SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Boise State football coach Chris Petersen is like a card counter at the blackjack table.
When everyone else thinks he's gambling, he knows he's going to win.
The Broncos' breathtaking 43-42 victory over No. 7 Oklahoma on Monday night in the Fiesta Bowl included three trick plays in the final minute of regulation and overtime.
Some folks called that gutsy.
Petersen called it good football.
"I think of them as good plays — plays that will work," Petersen said this morning while returning from a Starbucks near the Broncos' hotel. "Especially against teams like Oklahoma… you have to do some deception-type stuff to have a chance."
Petersen, who is getting bombarded by national media requests, said most people want to talk about the decision to go for the 2-point conversion in overtime. The Broncos scored to pull within 42-41 and decided to end the game.
For Petersen, that was a no-brainer. Oklahoma had rallied from a 28-10 deficit in the second half and scored on a 25-yard touchdown run by Adrian Peterson on the first play of overtime.
Petersen didn't consider a 2-point play after BSU pulled within 35-34 with 7 seconds left, but Peterson's run convinced him he should.
"Oklahoma is one of those teams, they're so physical and it's just a matter of time before they impose their will on you," Petersen said. "So I knew right away if we got down there we were going to go for two and try to put an end to that."
The players liked the call, too, particularly when they heard the play.
The Broncos went with "Statue" — a play where quarterback Jared Zabransky fakes a wide receiver screen pass to the right with his right arm and slips the ball behind his back to tailback Ian Johnson with his left.
It's one fluid motion, a ballhandling skill suggested by freshman quarterback Nick Lomax when BSU worked on the play earlier in the season.
Johnson scored easily.
"When he said, ‘We're going for two,' " Johnson said, "everybody said, ‘We're going to take this game.'
"It shows how much faith (Petersen) has in us."
The Broncos also seemingly gambled by putting the game in the hands of sophomore tailback/wide receiver Vinny Perretta on fourth-and-3 from the 6-yard line in overtime.
Perretta lined up at quarterback and tossed a perfect strike to senior tight end Derek Schouman, who had a team-high eight catches.
It was the first pass of Perretta's career.
The play went against conventional wisdom — taking the ball out of the hands of the senior quarterback — but was one the coaches wanted to run all night from inside the 10-yard line.
"Vinny's a playmaker and we're throwing it to a guy that's a big playmaker," Petersen said. "To me, it was in our playmaker's hands."
The diciest play, Petersen said, was the hook-and-lateral — a play that had never produced a TD in practice.
Zabransky threw to Drisan James, who pitched to Jerard Rabb, who dove into the end zone to cap a 50-yard play with just 7 seconds left. Two more players were available for additional laterals if necessary.
The Broncos call the play "Circus" because it often turns into chaos.
"That one just took a lot of luck there," Petersen said.
Not that he was gambling.
To offer story ideas or comments, contact reporter Chadd Cripe at firstname.lastname@example.org or 377-6398.