Boise State Football

UPDATED 12:22 a.m. — Final thoughts from Fiesta Bowl stadium (in Emily Simnitt's Fiesta fan blog from Phoenix)

Tailgating at University of Phoenix stadium
Tailgating at University of Phoenix stadium

12:22 a.m.

They're turning off the lights at the University of Phoenix stadium here in Glendale.

A guy is rolling across the grass in some sort of steam rolling machine.

The pressbox is significantly less populated, too.

The chairs near where the band sat are in shambles and orange pompoms litter some of the stands.

Guess on which side.

I'm taking a momen to digest the victory and to savor being part of the biggest story, maybe ever, to hit Boise.

They'll be plenty of rehashing in the days ahead.

Boise State won't ever be the same.

It still feels like I've watched a movie (and the comparison to "Miracle on Ice" and other underdog sports formula movies are abounding here at Fiesta Bowl central).

But the expected ending wasn't the ending I expected.

I spent the last moments of the game with fans. I saw the joy, the tears, the joy, the tears and finally the joy.

All I can say, no matter how often you might hear me pine that American movies just don't have the same weight of all those depressing foreign films, I love a good ending.

(I'm just bummed I missed Ian Johnson's proposal to his girlfriend. Who knew the small-team-makes-good story was a romantic comedy as well?).

11:20 p.m.

Now that my hands have stopped shaking enough to make my writing legible, I went into the emptying stands to get some comments from fans beyond: "Yes, yes, yes!"

(Not that there's anything wrong with that).

I ran into the Wilhem family heading out the door and back to the house they are staying at.

They're planning to watch television coverage of the game all night long.

"That is the greatest game I ever witnessed," said Paul Wilhem, the dad in the group. "We went from despair to believing. It was the most incredible few minutes of my life."

His daughter Abby, 15, said, "Jared redeemd his entire career with that last play."

The family also attended the Liberty Bowl in 2004, which didn't exactly have the same outcome tonight. I got the sense that they felt a teeny bit burned.

But like many fans, one sad bowl loss doesn't quench the true blue and orange.

The Wilhems are planning a happy drive back to Boise tomorrow.

John Lewis and Peggy Sellman of Nampa were too excited to wait to begin their trip back to Nampa.

The couple planned to head from the stadium to the MGM Grand in Vegas.

"We decided we were too wired to sleep," Lewis said.

"What was happening?" said Lewis. "What was happening is that we were killing them. We did kill them."

But not without a lot of heartpounding along the way.

"We've got the heart," said Sellman.

10:58 p.m.

"Yes, yes yes!" shouted Robert Carle as Boise State improbably got that final two-point conversion. The rest of his comment was pretty much: "Wooooooo!"

Carle's sentiment was echoed by all the screaming fans around him, myself included.

Heidi Sears, a former BSU student who lives in Arizona, hugged her friend Tonya Robison while doing the screaming routine.

After OU pulled ahead just before the end of regulation time, I headed upstairs to give the other reporters a far different quote from Sears. Back when she thought BSU lost, she said, while beginning to cry, "I'm so sad."

At that point, Carle wouldn't even comment.

Then that magical touchdown happened followed by the most heart-pounding round of overtime I've certainly ever experienced (my hands are still shaking as I type this).

As Carle so eloquently put it: "Yes, yes, yes!"

9:34 p.m.

They just announced there are 73,719 people here.

We in the press box are debating the mix, whether the 60/40 in Bronco favor that Murphy guessed before hand still stands.

Now the consensus is more like 50/50.

Whatever the number, it sure is loud in here, even at the beginning of the third quarter.

9:09 p.m.

I just talked to Jeremy Stephens and Robert Carle, just moments before the Broncos got their fourth touchdown of the game.

"We're feeling great," said Stephens.

"What does that scoreboard say?" said Carle. At the time, it said 21 Broncos, 10 Sooners.

Now it says 28 Broncos, 10 Sooners.

