Kicker not the only one responsible for Boise’s downfall in Nevada

Nov 26, 2010; Reno, NV, USA; Nevada Wolf Pack quarterback Colin Kapernick (10) eludes Boise State Broncos defensive back Jerrell Gavins (4) to score on a 17-yard touchdown run in the third quarter at Mackay Stadium. Nevada defeated Boise State 34-31 in overtime. Photo via Newscom

College kickers are about as reliable as cell phone service in the mountains.

They’re just as likely to make a 55-yarder as they are to miss a PAT. And unfortunately for Boise State, kicker Kyle Brotzman fell into the latter category Friday night in Nevada.

Everyone knows the situation for Boise. Because of the conference the Broncos play in, they have to win out to have a shot to play in the BCS title game. And even then, they have to beat the one or two top ranked teams on their schedule, then hope those opponents go on to do great things the rest of the year, then hope hell freezes over, then hope McDonalds comes out with the McRib sandwich at the exact right time, then pray that their auto mechanics don’t try to screw them over when they go in for a simple oil change.

In other words: They have to be perfect in order to hope to play for a national title. Then they have to be lucky.

In 2010, they couldn’t be perfect. With the game tied 31-31 with 13 seconds remaining in the fourth quarter on Friday night, Kellen Moore heaved a beautifully timed deep pass to Titus Young, who somehow got behind Nevada’s defense and made a spectacular catch for a 53-yard gain. With one second left, the Broncos used their final time out and sent kicker Kyle Brotzman up for a cheap shot field goal to win. But he pushed the short kick right and Nevada had new life.

In overtime, Moore once again led the Broncos into field goal range and again, Brotzman missed – this time from 29 yards out. The Wolf Pack then drove into field goal range for Anthony Martinez and, like adding salt in the wounds of Boise, he converted a 34-yarder that couldn’t have been more down the middle.


With the loss, Boise can’t even claim to be WAC champions in 2010, although not that that matters. If they can’t play for a national championship, then who cares about the conference? Go ahead, Nevada – take the damn thing. The Broncos had their sights on a much bigger prize.

Of course, while Brotzman will play the goat, the one thing that cannot be overlooked is how Nevada was only the second team all year (Virginia Tech being the first) to challenge Boise in the second half. The Broncos had built a 24-7 lead at halftime, then their offense went completely stagnant until five minutes left in the fourth when Doug Martin took a screen pass 79 yards for a touchdown to give Boise a brief 31-24 lead. Other than that, they were completely shutdown by a motivated Wolf Pack defense.

Speaking of defense, Boise’s was completely worn down in the second half, which is something they didn’t experience all year. Usually by the fourth quarter their starters are standing on the sidelines watching their backups play because they’re up by three touchdowns. But on Friday night, they weren’t only in the thick of it, they were also being run over by the combination of Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua. The senior duo put the game on their shoulders and led the Wolf Pack to greatness. It was almost surgical what they were doing to Boise’s defense in the second half.

That said, Brotzman has to make one of those kicks. Maybe Nevada goes on to score a touchdown in overtime and they win anyway, but if Brotzman hits that chip shot at the end of the fourth, Boise escapes with a close call instead of disaster. Maybe they don’t play for a national title, but at least they’re still in the discussion.

Not anymore.

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2010 College Football Week 13 Picks

BATON ROUGE, LA - NOVEMBER 06: Head coach Nick Saban of the Alabama Crimson Tide talks with his team during the game against the Louisiana State University Tigers at Tiger Stadium on November 6, 2010 in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. The Tigers defeated the Crimson Tide 24-21. (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)

Finally the tide turned for me in college football. After going 1-11 over the past three weeks, I finally stumbled into some winners last week and went 3-1. Arkansas, Oklahoma State and Ole Miss were winners, while Michigan State won outright but crapped the bed against the spread.

Hopefully the darkness is behind me.

No. 2 Auburn @ No. 11 Alabama, 2:30PM ET, Friday
What an Iron Bowl matchup we have this year. For the first time in five seasons, the Tigers and Crimson Tide are both ranked heading into the season finale. Everyone knows what’s at stake for the Tigers, whose title hopes are on the line Friday in Tuscaloosa. Cam Newton has been Superman this year, but I think this is it. I think this is the day Newton lays an egg and a defense finally gets the best of him. Nick Saban is outstanding when it comes to taking away an opponents’ key player and there’s nobody more important to Auburn’s chances of victory than Newton. The Tigers have a habit of allowing opponents to hang around in the first half or worse, build a lead before stomping them in the final two quarters. But if they allow the Tide to build a lead on Friday, there may be no coming back for the Tigers. Roll Tide Roll.

No. 4 Boise State @ No. 19 Nevada, 10:15PM ET, Friday
The Broncos have averaged 50 points during a 10-game winning streak over the Wolf Pack and I don’t think their fortunate runs out on Friday. Colin Kaepernick is among the nation’s leaders in total yards, averaging 308.7 per contest. There’s no question he’s a tremendous player, but Boise’s defense showed last week against Fresno State that its often overlooked by Heisman candidate Kellen Moore. The key for me in this game is this: Fresno State nearly pulled off an upset over Nevada three weeks ago in a 35-34 defeat. Boise crushed that same Fresno team last week 51-0 on the “Smurf Turf.” Granted, Fresno played Nevada at home and Boise on the road, but you catch my drift. I don’t think these two teams are in the same class when it gets right down to it.

No. 5 LSU @ No. 12 Arkansas, 3:30PM ET, Saturday
The line in this game has me leery of a trap, but I’m not going to overthink this one. Ryan Mallett had a difficult time with the Tigers last year in a 33-30 overtime loss. He completed just 17-of-39 passes for 227 yards and an interception and I believe he’ll struggle again on Saturday. LSU’s offense came alive lat week in a wild 43-36 win over Ole Miss. Jordan Jefferson threw for a career-high 254 yards and a touchdown, while also adding his sixth rushing score of the season. If the Tigers can play mistake-free football offensively, they win this game outright.

No. 17 South Carolina @ Clemson, 3:30PM ET, Saturday
For all intents and purposes, this game doesn’t mean anything for South Carolina. The Gamecocks have bigger fish to fry next week in the SEC Championship Game, so does anyone really think they’re going to lay it on the line this weekend against a non-conference foe (even if that foe is Clemson)? And it’s not like the Tigers have nothing to play for; a win would enhance their bowl prospects and not allowing South Carolina to win on their home turf is all the motivation they need in this one. Stephen Garcia and Co. have put together a nice season, but I’m playing the emotional angle here. Clemson wins outright.

Season Record: 17-23. And just think: I had to go 3-1 last week just to get to 17-23. Yikes.

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