GLENDALE, Ariz. — Boise State coach Chris Petersen made a point in the days leading up to the Fiesta Bowl that turnovers were going to play a big role in the game.
My, how he was right.
The Broncos built a big lead because of miscues by Oklahoma, then nearly gave away the game with three second-half turnovers before pulling out a dramatic 43-42 win in overtime.
BSU built leads of 14-0 and 28-10 because of turnovers by the Sooners. BSU defensive end Mike T. Williams forced and recovered a fumble by Oklahoma quarterback Paul Thompson that set up a touchdown that put the Broncos ahead 14-0.
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Safety Marty Tadman had a pair of interceptions, including one he returned 27 yards for a touchdown that put BSU ahead 28-10 early in the third quarter.
Tadman's first pick came on a play where an Oklahoma receiver was behind the defense. Tadman made a leaping grab.
"I saw him open and the quarterback underthrew it a little bit," Tadman said. "I was glad I was in front of that guy. He's huge, very tall. Glad I didn't have to do a jump ball."
The second pick came on a pass that BSU linebacker Korey Hall deflected.
"He's the one who tipped the interception right into my chest," Tadman said. "Otherwise, I would have made a diving catch."
Thompson was the main culprit for Oklahoma. He completed 19-of-32 passes, but the three interceptions killed any offensive momentum the Sooners generated. The three picks tied a record for most interceptions thrown in a BCS bowl game.
"I started off a little bit rough," Thompson said. "I made some passes I normally wouldn't make. I think I might have been trying to do too much, it being a big game. I wasn't really playing within myself."
The turnovers put a dent in OU's chances. Even as the Sooner defense was stopping the Broncos' offense stone cold in its tracks, the Sooners still found themselves playing catch up.
"The whole game we were fighting from behind," OU defensive end Larry Birdine said. "We came out flat and dug ourselves a hole."
The Sooners managed to get back in the game because BSU started playing the turnover game.
An Oklahoma punt deflected off the calf of BSU wide receiver Aiona Key, and the Sooners recovered at the BSU 11. Two plays later, OU running back Adrian Peterson was in the end zone and it was 28-17.
With the Broncos clinging to a 28-20 lead, running back Ian Johnson lost a fumble in the fourth quarter that stalled a potential game-clinching drive.
And after the Sooners tied the score, BSU quarterback Jared Zabransky made one of his few mistakes. He threw an out-pattern that OU cornerback Marcus Walker picked off and returned 33 yards for a touchdown that gave the Sooners a 35-28 lead.
"I was just being aggressive," Walker said. "I read the quarterback and jumped the route."
Zabransky said the support of his teammates eased the pain after the pick.
"After that interception, I had probably 10 guys come up to me and say ‘There's a minute left, you can do it."
Even though his team's defense surrendered scores late in both halves and again in overtime, Oklahoma coach Bob Stoops said that wasn't what cost his team.
"You know, the turnovers really hurt us," Stoops said.