SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The entire country is reading and talking about the Boise State football team today, thanks to its stunning 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl.
The epic game that lasted 3 hours and 58 minutes didn't end until nearly 1 a.m. on the East Coast, but that didn't stop the New York Times from describing the win as "a defining victory."
USA Today made the game its top story, using the headline "Getting WAC'd" on its story that appeared in at least the Arizona editions. None of the other five bowl games played Monday — including the Rose Bowl between Southern Cal and Michigan — were on the front page of the paper's sports section.
Thousands of BSU fans who stayed the night in the greater Phoenix area, awoke to a front-page picture in the Arizona Republic of Bronco players Ellis Powers and Vinny Perretta celebrating the victory inside University of Phoenix Stadium.
The sports section ran nearly three full pages of coverage, with the top headline that summed up what BSU fans have been saying all along: "Boise Belongs."
That also was the sentiment of CNNSI.com columnist Stewart Mandel, who wasn't even in Glendale for the game. He was at the Rose Bowl, but that didn't stop him from filing a column that called BSU's victory overly huge.
"We saw more than just an exciting bowl game Monday night," Mandel wrote. "We saw a potential landmark moment.''
Mandel also talked about how changes in the Bowl Championship Series gave the Broncos a berth to one of the five major bowl games of the college football season.
"Not only did they get in the game, they made a major statement on behalf of their mid-major brethren that none of us will soon forget," Mandel wrote.
The Broncos' win, which also received headlines such as "Boise State wins a classic," "Boy, Oh, Boise" and "Broncos earn respect with improbable victory," gave BSU a 13-0 record. There is a chance that coach Chris Petersen's team could be the only unbeaten team in all of Division I-A — 119 schools.
Unbeaten Ohio State plays once-beaten Florida on Monday at the University of Phoenix Stadium.
"I'm sure there will be plenty of people arguing this week that if Florida upsets Ohio State, the Broncos, as the nation's lone remaining undefeated team, should be voted No. 1," Mandel wrote. "I'm not ready to go that far, but anyone who watched Monday night's thriller would have a hard time arguing that Boise State isn't a legitimate, big-time team."
ESPN.com's Pat Forde lauded Petersen and offensive coordinator Bryan Harsin for their trickery late in the game. The hook-and-ladder (or hook-and-lateral, depending on whom you talk to) play that ended in a touchdown and forced overtime, and the two trick plays in overtime are mentioned in every account of the game.
"They showed a career's worth of guts in calling one gadget play after another, rescuing Boise in a game it first had seemingly locked up, then had seemingly lost," Forde said.