The Boise State Broncos fell to 8-5 overall after a 38-23 loss to Oregon State in the Sheraton Hawaii Bowl.
The game started fine for the Broncos, but after the Beavers returned two first-half fumbles for touchdowns, it was clear BSU was in trouble.
By halftime, it was 31-6 in favor of OSU, and it didn't get much better in the second half.
The Broncos made it look respectable by at least getting into the end zone in the second half, but they never really had a chance in the game.
On paper, the loss didn't look so lopsided. On the night, the Broncos had 537 yards of offense and 28 first downs. By comparison, Oregon State had 454 yards of offense with 22 first downs.
The real difference was the turnovers.
It was a convincing loss that brought some painful lessons for the Broncos. Let's look closer at some of those lessons, and try to figure out what it might mean for the team and its future.
With Grant Hedrick at quarterback, the Broncos have struggled on opening drives. However, against Oregon State, the Broncos actually put up some points.
Hedrick led the Broncos on a 12-play, 67-yard opening drive that looked impressive. The only negative thing about the drive was that it only resulted in three points.
Of course, that was still much better than some of Hedrick's opening drives this season.
Unfortunately for the Broncos, it wasn't a sign of things to come.
Against the Beavers, the Broncos secondary didn't look much better than it has for most of the season.
Donte Deayon was the lone bright spot, but the rest of the secondary spent the game trying to keep up.
New defensive coordinator Marcel Yates is going to have his work cut out for him with the problems back there.
However, if anyone can do it, it is Yates.
Late in the first quarter, the Broncos were on their own 6-yard line. They called a pass play on second down.
Grant Hedrick dropped back to throw, but had to scramble out of the end zone to avoid a safety.
He forgot to bring the ball with him.
Hedrick has had a problem with turnovers this season. Against Oregon State, the same issue came up.
He will need to get a handle on that by next season if he wants to win the starting job.
One of the bright spots of this game was kicker Dan Goodale.
Goodale hit three field goals on the night, and one of them was into the wind from 42 yards out.
As much trouble as Boise State has had kicking, Goodale continues to improve and impress. He did miss a crucial kick against San Diego State this season, but if he continues to kick like he did in Hawaii, that kick will be a thing of the past.
Donte Deayon grabbed his sixth interception of the season in this game. It was truly an impressive catch.
Deayon had to turn his entire body around just before the sideline and drag his foot along the turf to stay in bounds while holding on to the ball.
Incredible interception by Broncos Donte Deayon http://t.co/W6bLFUMEyH— Martin Sondermann (@Gamedayreporter) December 25, 2013
If Deayon continues to play at this level, he is going to be a monster in 2014.
The Broncos did it to themselves—again.
Two costly turnovers in the first half resulted in the Oregon State defense scooping up the ball and scoring both times.
It would have been hard enough to win this game without giving the Beavers 14 free points.
With those points, the task became nearly impossible.
Sure, it's Christmas, but someone forgot to tell the Broncos that giving gifts could have waited until after the game.
Not only did Boise State have to enter this bowl game in the shadow of losing its head coach, but the controversy that erupted over Joe Southwick being suspended was a huge distraction the Broncos didn't need.
— KTVB.COM (@KTVB) December 23, 2013
You have to imagine it had an affect on this team, which is really too bad because a bowl game should be a reward for a team.
This one didn't feel like that.
The last time Boise State played in the Hawaii Bowl, they had just finished up a disappointing season in which they lost a game in the regular season that could have given them a conference title.
The Broncos met East Carolina in the 2007 Hawaii Bowl. They were embarrassed in that game as well. It probably wasn't as bad as this time around, though. They did come back from a huge lead that the Pirates had built in that game, but in the end it was a 41-38 loss.
Many who watched that game thought the Broncos weren't ready to play.
Fast forward to 2013, and it looks like it might have been the same thing all over again.
The distractions were greater this time around as well.
Maybe next time the Hawaii Bowl comes calling, the Broncos should rethink saying yes.
When Chris Petersen left Boise, it meant more to the community than just losing a man.
It also meant more to the team than just losing a coach.
Petersen embraced Boise, and Boise embraced Petersen and his family. He worked hard to make sure his team played well, but he also spent time preparing young men to become good men.
If Petersen was with the Broncos in Hawaii, the Southwick debacle probably wouldn't have happened. The team probably wouldn't have been dominated like they were, either.
The truth is, we will never know. However, one thing is for sure—the Broncos and the city of Boise miss Petersen.
After Petersen departed, finding the next man up was a huge task.
Whoever it was, they wouldn't be asked to be Petersen, they would only be asked to bring a new vision that was desperately needed.
When it was announced that Bryan Harsin would be the new head coach, it didn't take fans long to realize the right man was hired for the job.
Great day to be a Bronco! Attack the future! #BleedBlue
— Coach Bryan Harsin (@bryanharsin) December 19, 2013
Harsin is dedicated to "attacking the future."
He has already begun to hire impressive assistant coaches, and it looks like he will have a great staff.
For all of those fans who suffered through the 2013 season, the painful coaching transition and the Hawaii Bowl, just know that help is on the way.
If nothing else, the Hawaii Bowl taught us that Bryan Harsin is sorely needed right now in Bronco Nation.
Now that this season is done, it is time for the Harsin era to begin.