The Greatest Game

I have to be honest, I have not been thinking of Null_Pointer much this week. All my spare brain cycles have been spent on analysing what many feel is the best ever game of college football by our local university – Boise State. I’m still in awe of what happened. Am I surprised that my team won? No. Sure the Broncos were the Cinderella team for everyone outside of the WAC, but to us Bosians, we knew they were damn good. What we didn’t know, was that they were capable of pulling off what arguably could be the greatest game in the history of football.

When you look closely at the many plot lines that converged on that day, from the redemption of the quarterback to the proposal on the field after the improbable overtime win, you begin to see that the story is truly the stuff of legends. The only proper way to fully explore the topic would be for Ken Burns to make a documentary with the narrator being that guy from NFL Films.

In case you missed it or are not a fan of football, read this Sports Illustrated article.

Most people will remember the trick plays and Ian Johnson’s proposal on live TV, but what should not be forgotten is more important. The Defensive and Offensive lines of the Broncos out played their opponents for much of the game. It was not until the final quarter of the game that the mighty Sooners waked up from their incredulous haze to mount a comeback that was sparked by a rare, bad bounce of the football that handed the Sooners the ball on Boise State’s front door. Had that chance event not taken place, BSU would have ground off the clock and won the game. End of story.

But fate stepped in, forcing the team with the most desire to step it up and play for all the marbles. Again, the stuff of legends. Don’t get me wrong, the Sooners are a great football team, they played hard after that and proved that they were capable of winning the game. They took advantage of a pick six by the BSU quarterback, forcing the Broncos to step it up again in the waining seconds of regulation play.

What happened on the last offensive play of the game for the Broncos was football at it’s finest. Forth and 18 yards, there are only two plays that have any chance of succeeding. The long ball and the lateral. How many exciting games have the underdogs tried either of those plays to win a football game. Countless. How many times has it actually worked. Very, very few. The odds are almost astronomically high against any offense. The Broncos pulled it off with perfect, execution and a balls to the wall run and dive into the end-zone. Proving again who had the most heart and who wanted to win the most.

But the Sooners were not out of it. They came right back, and scored first in overtime with a single play by their star running back making BSU look like amateurs once again. No one was surprised by how quickly they scored. That was what they were told to expect in the media and by the Sooner legend. It was a great game Cinderella, now go home before the clock runs out and your game turns into a pumpkin.

The Broncos battled back, like battle hardened veterans. It was ugly but it got them within reach of the end-zone and the game once again, came down to one play. For most teams, this would once again have been where the story would have ended. Another foiled run from the little guy into the big red mountain of Sooner defense that would come up short. Game over.

Not quite. When great teams step it up in desperate times, they rely on every team member contributing something to the cause. For BSU, it was Vinny Perretta. A walk on kid who played hard all season took the snap and tossed a single throw into the end-zone, over the heads of the much bigger Sooner defense for the touchdown. Once again, the Broncos had beaten the odds and scored on the last possible play of OT.

Much has been said about the attempt to go for two points and win the game. But it all boils down to confidence and execution by the BSU offense. In a scene straight out of a Hollywood movie, the little guys struck a sucker punch and put the game into the history books. The Broncos came to the line, showing three receivers lined up to the wide right. The Sooners call time out.

Coming back from the time out, the Broncos huddled one last time. “We just won this game,” said Legedu Naanee. Everyone in the huddle knew it. When they broke the huddle, they again lined up wide right. The Sooner defense was expecting some kind of a trick play, but the Broncos appeared for all the world like they were going to toss it outside and hope for a miracle.

Zabransky took the snap, back peddled and tossed an apparent pass, to his right. Nobody knew it at the time, but the South Paw QB tossed with his right hand. The defense lurched to their left to pursue the pass. “I swear I saw him throw the ball,” a Sooner defender later claimed.

Z then handed the football behind his back (in a version of the school yard Statue of Liberty play) to Ian Johnson who ran it into the end-zone untouched for two points. Game over. Ian tossed the game ball to his father in the stands and then leaped into the stands to greet his fans and his family. After a brief interview on live TV, he got down on one knee and proposed to his girlfriend, the Captain of the Bronco’s cheerleader squad. If this were a movie only Spielberg could have made that not seem hokey.

In a country known for appreciating the underdogs, the Boise State Broncos have suddenly become America’s Team. In the past two weeks, BSU has sold more team related gear than they sold all last year. If you too were inspired by the courage and determination of the Broncos, please get your official team gear from the BSU Bookstore. All proceeds go to student scholarships.

No matter what happens at the Championship game between Ohio State(1) and Florida(2), the 2007 Fiesta Bowl will always be remembered for being the best game of football this writer has ever seen.

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