The 2007 Fiesta Bowl: How The DAWGS Helped Boise State Beat Oklahoma.

Gray GhostSenior Writer IAugust 29, 2008

That’s my mailbox here in Idaho. As far as I know, it is the only Georgia mailbox in the entire state.

I put it up shortly after the Dawgs spanked Boise State pretty thoroughly in Athens. There wasn’t much southern hospitality shown in that game, and I did receive my share of unfavorable comments about my mailbox display.

In reality, Boise State fans should realize that the road to the Fiesta Bowl victory began that humid September day in Sanford Stadium.

What happened to them that day helped prepare them for the biggest stage and the most important game they ever played, but we’ll get to that in a minute.

Almost 3 years ago I moved from my beloved Georgia all the way across the fruited plain to the high desert of Idaho—the Treasure Valley to be exact. The capital city of Boise is located here in the valley.

It was quite a trip for the six of us who made it. We left Georgia on a Monday and arrived in Idaho the next Saturday night. I won’t bore you with details of our trip, but if you’re ever in Amarillo, eat at the Big Texan.

The worst part of such a move is leaving friends of a lifetime, people whose lives were intertwined with my own. I also miss fishing the salt-water rivers that snake their way along the coastline.

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The best part of such a move is leaving the humidity, the sand-gnats, and the huge mosquitoes that are considered to be the state bird of Georgia.

Once we got settled, it didn’t take long to realize that some things were different from what we were used to “back home”. We found out that in Idaho you cook on a barbecue (a grill), back home we ate barbecue.

All I have to do in a store is say the word “Y'all” and I am immediately surrounded by people from the South who have been longing to hear someone speak proper English. People here still stare at me when I tell them that “I’m fixin” to do something.

On the trip out, my boys and I talked about college football, and whether we would be able to hear Larry Munson, “The Legendary Voice of the Georgia Bulldogs”, plead the Dawgs to victory again.

We quickly found out that the people here shared our love of college football, and, even though the blue and orange reminded us of the Gators, we appreciated their loyalty to their beloved Boise State Bronco’s.

We were aware of Boise State and had followed them in 2004 when they had an 11-1 record, won the WAC, and lost to a tough Louisville team (44-40) in the Liberty Bowl. They were led by a young gunslinger of a QB named Jared Zabransky.

It didn’t take us long to enjoy some games on the blue field, and to experience the passion that the greater-Boise area exhibited for the Broncos. Though small by SEC standards, the stadium is always packed and very enthusiastic.

2005 saw them go 9-4, win the WAC, and lose the MPC Computers Bowl to Boston College (27-21). It was a tough year that began by them getting blasted 48-13 by my Dawgs. It was a lesson they would not soon forget.

In football, as in life, you can allow defeat to become a final resting place, or you can use it as a stepping stone to better things. When hard times come, it pays to take good notes. You’ll need them the next time you face a similar situation.

That time wasn’t far down the road for Boise State.

In 2006, the Bronco’s went 13-0, and won the WAC. I was at the game when BSU waxed Oregon State by a score of 42-14. It was Ian Johnson’s breakout game with 261 yards rushing and 5 touchdowns. The Beavers went on to defeat 3rd ranked USC, and beat Missouri (39-38) in the Sun Bowl.

The game, of course, was the Fiesta Bowl, in which BSU beat Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime. While much has been made of the “trick” plays, the Broncos played solid football from start to finish and were especially impressive on their offensive line.

This was a far cry from the shell-shocked team that was blown away in Georgia. It was evident from the moment they walked on the field that they were not intimidated by their surroundings, or their opponent.

I have no doubt that Boise State drew from their experience between the hedges when they faced a SEC powerhouse, and had 92,746 rabid fans screaming down on them. The next time they faced such a predicament was at the Fiesta Bowl.

With the nation watching, they played the mighty Sooners and matched them blow for blow—and then some. Give them, and their coaches, credit for learning from their past mistakes, and for being ready to play their best game when it mattered most.

Who knows? If not for that fateful day between the hedges, maybe Boise State wouldn’t have been veterans to the pressure that they faced under the Arizona lights. They sure acted like they had been there before.

Tomorrow, August 30th, is my birthday, and my boys are taking me to a ballgame. No, we aren't going to Athens. That is too far and too expensive. I'll catch the Dawgs on TV.

I am going to watch my team away from “home” play. Somewhere in the stands above the blue turf, there will be an old Dawg cheering the Broncos to victory.



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