Michigan State 17, Boise State 13: Broncos finally fall to a big boy

Boise State doesn’t rebuild. The Broncos just reload.

So maybe that’s a stretch. Still, the departures of 17 starters from the Boise State juggernaut this season were supposed to bring college football’s consummate cinderella back to earth. Boise lost to Michigan State Friday night, but it sure didn’t look like the Broncos have any intention of falling back to the pack.

The Broncos held a three-point lead late in the fourth quarter in East Lansing, and it certainly felt like the Boise upsets of old. They were doing things the way that they had in the past, playing physical football and capitalizing on the Spartans’ mistakes – Boise’s lone touchdown came on an interception return.

But it wasn’t quite the same. Unlike the days of old, Boise lacked the offensive cohesion to move the ball with any consistency. MSU’s feisty defense kept the Broncos’ running game under wraps, as Boise rolled up just 37 yards on the ground. Junior quarterback Joe Southwick had an uneven night, completing fewer than 50 percent of his passes. When Boise did reach the red zone, the offense failed to punch it in, settling for field goals instead.

Sparty certainly did its best to keep the Broncos in the game. The MSU coaching staff apparently took leave of its senses somewhere in the second quarter, temporarily abandoning its rushing attack and putting the game in the hands of first-time starting quarterback Andrew Maxwell. Maxwell, for his part, tried to put the game in Boise’s hands, as he repeatedly forced throws en route to tossing 3 INTs.

With the Boise O sputtering, though, junior Le’Veon Bell’s punishing running on 44 carries for 210 yards along some timely completions from Maxwell to beastly tight end Dion Sims helped the home team salt the game away in the fourth quarter.

So, where power programs like Georgia and Virginia Tech and Oregon failed, Michigan State finally reminded Boise how it feels to lose a big season opener. If Friday night’s effort is any indication, it’s a feeling the Broncos won’t be growing accustomed to.