Boise State beat Utah 26-3 in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Wednesday night. Here is a quick instant analysis:
How the game was won: Neither team should be proud of themselves after their performance. Both were incredibly sloppy -- seven combined fumbles (six lost), missed field goals, dropped passes and penalties that negated big plays -- including a Utah touchdown. The big difference was that Boise State had a semblance of an offense that came up with enough big plays. That is not to say the Broncos were particularly good on offense. Austin Pettis fumbled a touchdown in the end zone; Titus Young had a sure touchdown but was called out of bounds because his right foot toed the line. Kellen Moore had two turnovers himself in the first quarter and looked like he was suffering from a Heisman jinx. But Boise State hit a bit of a rhythm in the second quarter with the help of its running game, and that was all it needed to win. As shaky as the offense looked, Moore ended up with another 300-yard game.
Turning point: Boise State had three turnovers in the first 20 minutes of the game. Utah scored a grand total of three points off those mistakes. As bad as Boise State looked on offense at times, Utah looked worse. Much worse. Those missed opportunities essentially doomed the Utes.
Stat of the game: 217-to-32. Boise State yardage advantage in the second quarter. Boise State outscored Utah 16-0 in the decisive quarter.
Player of the game: How about the entire Boise State defense? One of the biggest story lines going into the game was how Utah would play with Terrance Cain as the starting quarterback in place of Jordan Wynn, out with a shoulder injury. Cain was 9-1 as a starter, but he was totally harried and harassed all game long. Boise State had four sacks and eight hurries, and there was simply nothing Utah could do to slow the Broncos down. Cain finished 10-of-24 for 91 yards and was ineffective in the run game, with 19 yards rushing.
Best call: After the inconsistent passing game early for Boise State, the Broncos turned to the ground in the second quarter. Doug Martin ran for a career-long 84-yard touchdown to put Boise State up 7-3, and the Broncos never trailed again. Martin ended up being a huge difference-maker and ran for more than 100 yards.
What it means:Boise State ends its affiliation with the WAC with yet another 12-win season, though perhaps the Broncos wanted more after going into the season ranked in the Top 5. A heartbreaking overtime loss to Nevada was its only blemish. The Broncos head into the Mountain West with Moore and Martin returning, but many of its biggest play makers will be gone. As for Utah, the Utes had their nine-game bowl winning streak snapped. That had been the longest active streak in the country. They head into Pac-12 play with many of its best players returning on offense and defense, and should have a healthy Wynn back for the start of 2011. But it will need more offensive consistency. The Utes scored a combined 13 points in their three losses this season.