When Boise State needed a big play, Thomas Sperbeck delivered.
But even an incredible performance was not enough to get the Broncos the win against fired-up New Mexico on Saturday at Albertsons Stadium.
The junior receiver had career highs of 20 catches for 281 yards. His reception total and yardage both set school records and were the most for a Football Bowl Subdivision player this season. Boise State’s previous bests were 16 catches by Tim Gilligan in 2003 and 264 yards by Winky White in 1990. The 20 receptions were most by an FBS player since Oct. 13, 2012 and the 281 yards were the most since Oct. 19, 2013. Despite the huge game, the loss was all that concerned Sperbeck.
“Honestly it doesn’t mean anything, he said. “Especially when you lose. What it comes down to is you either win or lose. We just didn’t pull it out today.”
Sperbeck became the 10th Bronco to cross the 1,000-yard plateau in a season when he hauled in a 31-yard pass from Brett Rypien in the second quarter. He went from outside the top 10 in single-season receiving yardage to second in just one game, as his season total stands at 1,210 yards. He needs just 6 yards to break Titus Young’s school record set in 2010. Four of Sperbeck’s receptions against the Lobos went for more than 20 yards.
“He’s pretty clutch in the majority of the situations he’s in when he has an opportunity to make a play, when the ball’s where he can get it,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “He’s been that way all year long.”
It wasn’t just offensively that Sperbeck made an impact Saturday — he did it going on the defensive, too. After New Mexico safety Markel Byrd intercepted Rypien at the Boise State 47-yard line on the first drive of the second half, Byrd looked headed for the touchdown, but Sperbeck made a shoestring tackle, stopping him at the 22. New Mexico instead settled for a field goal the ensuing drive.