I knew this was going to be a difficult game for the Utes to win. Boise State, as I've said the past couple of weeks, is a legitimate national champion contender. I believe they are capable of beating any team on any given Saturday.
But they proved against Nevada they are not unstoppable. Unfortunately, when you're playing a team who does nothing but shoots itself in the foot over and over again, that is exactly how they looked.
Utah entered this game with about as much passion as I've ever seen. They forced a fumble on the Broncos' first drive and set the tone early that this game was not going to be easily won by Boise State - at least for a quarter, anyway.
Except someone forgot to tell the offense, specifically the receivers, because each time the Utes' defense made a spectacular play, the offense floundered. Oh sure, they had their chances - but for whatever reason, Utah's receivers forgot one of the most crucial points of their position - you've got to catch the freaking ball!
Dropped passes dictated much of this game from Utah's side and took all the momentum the defense had created and pissed it away in one fell swoop.
At one point, the Utes had forced a fumble, missed the field goal, forced a three and out, dropped a sure-fire touchdown positioning pass and then turned the ball over. This was repeated on pretty much every possession Utah had in the first quarter and it netted them an amazing three points.
Instead of the Utes being up 21-0 or even 17-0, they had a meager three point edge. That was a concern because you knew the Bronco offense was going to find its groove sooner or later and that's exactly what happened. After Utah once again blew an opportunity to score on a turnover, the Broncos managed their first touchdown and the game pretty much ended at that point.
The result? A blowout bowl loss - not because the Broncos overpowered Utah, but because the Utes made mistake after mistake and against a great team like Boise State, that will always doom you.
That is the terrible truth about tonight's game. The Broncos are an extremely talented and well-coached team. It showed, as they kept their composure and made the plays needed to win the game.
Utah, though, looked completely disorganized out there. Dropped passes aside, this team killed itself with stupid penalties and horrid play calling that goes down as some of the worst I've seen (like on 3rd and goal from the 10, with the game still not lost, the Utes decide to keep it on the ground...WTF?).
Like I said, I knew this was going to be a tough game. I just expected Utah to play better than they did. The mental mistakes all around made this an easy Boise State victory and because of that, I can't help but show my disgust in the coaching staff for not properly preparing this team to fight. Sure, the defense was on its game that first quarter - but they needed some help from the offense. It just wasn't there.
Now the season ends and for the first time since 1996, Utah loses a bowl game. The streak was going to come to an end sooner or later - I just expected a bigger fight and more solid play than this. Especially from Kyle Whittingham, who has shown over the years he knows how to prep a team for a big bowl game.
Not tonight, though. He was thoroughly out-coached by Chris Petersen and though the Broncos had the talent to easily beat Utah, the lack of any type of consistency on offense and the awful offensive performance tonight was not because of Boise State's talent. That was because our coaches and players were not prepared for this game, at least offensively.
If they were, the wide-open passes wouldn't have been dropped, the penalties wouldn't have piled up and Utah may have very well won this game.
But because of those issues and errors, the better coached team did.
This was not a game that should have been a blowout. Not with how many turnovers the defense created.
Yet it was and that's something the coaches will have to carry with them the remainder of the winter and into spring camp and eventually into the start of the 2011 season. Now hopefully they shore up their offensive problems, or I'm afraid we're in for a great deal more of these games in the new Pac-12 Conference.