Boise State returned to the scene of the crime Saturday. Of course, that crime was the missed kick and missed BCS game that the Broncos suffered the last time they visited the "Biggest Little City in the World" in 2010.
However, Saturday would be a different result, though a BCS game is probably still not in the cards for the Broncos. After taking a eerily familiar 17 point lead to the half, Boise State came out in the third quarter a bit flat. In 2010 it was 24-7 at half time in favor of the Broncos, but they let it slip away down the stretch. It almost happened again.
In the end, Nevada (7-5, 4-4 MWC) couldn't pull off another amazing comeback win. But the Wolf Pack did make it interesting. Boise State (10-2, 7-1 MWC) was able to hold off the Pack for a 27-21 win, but not before making all of Bronco Nation a tad bit nervous.
So what did we learn from this game? Let's take a look.
1. D.J. got the party started. He finished it too!
D.J. Harper started early for the Broncos and never let up. On the day Harper ran the ball 24 times for 130 yards and one score. He was a force all game long, and got yardage when the Broncos needed it most.
Harper also snagged the Nevada on side kick late in the game and he held on for dear life. Harper is a big reason the Broncos took home the game and a share of the Mountain West Conference title.
2. Southwick has learned to dive!
Not once, but twice Joe Southwick took a dive. Of course, it was the right thing to do. One of them was a dive right into a defender in order to get a first down. Southwick got the first down, and it was nice to see him lower his shoulder and be the hammer not the nail.
During the game Southwick scrambled six times for a total of 25 yards, and his mobility served the Broncos well all game long.
3. The Defense is incredible the first half, but what happens at half time?
Boise State's defense played incredibly well on Saturday. In fact, they have done so all season long. However, after stopping seven opponents this season to no score in the first half, why is it that in the second half they sometimes struggle in games?
It might be a depth issue. But whatever it is, it sure does make life interesting for Bronco Nation. In saying all of that, it is truly impressive what Boise State's defense has done this year.
4. Add MWC Champs to the list of adjectives.
Boise State won a share of the Mountain West Conference Championship on Saturday. Of course, they share it with Fresno State, a team they beat, and San Diego State, a team they lost to.
However, with a 10-2 overall record compared to the previously mentioned teams, Boise State sits on top of the standings chart. Fresno State and SDSU are 9-3 overall this year. Shared or not, the Broncos finish with a better record.
How will Boise State do in the Big East in 2013?
5. There is some serious talent coming back next season for the Broncos.
Next year Boise State will be bringing back some amazing players. Not to mention, they will have an excellent recruiting class.
Just look at some of the names that you can expect to see on "The Blue" in 2013: Ricky Tjong-A-Tjoe, Joe Southwick, Nick Patti, Grant Hedrick, Jimmy Laughrea, Matt Paradis, Kirby Moore, Kharyee Marshall, Charles Leno Jr., Gabe Linehan, Dustin Kamper, Trevor Harmon, Spencer Gerke, Aaron Burks, Jake Broyles, Jonathan Brown, Geraldo Boldewijn, Travis Saxton, Matt Miller, Beau Martin, Demarcus Lawrence, Jeremy Ioane, Dan Goodale, Deon'tae Florence, Bryan Douglas, Blake Renaud, Tyler Horn, Lee Hightower (Maybe), Dallas Burroughs, Corey Bell, Troy Ware, Sam Ukwuachu, Darian Thompson, Dillon Lukehart, Taylor Loffler, Holden Huff, Jay Ajayi, Eric Agbaroji, Mario Yakoo, Shane Williams-Rhodes, Armand Nance, Jack Fields, Tyler Gray, Sam McCaskill, Chanceller James and Travis Averill, just to name a few.
Not only that, but the majority of those players will be around for two or three more seasons. It is truly an incredible time for Bronco Nation.
The Broncos played a great game Saturday. They held one of the most potent offenses in the nation to a season-low 21 points. It was a complete effort, with very few mistakes.
Penalties got the Broncos a few times, but they rebounded nicely. Look for this team to have an excellent bowl game, no matter where or who they play.
Most likely they will play in the Las Vegas Bowl against Arizona or Washington. Bronco Nation could hope that USC would be their opponent there, but it probably won't happen. There is also a slim chance that they could still fall into a BCS bowl game. However, when the word "slim" is used it means more like extremely, microscopically, "more than razor," "thinner than a hair" thin.
However, if 10-2 is a rebuilding year for the Broncos, then what can Bronco Nation really complain about? Not much.
Boise State, the coaches, the players and the fans can all be proud of what has been accomplished in 2012. Especially the fact that Joe Southwick has finally learned how to dive.
Southwick and the rest of the team did all of Bronco Nation proud this season, and it isn't over yet. Look for a great bowl game and an another incredible year in 2013 as Boise State takes another step forward.