The Boise State Broncos traveled to Albuquerque to take on the University of New Mexico Lobos in Week 5. It was a game that the Broncos were favored by as many as 26 points.
At halftime of the contest, it looked like Chris Petersen's crew was well on its way to a dominating win. Up 25-0 at the break, many folks simply assumed the Broncos would finish it off in the second half.
However, they almost let the lead and the game slip away from them. In the end, it was a very disappointing 32-29 win over a less-than-average New Mexico team.
Still, it wasn't all bad for Boise State. There were some good things that happened in the game.
Let's look at all the winners and losers from the adventure in Albuquerque.
Just nine days after a very disappointing performance against BYU, junior quarterback Joe Southwick rebounded nicely.
Against the Lobos, Southwick went 24/34 for 311 yards and three touchdowns. He also ran for -1 yards, but the big news about that is that at no point in the game did Joe try to slide.
There were still problems throwing the ball in the red zone. There was some improvement in that area, but he still overthrew two wide open receivers that would have been touchdowns.
Even with the red-zone passing woes, Southwick played a good game, and it should go a long way in helping him gain confidence and become the leader he needs to be.
Freshman running back Jay Ajayi announced himself to the college football world in a big way. Against New Mexico, Ajayi carried the ball just six times, but made those carries count.
On the day, Ajayi ran six times for 118 yards and one touchdown. That is an amazing 19.7 yards per carry. Of course, most of those came on a 71 yard run that was nearly a touchdown.
Look for more from Ajayi. Many "experts" and fans were excited when Ajayi came to Boise, but last year was a rough one for the freshman. He ended up having a season ending knee injury and some legal trouble.
However, he seems to be back, and Bronco fans couldn't be happier. He is just in time to give D.J. Harper some help.
Running back D.J.Harper had another great game. On the day, he carried 19 times for 98 yards with his biggest gain of the day being a 21 yard run.
Harper also caught two passes for 27 additional yards.
Another reason Harper is a winner in Week 5 is because he finally has some help. Against BYU he carried the ball 31 times, which is a bit too much. However, against New Mexico he split the carries with Shane Williams-Rhodes and Jay Ajayi.
Some much needed help in the backfield bodes well for the sixth-year senior running back. It should also be a good sign for the Broncos rushing attack.
The Broncos looked great in the first half against the Lobos.
Michael Frisina hit a 28 yard field goal to get the Broncos on the board in the first quarter. In the second quarter, Joe Southwick hit Chris Potter for a 10 yard touchdown and then threw another to Matt Miller for a 9 yard score.
The second quarter scoring ended when Jay Ajayi finished off a drive he started with a one yard touchdown run.
At halftime the score was Boise State 25 and New Mexico 0.
A big part of the success of the Broncos was their defense in that first half as well. They forced three turnovers, keeping the triple-option offense of the Lobos from chewing up too much clock.
In the second half, the Broncos started off on the wrong foot. On the kickoff, Boise State kick returner Dallas Burroughs fumbled the ball and New Mexico recovered on the Boise State 26-yard line.
The Lobos then capitalized with a six play drive that resulted in a touchdown.
What happened next was even uglier.
After a miserable start, the Broncos got things in gear. They drove down the field to the New Mexico 4-yard line. However, that was as close as they would get.
Coach Petersen decided to go for it on fourth down, but the Broncos came up short. New Mexico then took the ball and drove 96 yards for the score. Bronco fans probably couldn't believe what they were seeing.
The Broncos answered with a touchdown of their own bringing the game to 32-14. New Mexico, however, had a new found confidence. Their triple-option attack wore down the Broncos defense and marched down the field for another touchdown.
On the very next drive, Boise State true freshman Shane Williams-Rhodes fumbled the ball and the Lobos recovered, taking it to the 1-yard line. One play later, they scored.
That brought the game to its final score of 32-29, but it wasn't easy. Boise State missed a field goal then had to hold New Mexico. After holding the Lobos on a 4th-and-4, Boise took over and ran out the time.
Going into Week 5, the Broncos were ranked No. 24 in the AP Poll. However, they were dropped like a hot Idaho potato.
They are now sitting in the No. 27 spot, just behind Michigan State.
For some strange reason, the poll that the Broncos weren't in after Week 4 became the poll they would appear in after Week 5.
Boise State found itself ranked No. 25 this week after a miserable showing in New Mexico. They are ranked just ahead of Michigan State.
Robert Prince got a lot of blame after a horrible offensive performance against BYU. However, in Week 5, he fared much better.
Prince's offense racked up 514 yards with 311 yards passing and 203 yards rushing. He utilized many more players, and the Broncos had two running backs around 100 yards each. Jay Ajayi had 118 yards and D.J. Harper added 98.
College football is a crazy universe. One week a coach is on the hot seat, the next week he is sitting on a throne. For Prince, he is probably wise not to get too comfortable in either place this season.
The first half defense was as good as it has been all year against the Lobos. The second half defense, however, not so much.
Bronco fans probably don't need to sweat it too much. The triple-option is very hard to defend when the offense and special teams are fumbling the ball in horrible areas.
Look for the Boise State defense to rebound nicely next week versus Southern Miss.
Boise State has been known as the "giant killer" in recent years. However, this year, they are the vulnerable giants themselves.
The close win over New Mexico is probably similar to a few drops of blood in the waters when a shark is nearby. It may give other teams in the Mountain West a bit more confidence when playing the Broncos.
However, coach Chris Petersen has often said he likes to be the underdog or the overlooked. While he might not get either this season, he may have the luxury of using all of this as motivation to make the blue chip on his players shoulders just a little bit bigger.
Boise State head coach Chris Petersen is a master at using real life experiences to teach his team a valuable lesson.
When Petersen was quoted in an Associated Press article in the Washington Post about this very thing, he said:
You never let a team off the hook. I will give all credit to New Mexico; they took advantage and made plays. It was hard and we fumbled and they capitalized. It can change fast, and I hope this team learns that.
With 15 new starters this season, valuable lessons that don't cost you a game are valuable indeed. Petersen's young team was fortunate to take home a victory and a huge lesson all in one.