Photo courtesy of NCAA
Most have come to accept Boise State as a football power.
The Broncos have had 24 straight winning seasons, which includes 17 10-win seasons, two perfect seasons, 13 ranked finishes and four top-10 finishes. One might argue that Boise State officially thrust itself into the national conversation on this day 15 years ago.
In a Fiesta Bowl for the ages, Boise State capped a perfect season with a 43-42 overtime victory over Oklahoma. Ian Johnson’s successful 2-point conversion ultimately ended the contest.
Setting the Stage
Boise State was a perfect 12-0 as it arrived at University of Phoenix Stadium on Jan. 1, 2007. Despite a perfect regular season, first-year head coach Chris Petersen’s team arrived as more than a touchdown favorite.
Boise State was ranked eighth in the BCS while Oklahoma was No. 10. The Sooners were 11-2 and Big 12 champions. They had won eight straight games coming in.
A Wild Finish
For two and a half quarters, Boise State was in complete control. The Broncos led 28-10, but a touchdown run by Adrian Peterson in the third quarter and a field goal by Garrett Hartley on the first snap of the fourth cut the Oklahoma deficit to eight, 28-20.
An Oklahoma defense that struggled had kept Boise State off the board for six straight possessions in the second half. With the game on the line, the Sooners marched 77 yards to the end zone. With 1:26 to go, Paul Thompson found Quentin Chaney for the 5-yard touchdown.
The first two 2-point conversion tries were negated by penalties, but Thompson ultimately found Juaquin Iglesias for the tie. Oklahoma had scored 18 straight points and momentum did not cease right away.
After tying the game, the Sooners immediately took the lead. On the very next play from scrimmage for Boise State, Marcus Walker intercepted quarterback Jared Zabransky and returned it 34 yards for the Sooners’ touchdown. With 1:02 remaining, Oklahoma led 35-28 and was one stop from victory.
With just 18 seconds to play, Oklahoma went from one stop to one play away from victory. Boise State faced 4th-and-18 from midfield, but the Sooners weren’t ready for what was about to come.
Needing a stop, Zabransky hit Drisan James. Oklahoma defenders swarmed toward James, who flipped a lateral to a reversing Jerard Rabb. Rabb hit the sideline and outran defenders as he went the final 35 yards for the game-tying touchdown with just seven seconds remaining.
With the contest knotted at 35, it took Oklahoma just one play into overtime to take the lead. Peterson’s 25-yard touchdown run put the Sooners back in front, 42-35.
On Boise State’s possession, the Sooners were again one play from victory as the Broncos faced 4th-and-2 from the 6-yard-line. Again, Boise State reached into its bag of tricks.
Running back Vinny Perretta took the snap from center and lobbed one to Derek Schouman for the touchdown. For Petersen, another overtime was not an option. He went for two.
On the game’s final snap, Zabransky faked a receiver screen to the right side before handing the ball behind his back to running back Ian Johnson. Johnson sprinted to the left for an easy walk-in 2-point conversion.
Boise State had done it.
The final from Glendale, Ariz.: Broncos 43, Sooners 42.
Boise State started fast, scoring two touchdowns less than eight minutes in. After Zabransky’s 49-yard touchdown pass to James got the scoring started, Johnson scored from two yards out to give the Broncos a 14-0 lead.
Oklahoma answered with a first-quarter touchdown pass from Thompson to Manuel Johnson and a Hartley field goal early in the second quarter. In the final minute of the first half, Boise State increased its lead to 21-10 with a 33-yard touchdown pass from Zabransky to James.
Boise State’s biggest lead came courtesy of a defensive touchdown midway through the third quarter. Marty Tadman returned Thompson’s interception 28 yards for a score to give the Broncos the 28-10 advantage.
Oklahoma held the yardage advantage, 407-377, but turned the ball over five times in the loss. Iglesias led all receivers with six catches for 120 yards for Oklahoma.
Zabransky passed for 262 yards for the Broncos. Johnson led all rushers with 101 yards.
Following the win, Boise State finished ranked No. 5 in the AP Poll. In their history, the Broncos have three Fiesta Bowl victories. The biggest and most memorable came on this day 15 years ago.