Final score: Boise State 20, Wyoming 17 (OT)
Records: Boise State is 8-1 overall, 5-0 Mountain West; Wyoming is 6-3, 3-2
Why the Broncos won:They won a kicker battle — really.
Overtime often comes down to whose kicker delivers, and Saturday night it was senior transfer Eric Sachse who made the game winner for the Broncos.
Sachse made a 28-yarder on the first possession of overtime. Wyoming’s Cooper Rothe missed from 37 yards on the Cowboys’ possession.
It was the kind of heartbreak Boise State fans know well from some high-profile misses over the years, including in 2010 at Nevada and 2011 at home against TCU.
“We had a great kicker tonight,” Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said. “Sachse ... kept us in the game and was able to punch one in at the end there, and the other kid didn’t. That’s really what it came down to.”
Sachse, who walked on over the summer after playing at Division III Trinity College, never had played in overtime before but he knew the pressure those situations place on kickers.
He improved to 12-for-14 on the season.
“You can’t overthink it because that’s when you kind of get yourself in trouble,” he said. “... I was just telling myself, it’s going to come down to me.”
Sachse watched as Rothe missed. He celebrated with his teammates but had a little different perspective on what he saw. It was clear Rothe didn’t get a good strike on the ball as his kick barely even reached the uprights and was wide right.
“You never want to see another kicker do that,” Sachse said, “so I feel for the guy. But he’ll bounce back.”
Sachse certainly has. He took some of the blame for the 28-25 loss at BYU, in which he missed a 36-yard field goal in the third quarter.
“When you lose by three, and you miss a field goal, you can’t help but think that you had some part in that loss,” he said. “So just to kind of make it up and show myself that that was a fluke and I won’t let it happen again.”
Player of the game: Boise State junior linebacker Riley Whimpey posted a game-high 12 tackles, two tackles for loss and two pass breakups. His two tackles for loss came on Wyoming’s fourth-and-1 play at the end of regulation, when the Cowboys were nearing field-goal range, and on the third-and-4 that immediately preceded the missed field goal. And one of his pass breakups was a dropped interception in the end zone on the Cowboys’ first play of overtime.
Play of the game: Wyoming got the ball in a tie game with 5:37 left and drove to the Boise State 39-yard line with less than a minute to go. On fourth-and-1, Boise State called timeout. In the huddle, Whimpey said coaches told the players what play to expect based on the different personnel packages Wyoming might use. The Broncos figured out what was coming, Whimpey said, and he stuffed running back Xazavian Valladay for a 1-yard loss. “It was just an awesome fourth-down stop to be able to get as a team,” Whimpey said.
What’s next: Boise State plays New Mexico at 8:15 p.m. next Saturday at Albertsons Stadium (ESPN2).