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Nevada’s payoff small for such a big win
RENO, NEV. (AP) - The payoff for Nevada may come later, perhaps in the form of a few top recruits _ or some grudging recognition from those watching nationally that the Wolf Pack belong in the Top 25 after all.
Beating No. 3 Boise State in a game the 19th-ranked Wolf Pack was never supposed to win was the biggest thing to happen in this gambling city in quite some time. It may have been the biggest sports story here since Jack Johnson beat up on Jim Jeffries 100 years ago in a heavyweight title fight.
It certainly was a boost for a longtime coach whose only previous claim to fame was that he invented the increasingly popular pistol offense.
“It is the greatest victory this university has ever had, I can tell you that,” coach Chris Ault said. “The way it happened is just an unbelievable feeling.”
Play in the puny Western Athletic Conference, though, and the benefits can be limited. In Nevada’s case, that means the Wolf Pack’s only tangible rewards may be an improved rating and a trip to New Mexico for a bowl game that exists only to fill a few hours of television time for people taking a break from Christmas shopping.
It could be worse. At least Nevada fans get to celebrate a job well done.
Boise State’s faithful can only wonder what might have been as any hopes of a national title game or even a BCS bowl bid evaporated, when a kicker who had only missed three times all year whiffed on two short field goals. Final score in overtime: Nevada 34, Boise State 31. Suddenly, the annual BCS debate got a lot easier.
Had things gone right for the Broncos on what will always be known in Idaho as Black Friday, they might have been making travel plans for Jan. 10 in Arizona or perhaps the Rose Bowl on New Year's Day. Instead, their 24-game winning streak is over, their reputation has taken a hit, and the consolation bowl they’re headed for has none of the glamor of the ones the big schools play in.
And coach Chris Petersen still isn’t acknowledging what might have been.
“We still have another game next week,” said Petersen, whose 10-1 Broncos will face Utah State. “We said all along, at the end of the season we will see where we are and go from there.”
For the better part of three quarters Friday night it looked like Boise State would go places that small schools aren’t supposed to go in the BCS system. Up 24-7 at half, the Broncos were playing with the cool efficiency that made them the darling of BCS busters everywhere and seemed headed for their 25th straight win.
Then Nevada’s vaunted ground game started grinding out the yards and the pistol offense stopped firing blanks. Quarterback Colin Kaepernick began hitting passes, and Vai Taua started getting big chunks of yardage up the middle.
Against a defense that was No. 1 in the nation against the run, the Wolf Pack ran at will. Nevada outgained Boise State 239-8 on the ground in the second half, rallying to tie the game not once, but twice, before the Broncos struck with a long pass with just 2 seconds left to set up what appeared to be a winning field goal from 26 yards.
Senior kicker Kyle Brotzman, though, missed wide right. Then he pulled one left on the first possession in overtime.
And a freshman kicker from a local high school made Boise State pay dearly. Anthony Martinez, who earlier had a field goal try blocked, calmly kicked a 34-yarder through the uprights, and the celebration was on.
An America drowning in red ink is the land of the free no more
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