What if Colorado State was able to pull off the impossible last night and knock off No. 15 Boise State at home?
Impossible, not only because of the Broncos’ current Top-25 ranking, but because CSU has never knocked off BSU, and the team who’s played on the blue turf for 30 years, rarely loses at home.
Still, the Rams started off well and led for most of the first half, 3-0. It was notably the first time Boise State had trailed all season long. Five games, never trailing? That certainly sounds like a dominant team.
Then, the Broncos did what good teams do, they scored a touchdown to take the lead into halftime.
In the third quarter, Boise State put two touchdowns on the board in the third quarter — including Jeremy McNichols’ 80-yard score — and with 10:53 to play, they scored again. And while Boise was putting together scoring drives, CSU could only gain one first down and a mere 22 yards on three drives. What if the Rams could have manufactured some sort of offense in the third quarter?
Down 28-3, early in the fourth, the Rams were done. There was no way they’d come back, on the road, and beat Boise State. Many along the front range likely turned their TVs off, given it was nearing 11 p.m. MT at this point.
Well, CSU nearly did come back in one of the wildest, wackiest finishes you’ll ever see in college football. Or any football, for that matter.
On a long and methodical drive, the Rams finally scored their first touchdown of the night as Izzy Matthews plunged over the goal line — what if there was more urgency on that drive?
After the score, Rams head coach Mike Bobo elected to boot the ball short on an onside kick, with Wyatt Bryan approaching the ball and All-American punter Hayden Hunt then taking his turn and kicking it the opposite direction. CSU recovered, and on the very next play, Nick Stevens connected with Michael Gallup for an electrifying 53-yard touchdown scamper. After the extra point, Colorado State suddenly only trailed 28-17, with 4:48 to play.
Again, Bobo dialed up the onside kick and again, somehow, his Rams were able to secure the football. Those kicks were well-done by Hunt, who told the media after the loss, “That just doesn’t happen, to be honest.”
He’s right. When was the last time you remember CSU recovering an onside kick? And two in three plays? It was nearly unbelievable, and yet, the Rams were still fighting.
From their own 46-yard line, Stevens led his Rams to the end zone, finding Dalyn Dawkins for an 11-yard catch and run. Then, down five points, Bobo intelligently went for the two-point conversion. Really, it’s the only choice in the moment down by that margin, but, the offense failed. Stevens hit Olabisi Johnson in the hands, but the receiver dropped the pigskin. What if he would have caught that one?
Now, down five points with 3:35 to play, Bobo gambled and went for a third onside kick. This one, though, was successfully recovered by Boise State at CSU’s 48. With two timeouts and that much time, what if Bobo kicks the ball deep?
After the game, Bobo said he would have booted it deep if Bisi would’ve caught the two-point conversion. Instead, the Rams looked dead in the water.
Nope. The defense made a stand and Boise turned the ball over on downs, but with only 15 seconds on the clock. From their own 27-yard line, the Rams ran a hook and lateral and lateral and lateral, and so on. What if they just go out of bounds after the first lateral?
Instead, the ball was fumbled out of bounds by Stevens, who was up in the mix, and the clock — which started when it was spotted — ran out. Wait, the Mountain West officials said they’d review the play and it was determined to be a forward lateral, resulting in a 10-second run-off and the end of the game.
Talk about anti-climactic.
In a clarification from the MW, they deemed the officials called everything correctly. They said the lateral from Robert Ruiz to Dalyn Dawkins was forward, and after watching the replay from the end zone camera — not the best angle — it looked very close to a lateral and not forward. They also said Stevens’ was a lateral, but it wasn’t, because he never secured possession of the ball. It should’ve been a fumble.
In any case, the game came to a close without Colorado State being allowed to take a shot at the end zone, even if they were just going to run another hook and lateral-type play, which likely wouldn’t have worked. You just never know, especially when so many wacky things had happened just to get to that point.
What if the Rams would’ve been able to run that final play? We’ll never know.
The biggest “what if,” though, revolves around Bobo’s decision to run the third straight onside kick. Boot it deep, stop Boise and maybe the Rams are in close enough position to let Stevens toss up a “Hail Mary.”
Instead, Ram Nation has to wonder “what if” they had actually beaten Boise State on the road? What if they improved to 4-3 instead of sitting below .500 at 3-4?
Now, they have to once again rally, this time on the season, and turn that huge “what if” loss into a learning experience moving forward down the stretch of the year.