On Mountain High: Boise’s Big Blunder, New Mexico’s Magical Win


For the second straight year, the Boise State Broncos are kicking themselves after a late-season upset dashed potential BCS Championship hopes. I don’t care what you say or what your opinions are toward one player’s ability to win or lose a game, but freshman kicker Dan Goodale’s 39-yard wide-right as time expired cost the Broncos an outside shot at a berth in the BCS title game. Goodale makes that kick from the middle of the field and the Broncos win, plain and simple.

It was déjà vu all over again; a glitch in the Boise State Matrix. Undefeated season… gone. 35-game home winning streak… out the window. Mountain West conference championship… maybe next year. BCS bowl berth… teetering on the edge of unlikely.

“You don’t always have the ball in your hands, it’s football. There are a lot of different guys who are a part of this team. There were a lot of other opportunities, I don’t think we can just focus on the ending,” Bronco quarterback Kellen Moore said about watching the end of the game from the sidelines.

I know it’s hard to point your finger, or toe, at one player responsible for the loss but how can you not look Goodale’s way. He was supposed to help Bronco fans move on after Kyle Brotzman’s failures a year ago. Instead, after Moore had done everything he could, with a little referee assistance, to get the Broncos in game-winning field goal range everything rested on Goodale’s shoulders, or hips for that matter.

In case you forgot, Brotzman missed a chip-shot field goal against Nevada to win, and then another in overtime. But he was a senior; he could still hang his hat on his NCAA career lead in points scored as he rode off into the sunset. Goodale, however, is a freshman. In the kicking world, you are judged by the importance of both your makes and misses. Unfortunately for Goodale, he might not get another chance to make a big kick anytime soon.

In the spring, he was dubbed the next Kyle Brotzman, I’m unsure whether that’s a good thing after Saturday’s loss. He has a long career ahead of him that has clearly not started off on the right foot. When you look at the numbers though, is it surprising that when Boise State’s undefeated season came down to a simple field goal they couldn’t convert? Hardly.

Boise State has a high-powered offense led by the winningest quarterback in NCAA history and yet Goodale’s potential game-winner was only the fourth field goal he had attempted all year. As I watched him warm up vigorously on the sideline in anticipation of getting his shot a co-worker said “He’s been taking way too many practice kicks.”

And there’s the kicker, Goodale had most likely kicked close to 500 field goals in practice and yet had attempted only three in game situations. I’ll bet the Broncos ended most practices with a simulated game-winning field goal and I wouldn’t be surprised if, more often than not, Goodale drilled game-winner after game-winner… in practice.

In an ironic Hardy Boyz twist of fate, the Broncos BCS bowl prospects now rest on shaky ground as 10-0 Houston, atop the Conference-USA standings, is right behind Boise in the BCS standings. If this was 2012, Boise State would have an outside shot to get back atop the Mountain West standings and would then face off against Houston for the Mountain-USA faction’s championship game with a BCS berth on the line.

As of right now though, only one non-AQ team in the top-12 is guaranteed a BCS bowl game. If Houston wins out and the Broncos don’t convincingly beat the rest of their opponents, not an easy feat considering they still have upset-hungry Wyoming and frustrated San Diego State yet to play, the Cougars will jump Boise State in the standings and steal the berth the Broncos were almost guaranteed at this point last week.

Not only does Boise State barely control its own fate in the BCS standings, its chance at a Mountain West Conference title is also highly unlikely. Like CM Punk at Money in the Bank, TCU is going to leave as champs – the last thing the Mountain West wanted when TCU announced its decision to flee for the Big East – I mean the Big 12.

Lobos Win! Lobos Win! Lobos Win!

I’d like to put forth three sets of numbers for discussion: 1136-457, 237-14, and 21-14. The first set of numbers represents the score differential during former New Mexico head coach Mike Locksley’s disappointing 28-game tenure at New Mexico. The second set of numbers illustrates the futility of the Lobo offense and defense, recruited and installed by Locksley, with interim coach George Bradley at the helm. The third set of numbers, and perhaps the most important, is the final score from Saturday’s cellar-dwelling battle between New Mexico and UNLV.

Hey, if you can’t win them all you might as well on senior night. That’s exactly what New Mexico did, finally getting off the schnide and securing the Lobos first victory since Nov. 6, 2010. It was an amazing scene after the victory, players jumped into the stands, the sparse crowd rushed the field and, like they had just upset the top team in the country, everybody celebrated together euphorically at mid-field.

To illustrate just how much this win meant to Barlow and the 12 seniors on the New Mexico roster, check out some of the quotes from the coach and players following a victory that wasn’t decided until Demarcus Rogers scored from 2 yards out with 1:15 left in the fourth quarter and UNLV failed to get a first down on its final possession.

George Barlow:
“They never quit working. They never quit believing. They deserve this.”

“This game here was as big as any I’ve been a part of. I am as proud of them as any team I’ve ever coached on.”

Linebacker Carmen Messina:
“It feels great knowing we are not going win-less the whole season. We should have won our first game changing our whole season around, but it feels great to celebrate with our fans. My whole family and my whole town pretty much so it felt great to celebrate with them.”

Quarterback B.R. Holbrook:
“Words can’t describe it. You work so hard every week, and it’s like getting a monkey off your back and right now it feels awesome.”

Offensive Lineman Mike Muniz:
“I just want to say thank you to all the people in lobo country, thank you to the band for sticking with us no matter what. All these beautiful people out here who decided to come support us through everything. Thank you!”

“This is probably one of the most amazing things I’ve ever felt. Our offense and defense battled through adversity together and we came out winners tonight, it’s a great feeling!”