Monson: Utes discover ‘Girlse State’ is one tough witch
Yeah, but ... what’s their motivation?
That seemed more than just a question surrounding favored Boise — or was it Girlse? — State at Wednesday night’s Vegas Bowl here, it was also a theme and a challenge, just shy of spittle to the face, for the Broncos in their match-up with Utah.
And it went far beyond the Utes tweeting silly little insults about them or woofing on the field at Boise’s players during a show of pregame bravado and stupidity. It went to the pride of a program.
Problem for the Broncos was, it took much of the initial couple of quarters to locate that proper drive, fumbling as they did three times over that span, losing possession twice, and throwing an early pick. Mixed in were dropped passes, penalties, and sloppy play that gave the Utes a chance to throw up a real threat. Utah, though, couldn’t take advantage, committing their own bunches of boneheadedness.
“When you play a team the caliber of Boise State,” Kyle Whittingham said afterward, “you have to be a lot better than we were tonight.”
Bottom line: Boise scored 16 points in the final eight minutes of the first half and moved comfortably through to the end, beating the Utes 26-3.
When BSU quarterback Kellen Moore hit receiver Austin Pettis with a laser touchdown pass midway through the third, giving the Broncos a 20-point lead, Utah’s lights faded to black. It helped the Utes not one bit that they never could get out of their own way, holding on TD throws, missing field goals, and turning the ball over three times.
What happened here Wednesday night taught us what we already knew: The Broncos are better than the Utes.
“They’re great,” said Utah receiver Shaky Smithson. “They compete. They’re fast. They can play.”
Nobody had doubted Boise’s talent as a team, as an outfit that was a contender for a BCS championship, right up until ... that unspeakable night at Nevada when the Broncos failed to nail down, at minimum, a slot in the Rose Bowl. With that loss, they settled for a dubious date with the Utes in a bowl brought to you by a car-painting business.
Uh-oh, better get a reason to play hard somewhere other than the Arroyo Seco.
There were whispers that the Broncos would droop at the prospects of playing at the oversized erector set that is Sam Boyd Stadium rather than at the storied bowl in Pasadena. Beyond that, because of finals-week conflicts, they practiced only half as many times as Utah in the run-up to this game.
Well. None of that mattered.
Boise State went ahead and found its reasons. It outgained the Utes on the ground, 202 yards to 107, through the air, 341 to 93, and overall, 543 to 200. The Broncos, apparently, were neither disheartened, nor bluer than blue to be in Vegas. They did play beneath themselves at times, missing on multiple scoring chances. But what does that say, when BSU isn’t razor sharp, but it still wins by 23?
Utah just couldn’t keep up, offensively or defensively.
“It didn’t go our way,” said Ute safety Brian Blechen.
With that, the Utes’ nine-bowl win streak slammed to a halt with all the subtlety of a Buick running lights-first into a brick wall at 60 mph.
Still, it was OK. This was never Utah’s game to win. It was all about the superior team — You-Know-Who — and whether the Broncos would betray themselves by ducking out down a back alley, running from the disappointment of ruptured expectations.
They didn’t duck down or out any alley.
They fell forward, playing with a purpose, if not complete precision, defeating an opponent that would have had to play perfectly — the Utes didn’t come close — to have any chance at all.
GORDON MONSON hosts “The Gordon Monson Show” weekdays from 2-6 p.m. on 1280 The Zone. He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
© 2010 The Salt Lake Tribune