SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Boise State football team is done asking for national respect.
Now it has it.
The No. 9 Broncos staged a nutty rally Monday night in the Fiesta Bowl to beat No. 7 Oklahoma 43-42 and take away the ammunition from their critics.
Oklahoma fills every hole in the Boise State resume. The Broncos beat a Top 10 national power that won the Big 12 Conference championship this season and entered the game with one of college football's most-celebrated players (running back Adrian Peterson) and an eight-game winning streak.
And the Broncos won in such a way that the entire nation is talking Bronco football today, and perhaps for the rest of the year.
"We've said, ‘We want some respect. We want some respect,' " sophomore tailback Ian Johnson said this morning at the team hotel. "We kind of just got some for all the people that came before."
The Broncos (13-0) completed their first perfect season as a four-year school, the crowning achievement atop five years of remarkable success.
They will finish in the Top 25 for the fourth time in five years, but will finish in the Top 10 — perhaps even the Top 5 — for the first time ever.
The Broncos also can finish as the only undefeated team in America if Florida beats Ohio State on Monday in the BCS National Championship Game. They might even get a first-place vote in The Associated Press Top 25.
"We're no longer this little Boise State team that comes from Idaho," senior center Jadon Dailey said. "This should prove to everyone that we belong with all the big boys, no matter who it is. Bring 'em on."
The Broncos blew a 28-10 third-quarter lead against the Sooners and fell behind 35-28 on an interception return with 1 minute, 2 seconds left.
They forced overtime with a hook-and-lateral for a 50-yard touchdown with 7 seconds left in regulation. They won with a fourth-down TD pass from tailback/wide receiver Vinny Perretta to tight end Derek Schouman and a 2-point conversion run by tailback Ian Johnson on the Statue of Liberty play.
"Those are things we've tried a bunch of times in practice," Johnson said. "We've done them so many times, we just know them and it's part of our identity. We're not afraid to throw the book at you. We threw the book at them a couple of times."
The game put a celebratory cap on a flawless season.
The Broncos beat four teams who won bowl games, and one ranked in the Top 10.
They trailed in the second half only twice all season, and they won both games on the final play. The other game-winner was Anthony Montgomery's 37-yard field goal to beat San Jose State on Nov. 11.
Monday night, the Broncos made that finish look routine.
"No one gives up here," Dailey said, "and that's why we're 13-0."