photo by Al
SCOTTSDALE, Arizona -- I had about twelve different opening lines rolling around in my head last night for this post.
Darn those Boise State and Oklahoma football players for rewriting the script about 15 times in the last quarter and overtime!
In what Mark & I agreed was probably the greatest football game either of us had ever seen (on TV or in person), and for Mark was, according to him, the most exciting sporting event he'd ever attended in person, Boise State blew a 28-10 lead to trail 35-28 with a minute to go, tied it up on an improbable "hook-and-ladder" play (I'd never even heard of that one before), and then had to do another razzle-dazzle play on a two-point conversion attempt in overtime to defeat Oklahoma 43-42 in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.
The game was actually somewhat of a yawner until the fourth quarter; the Oklahoma Sooners and their vaunted running back Adrian Peterson, who is no relation to the Bears' Adrian Peterson -- what is it about certain sports names that seem to repeat each other? I swear, there must be a dozen Ja(y)son Williams floating around pro sports -- played pretty flat, while the Boise State Broncos were doing their best imitation of the Bears' defense, scoring one touchdown after a fumble recovery deep in Sooners territory and another on a 28-yard interception return by Marty Tadman.
The half-and-half stadium crowd -- we were in the end zone, so in sort of a "mixed" area, with one side being all-crimson Oklahoma and the other being the garish orange of Boise State -- was fairly quiet most of the first three quarters; -- chants of "Boomer! Sooner!" (What does that mean, anyway?) and "Boise! State!" were about the only thing punctuating the stop-and-go offenses. That, and TV timeouts that seemed long enough for Adrian Peterson to break his collarbone again and heal it.
But when Boise State's QB Jared Zabransky did his best Rex Grossman imitation and put up a poorly-aimed pass that was intercepted by the Sooners' Marcus Walker for a touchdown that put Oklahoma in the lead, the Oklahoma fans (OK, we were rooting for Boise State -- as Cubs fans, how could we not love the underdog?) made the stadium literally shake. Or, at least half of it shake, as the orange-clad side sat in stunned silence.
Until the 50-yard trick play that resulted in the tying touchdown.
And until Peterson's 25-yard run on the first play of overtime put Oklahoma ahead again.
And until the Statue of Liberty play on the two-point conversion attempt ended the game.
Not to mention the marriage proposal (accepted) given by Boise State RB Ian Johnson to his girlfriend, right on the field after the game.
Exciting? You bet.
Now think about what people would be saying about this game if it had been, say, a national semifinal playoff game. It would be legendary.
And Boise State is 13-0. Granted, their quality of competition may not be what Oklahoma's, or Ohio State's, is, but they beat everyone they played. And if Florida upsets Ohio State, Boise State would be the only undefeated Division I-A team. So why wouldn't they have a claim on the national title?
A playoff -- probably among 8 teams -- is the best answer. Maybe this game will begin serious discussion.
About the experience -- we couldn't have had a better time. Despite dire warnings of traffic gridlock, we had no trouble getting in OR out of the parking lot. The stadium does look from the outside like a giant spaceship that's landed in the middle of the Arizona desert. Given its oval shape and the lack of other nearby landmarks, credit to the designers for putting huge numbers and letters near the gates so you can give yourself bearings when exiting the stadium. Inside, one nice touch on the aisles is to indicate which seat numbers are on which end of the aisle -- since we had aisle seats, we could go right away to the right aisle instead of having to pile over a dozen people.
The concourses are nothing special, though well-lit; they reminded me a bit of the Skydome (now Rogers Centre) in Toronto. In trying to walk all the way around, we found a bit of a bottleneck at the opposite end zone from our seats (the end that opens up to allow the field to roll out), but otherwise the concourses are wide with no trouble finding anything. The food is a bit pricey but pretty good -- I had a foot-long hotdog with chili & cheese for $6.75 -- and all the stadium employees seemed cheerful and helpful. There were no incidents in the stands as far as I could see and everyone seemed very much into the game.
Before the game I was pleasantly surprised to hear the announcement that the Colgate Thirteen, an a cappella singing group from my alma mater, was to sing "God Bless America". The Thirteen, named in honor of the 13 men who founded Colgate, have been singing across the country for over 60 years. And as noted above, apart from the many interminable TV timeouts, where the defensive players would stand around on the field, and the officials would wait hands on hips for the signal from the sideline, the game was tremendously exciting, well worth it, and that's coming from someone (me) who's just a casual college football fan.
The local papers here in the Phoenix area were comparing Boise State's season to what George Mason did in last year's NCAA basketball tournament. They have a point, but how much better it'd be if Boise State, say, would have put themselves in a national title game by winning such an amazing, exciting, exhilarating, compelling game as they did last night.
I-A Football playoffs, NCAA. Now. It's time.
I'll have today's top 100 post up this afternoon.