The Boise State Broncos remain undefeated, and continue their quest for a shot at the BCS Championship after a penalty marred game on Saturday in Boise. Failing to beat the spread, the Broncos struggled at times with sloppy play and penalties.
With eight penalties for 58 yards, Boise State was a combination of potent offense, stifling defense, and costly miscues.
In a very worrisome moment, Oregon State receiver James Rodgers was left motionless and unconscious on the field after a devastating blind helmet-to-helmet hit by Boise's Winston Venable. Yanked from the game, Rodgers appeared confused on the sidelines. The incident sparked tensions on both teams, and a series of unsportsmanlike conduct calls and personal fouls followed. BSU gave up 30 yards and a TD as a direct result.
The hit by Venable was not penalized. But Oregon State certainly was by the loss of Rodgers, who had earlier scored a TD on a kickoff return.
Reminiscent of the game against Oregon in 2008 when Bronco Jeron Johnson was ejected for helmet-to-helmet hits, BSU's reputation as a physical team is becoming legendary. BSU knocked three players out of that game with bell-ringing head shots, including then QB Jeremiah Masoli en route to a close victory.
With Venable's hit, it is becoming obvious that the Broncos have taken physical play to a new and very dangerous level, relying upon it as a key component of their winning formula.
Johnson's 2008 hit sparked complaints to WAC and the NCAA officials about BSU's use of helmet-to-helmet hits, and resulted in increased penalty calls afterward. Brain injuries among football players are increasingly being recognized in the medical literature and helmet-to-helmet hits may be a contributing factor.
Before someone is killed or paralyzed, the NCAA should once again take measures to curtail such hits.
BSU is solidifying their brand. They are now becoming nationally known as a very well-coached, terrific football team. Gone are the days when they were cute underdogs with an arsenal of trick plays.
The Broncos are now etching their mark as a taunting and physical team, so physical in fact that they are leaving players unconscious on the field, dazed on the sidelines and out of the game.