Still, it's the first two touchdowns that Stephens said have been the best so far.

"Fans got riled up, got excited and the players heard us," Stephens said. "They're supporting the crowd. They want to give us fans a good time."

I think the football players themselves might be having a decent time, too.

8:07 p.m.

Can Boise State hold on to its lead?

If the rally monkey has any say, they will.

I wrote about the Gabriels of Boise and the orange monkey Ron Gabriel wears around his neck at games.

Once half time gets going, or you’re a stress case like me during the football game (I can hardly look up from my computer and out the window of the press box for fear I’ll jinx BSU and cause a fumble or something), click hereto watch Ron Gilbert explain the magic of the rally monkey.

Add that to the psychic prediction I got concerning BSU’s win last night at the block party and we should all have plenty of hope as the clock ticks down to half time.

I’m going down to check in with fans Jeremy Stephens and Robert Carle and their bright blue wigs.

7:13 p.m.

Boise State just got its first touchdown.

Make that the first touchdown of the game.

And where am I? In the stairwell trying to get back to the press box.

(I’ve walked about 10 miles tonight just trying to find stuff).

Anyway, I’m just back from checking in with fans Jeremy Stephens and Robert Carle, who drove up from Boise on Friday.

They left Boise at 8:15 p.m. Friday and arrived in Phoenix at 10 a.m. Saturday.

As Boise State gets its first down, I ask Robert what he thinks.

“How do you explain this?” he asks, waving his index finger in the air. “Can you just put, ‘Wooooooooooo’?”

My sentiments exactly.

4:59 p.m.

I tore myself off the field briefly to give all of you who can't be here an update.

First of all, if you're tired of pre-game coverage (or you want something to look at during the commercials, click here for a video of me inviting Ian Johnson to my weekly knitting and crocheting group.

Let me tell you, it's pretty darn cool to have this media pass. I was THIS close to the Broncos as they ran on the field and BSU started playing the fight song.

I also got an opportunity to talk with Gov. Butch Otter.

"This is a very exciting day for Idaho and Boise," Otter said. "It's euphoric to see everything going on here."

Interior Secretary Dirk Kempthorne had this to say: "In the last five months, I've been in 25 states. It's interesting how many people mention Boise State. There's a lot of Americans cheering for BSU."

Stay tuned for fan photos and more video (you'll like it: it's about the BSU rally monkey).

Until then, I'm back on the field until they kick me off.

4:16 p.m.

I've just spent the last two hours soaking up the sun — and the orange.

I've been hanging with Bronco fans like the Kents who flew down from Boise yesterday.

They spent today roaming the official BSU tailgating party where they scored the ultimate: Not one but two Taco Bell Fiesta Bowl heads.

We're talking about hats shaped like tacos. The trio (dad Corey, Nathan, 9, and Corey, 12) said they visited every booth, winning several orange Bronco headbands in addition to the taco heads.

"We bought tickets two months ago," said dad Corey Kent. "We rolled the dice and banked on BSU making it."

It's the only reason they'd spend New Year's in Phoenix. Although I'm telling you, all this sunshine ain't a bad way to ring in the New Year.

I'm going to go nurse by sunburn (and eat with all the sports guys at the media buffet).

But I'll be back with more videos and fans live at the Fiesta Bowl.

1:22 p.m.

Click here to get a taste of the New Year's Eve BSU pep rally (just in case you aren't already totally psyched for the game).

By the way, this is my first official post from the stadium. We saw one car with OU flags on the way and three with BSU flags. I'll keep you posted on who has the rowdiest fans.

Once again, Go Broncos!

12:34 p.m.

It’s tailgate time baby!

I’m getting ready to hop on the police escorted media bus to the stadium. Yes, you read that right. Police escorted.

I’ll let you in on the tailgating fun once I get there and get my laptop plugged in.

