said Nevada quarterback Colin Kaepernick, who passed for 259 yards and ran for a score.
Martinez, a redshirt freshman, came on after Nevada's drive stalled, then calmly stroked the ball down the middle, and the celebration began.
"We're a team of destiny," Ault said. "When he missed that field goal, I said, 'Here we go guys; we got it now."
The loss for Boise State was the first since the Broncos lost in the 2008 Poinsetta Bowl to TCU, and it came in the most improbable fashion. Boise State built up a 24-7 halftime lead and appeared on its way to a dominating win, but its offense stalled in the third quarter and Nevada began finding the rhythm with its punishing running attack.
After being held in check by Boise State's defense in the first half, Nevada outrushed Boise State 239 yards to 8 in the second.
Boise State came into the game second in total defense, allowing only 229 yards a game. Nevada had more than that on the ground alone, racking up 288 yards behind Vai Taua and Kaepernick.
Nevada was still down 24-14 entering the fourth quarter when Mathews took the ball 44 yards on an end-around to make the game close. Boise State then punted for the fourth time in the second half, and the Wolf Pack drove 93 yards to tie the game on a 23-yard field goal by Martinez with 5:14 left.
But Boise State came back on the next play from scrimmage to score on a 79-yard screen pass to Doug Martin. Nevada then took the ball and marched down the field to score the tying touchdown, setting up the wild finish.
"I'm at a loss for words," said Moore, who suffered only his second loss in 38 games as Boise State's quarterback. "Hopefully we'll learn something from this."
It was Nevada's defense that kept the Wolf Pack in the game, shutting Boise State out in the second half before Martin's score. But it was Mathews who was the star of the night, catching 10 passes for 172 yards and one touchdown, while running for another score.
Top 25 Overview
It was over when... Kyle Brotzman missed a field goal in overtime, opening the door for Nevada to win on the next possession.
Gameball goes to... Vai Taua, who carried the Wolfpack, rushing for 131 yards and one touchdown on a career-high 32 attempts.
Stat of the game... 24. The loss not only ended Boise's BCS dreams; it ended the nation's longest winning streak at 24 games.
Team Stat Comparison
|3rd Down Conversions||4-10||9-17|
|4th Down Conversions||0-0||1-1|
|FG||06:28||Kyle Brotzman 33 Yd||3||0|
|TD||12:38||Doug Martin 4 Yd Run. (Kyle Brotzman Kick)||10||0|
|TD||05:47||Titus Young 26 Yd Pass From Kellen Moore. (Kyle Brotzman Kick)||17||0|
|TD||04:20||Vai Taua 5 Yd Run. (Anthony Martinez Kick)||17||7|
|TD||02:59||Doug Martin 51 Yd Run. (Kyle Brotzman Kick)||24||7|
|TD||01:23||Colin Kaepernick 18 Yd Run. (Anthony Martinez Kick)||24||14|
|TD||13:01||Rishard Matthews 44 Yd Run. (Anthony Martinez Kick)||24||21|
|FG||05:14||Anthony Martinez 23 Yd||24||24|
|TD||04:53||Doug Martin 79 Yd Pass From Kellen Moore. (Kyle Brotzman Kick)||31||24|
|TD||00:13||Rishard Matthews 7 Yd Pass From Colin Kaepernick. (Anthony Martinez Kick)||31||31|
|FG||Anthony Martinez 34 Yd||31||34|
Nevada came into Friday leading the nation in average yards rushing on first down. In the first half the Wolf Pack struggled, gaining only 26 yards on eight first-down carries. In the second half they were able to control the clock and get back into the game, led by Vai Taua's 105 rushing yards after halftime.[+]
Nevada Rushing on First Down
Kellen Moore had been phenomenal this season throwing the ball downfield, completing 64.6 percent of his passes 15+ yards downfield. Friday versus Nevada, Moore had his worst performance of the year throwing the ball downfield completing only 2 of 7 attempts.[+]
Kellen Moore on Throws of 15+
ESPN Stats & Information