All the dominoes seemed to fall Boise State’s way, but the BCS did what it does best — ignite controversy.
The Broncos (11-1) finished ranked No. 7 in the BCS standings, but were passed over for one of the bowls as an at-large team. The Sugar Bowl selected Virginia Tech (11th) and Michigan (13th) to fill its two at-large slots. Virginia Tech lost by 28 on Saturday in the ACC championship, but the Hokies and Wolverines have large fan bases which equal full hotel rooms and strong ticket sales in New Orleans.
“Is this what it’s come down to for BCS at-large teams?” ESPN’s Kirk Herbstreit said Sunday on the selection show. “I mean, Kellen Moore, one of the more prolific quarterbacks in the history of college football … and we can’t get Boise State into a BCS at-large?”
Instead, Boise State will head to Las Vegas for the second straight year, and will face 6-6 Arizona State on Dec. 22 at 6 p.m. on ESPN. Herbstreit, along with Chris Fowler, will call the game.
The Sun Devils fired coach Dennis Erickson on Nov. 28, but the former Idaho coach will remain with the team for the bowl game.
Arizona State features 6-foot-8 quarterback Brock Osweiler, a Montana native who is ninth in the nation in passing yards per game (303.4), and Vontaze Burfict, a 6-3, 250-pound linebacker with first-round talent who has been known for his negative personal conduct as much as his play.
Tempe, Ariz., is about 300 miles from Las Vegas, and the Broncos traveled well last year, along with a regular season win at UNLV on Nov. 5 this year. The Broncos have won their last two bowl games, while the Sun Devils are in their first bowl game since 2007.
“Boise State fans have shown they love Las Vegas as not only did they help us mark our sixth consecutive sellout a year ago, but they also came down in droves for the Broncos’ game versus UNLV earlier this season,” bowl executive director Tina Kunzer-Murphy said in a statement. “It’s also exciting to be the site of the final collegiate game for the sport’s winningest quarterback, Kellen Moore.”
On Saturday, after defeating New Mexico 45-0, coach Chris Petersen said his team was worthy of a BCS game and when new athletic director Mark Coyle was hired Monday, he said “it makes no sense” that the Broncos did not have a fair shot despite their record and ranking.
“This team’s as good as any of the teams we’ve had,” Petersen said.
The Broncos’ coach did not comment publicly Sunday, though he will hold a news conference today.
Though it seemed like quite a letdown for the Broncos and their fans on Sunday, the Sun Devils were plenty happy for the chance to play the Broncos.
“To be able to go to a bowl game in a city like Las Vegas and play an opponent like Boise State, wow,” senior defensive tackle Bo Moos told the Arizona Republic.