In the mean time, here’s some cheerful news from a psychic I talked to at last night’s block party: The game looks to go BSU’s way. Diane the psychic’s exact words when I asked if her if they will win: “I think so. It looks in their favor.”

She wasn’t picking up an exact score (the partiers were awfully loud last night), but she did say, “I pick up that they will have a lot of points.”

She also told me I’ll be written into someone’s will soon and getting a big promotion.

All the more reason for me to say: “Go Broncos!”

8:40 a.m. today

Last night I told you about the BSU rally monkey at Starbucks.

Here’s the rest of my New Year’s Eve in Tempe story.

Although the night was a little sad for me as it was the first New Year’s Eve in 12 years that I haven’t spent with my husband, it was pretty rockin’ to see all that orange packing the streets of Arizona.

It wasn’t difficult to meet folks from home and elsewhere who have converged in Phoenix to root for BSU.

(I’m not sure where the Oklahoma fans were last night. I overheard someone say they’d spotted a bunch at Wal-Mart, but I was unwilling to leave the block party to confirm that).

At a pirate café

Early in the evening I spotted some guys leaning over the balcony of a café with a pirate in the window, ala New Orleans.

Only instead of Mardi Gras colors, these guys were sporting bright orange hats.

Turns out, one of the guys is Kyle Stringer’s dad Phillip Stringer who had traveled from Humble, Texas, to watch his son play in the bowl game.

“We’re all excited to be here,” Stringer said.

Me, too.

At the pep rally

Perhaps the easiest place to meet up with a BSU fan Sunday night was at the late afternoon pep rally.

I ran into a former managing editor at the Statesman and a young man I talked to as part of a recent career day at Les Bois Junior High.

I also met Lisa Swenerton, Gina Onweiler and Gina’s son Casey Lopez who had traveled from Orange County.

Lisa and Gina are sisters who grew up in a family of six kids in Boise who fought over who would get to go with dad Bill Onweiler to the BSU games.

“We’re very excited to see Zabransky take it home,” Lisa said.

The sisters had brought their dad to the pep rally, but the longtimer 83-year-old Boise man had to sit in the back while his daughters cheered on the team front and center.

“He jokes that he couldn’t believe he lived long enough to see BSU go from wooden bleachers to national television,” Gina said.

On the streets

It was hard to miss Karen Sauer and her daughter Hailey walking down Mill Avenue.

The pair sported bright orange boas as they called out “Boise State!”

Karen’s husband and son both go to BSU and the family piled into a motor home to come down to Phoenix from Boise.

If you’re heading to the stadium to tailgate here in Phoenix, look for them.

“We’re BSU people, definitely,” said Karen.

9:03 p.m. New Year’s Eve

Happy New Year’s Eve from Tempe — although it might as well be Boise.

I’m spending the evening at the Insight Fiesta Bowl Block Party on Mill Avenue and the street is literally awash in orange and blue.

At Starbucks, where I went for a tiny pick me up so I can last until midnight, I met Ron and Marylyn Gabriel and Lynnda Gilbert, who all flew in to Phoenix from Boise on Saturday.

Ron stood up from his table in the crowded establishment to show me all his Bronco gear, beginning with the stuffed orange monkey wearing a blue jersey hanging from his neck.

“My wife made this,” Ron said, before pointing out his Boise State sweater and jacket and Fiesta Bowl hat.

Then he lifted his sweater to show off his BSU T-shirt.

Not to be outdone, Marylyn showed off her purse with a BSU-motif on the band, the orange and blue beaded bracelet she made herself with blue helmet and football charms and the funky orange cowboy hat she bought in Mexico.

Of course she was wearing an orange sweatshirt.

Lynnda even had on football socks.

And I thought I’d have to wait until the big game to see this much Bronco wear.

Now, back to the party (a girl can’t work all night on New Years).

Have a safe New Year’s Eve and check back early (but not too early) for more scenes from Sunday night’s rockin’ Tempe block party.

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