SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jared Zabransky won 33 games as Boise State's starting quarterback.
But it was the Bronco senior's final victory, a 43-42 overtime triumph against Oklahoma in Monday night's unforgettable Fiesta Bowl, that cemented his legacy — and erased some of the negatives that have marked his career.
"It would have had to (change my legacy)," Zabransky said Tuesday during a whirlwind day that included appearances on several ESPN shows. "Boise State fans are going to remember that over their entire lives and so am I."
Forget about his six-turnover debacle against Georgia. Forget his game-ending interception in the end zone against Boston College.
Forget, even, the interception against Oklahoma that Marcus Walker returned 33 yards to give the Sooners their first lead of the game at 35-28 with 1:02 remaining.
Zabransky, perhaps the most criticized player in Boise State history, wrote a new (and happier) ending to his career in the final minute by leading the Broncos to the game-tying touchdown and forcing overtime.
"He got that little monkey off his back," tailback Ian Johnson said Tuesday morning at the team hotel in Scottsdale.
Zabransky, who completed his Bronco career 33-5 as a starter, won offensive player-of-the-game honors — his third consecutive bowl game with such a distinction. He completed 19-of-29 passes for 262 yards and three TDs in the win.
"What a fitting way for it to end for him to come back," Boise State coach Chris Petersen said Tuesday. "It was a bad interception. It was. ... But the beauty of it is he was able to shake it off and come right back down the field."
After the interception, Zabransky's teammates tried to pick him up, pointing out that the return touchdown left the Broncos plenty of time to come back.
"You can't help but feel like you let your teammates down, but there was 1 minute, 2 seconds left and two timeouts," he said. "We had a chance."
Zabransky, who visited a sports phycologist in the off-season to help him deal with focusing on positives instead of negatives, delivered a new-found poise in the final minutes.
The Broncos took possession at their 22, and on the first play Zabransky connected with tight end Derek Schouman for 36 yards. After an 8-yard sack and two incompletions and facing fourth-and-18, Zabransky completed a 15-yard pass to Drisan James, who lateraled the ball to Jerard Rabb, who raced 35 yards untouched for the game-tying touchdown.
In overtime, Zabransky completed both of his pass attempts — both to Schouman, including a 10-yard hookup on third-and-8. Then he executed the two-point conversion Statue of Liberty play to perfection.
"It's still kind of sinking in. So many things had to go right for us. It was like it was scripted. It was destiny," Zabransky said.
And his transformation was complete.