The Las Vegas Bowl looked as if it might be a Boise State rout, with the Broncos galloping to a 24-0 lead over the Oregon Ducks. That lead was ready to be 31-0, but two defensive plays by Oregon led to two scores and made the game a competitive endeavor going into halftime.
With 54 seconds remaining in the second quarter, the Broncos was driving toward its fourth touchdown and attempted some trickery to get into the end zone. Longtime Boise State fans might remember the Statue of Liberty play affectionately, watching the team execute it perfectly in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl versus Oklahoma. The Broncos even pulled it off again in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl against Arizona.
But in 2017, the Boise State offense couldn’t find that same magic in Las Vegas. Quarterback Brett Rypien’s behind-the-back handoff bounced off tailback Alexander Mattison’s facemask, resulting in a fumble that Oregon’s Troy Dye picked up and ran the other way for an 86-yard touchdown.
The defensive touchdown cut Boise State’s lead to 24-7, which was still a comfortable lead to take into halftime. Yet the Broncos challenged again for another score after a 67-yard pass from Rypien to Cedrick Wilson. From there, making the score 31-7 seemed like a near-formality.
But on the next play, Rypien tried to hit Wilson for a fade route in the end zone. But he underthrew the ball, allowing Oregon’s Tyree Robinson to jump in front of Wilson for an interception. And once Robinson caught the ball, he just kept going on his way to a 100-yard touchdown.
Instead of a 31-0 lead — or maybe even a 38-0 lead — and a potential rout in the first half, those two defensive scores put Oregon right back in the ballgame. At the half, the Broncos held a 24-14 lead over the Ducks.
Boise State absolutely dominated in the first half, however, gaining 295 yards to Oregon’s 77. The Ducks also had four turnovers, though they didn’t lead directly to scores like the Broncos’ did. But Boise State is picking up right where it left off early in the third quarter, capping off a 75-yard drive with a 13-yard pass from Rypien to Alec Dhaenens for a 31-14 lead.