Boise State and BYU squared off Thursday night in a show of mediocrity more fitting for 1912 than 2012. Save the revolutionary blue turf, there was little to separate this slugfest from the brutish football games before the dawn of the forward pass.
The usually potent Chris Petersen offense of Boise State was held scoreless. BYU turned the ball over five times. It took 56 minutes for either team to tally an offensive score. Both teams combined for 461 yards. And the decisive moment in the game: a failed two-point conversion when BYU inexplicably went for the win with three-and-a-half minutes left.
Perhaps the sloppiness resulted from the short week each team had leading up to this big game. After all, BYU had to endure an emotional defeat to in-state rival Utah who managed to storm the field three separate times. But Boise State’s comfortable 27-point home victory over Miami (OH) would hardly produce an emotional hangover for tonight’s game.
Well, maybe it was just a battle of two impressive defenses? Don’t count on it. Boise State repeatedly missed out on easy points because they have no kicker who can dependably make 35-yarders. And BYU? Their two quarterbacks combined for 61 yards and three interceptions, completing only 42 percent of their throws despite frequently targeting wide-open receivers.
While all sorts of excuses can be found for this performance, the simple truth is that Boise State and BYU played bad football tonight. Both teams’ defenses have certainly played well this year and played solid games tonight.
But neither team should have scored in the single digits. And the game should have never been decided by a defensive lineman breaking two feeble attempted tackles en route to a pick-six.
This game was hyped as a battle of two of the best non-AQ teams in the country. It was supposed to decide who deserved a place in the top 25. But after 60 minutes of mind-boggling mediocrity, Boise State and BYU clearly demonstrated that neither does.
For the second week in a row, BYU had a chip-shot to force a game into overtime. But once again, they failed to do so—albeit this time by a highly questionable coaching decision.
Boise State has now failed to score an offensive touchdown in two of its three games. And its weak offense is made even worse by its inability to convert a simple field goal.
But at least one thing was made abundantly clear in this game. The non-AQ banner is no longer being carried by the programs who originally broke into the world of BCS bowls and national title conversations.
If a Cinderella is going to challenge the big boys in 2012, it is not going to be BYU or Boise State.