LAS VEGAS NV - DECEMBER 22: Head coach Chris Petersen (L) and quarterback Kellen Moore #11 of the Boise State Broncos hold up a trophy as they celebrate their 26-3 victory over the Utah Utes in the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22 2010 in Las Vegas Nevada. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)

Boise State Finishes On High Note With 26-3 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl Victory Over Utah

A turnover-filled, relatively low-octane game marks a quiet end to a season Boise State thought might end in a national title bid.

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MAACO Bowl Las Vegas: Boise State 26, Utah 3 (FINAL)

The fourth quarter of the 2010 MAACO Las Vegas Bowl, you'll be shocked to learn, passes with little action and lots of mistakes. When last we saw our heroes, Utah was blocking a Boise State field goal attempt. What did they do with this momentum? Why, make several cunning mid-range plays to move the ball deep into Boise State territory, get Terrance Cain sacked, and miss a 36-yard field goal try, of course.

The lone remaining highlight of the game comes on the next drive, where receiver Austin Pettis attempts a pass  on the fly, the ball is tipped, and Pettis himself comes down with it a little ways downfield. The box score will read: "Austin Pettis pass to Austin Pettis, 2-yard gain." Glean what delight you can from this, because all that remains to comment on is another Kyle Brotzman kicking try, this one successful, to move the final score to Boise State 26, Utah 3.

With six turnovers and relatively low-octane scoring output, this has been a largely forgetful game, but do take away one lesson: as we said in the preview: It's no longer safe to count on Boise State fielding a WAC defense. Not even in 2011.

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MAACO Bowl Las Vegas, Boise State Vs. Utah: More Fumbles, And Maybe Some Points

Heading into this game, Boise State was ranked 18th nationally in turnover margin. They're going to need some help from Utah to maintain that statistic.

They get it early. To kick off the third quarter in the style of play to which we have become accustomed this evening, Utah's Shaky Smithson fumbles on a crucial third-and-10 conversion. Boise State recovers and sets up at their own 39-yard line. Two minutes later, Kellen Moore hits Austin Pettis over the middle for a 28-yard gain; the ball is knocked free as Pettis runs for the endzone. The Broncos' Geraldo Hiwat recovers as the ball rolls over the back boundary line, but the play is ruled a touchback. It's Boise State's fourth turnover this evening.

The Utes, of course, will make nothing of it, and after a quick three-and-out it takes 65 seconds for Moore to connect with Pettis again for an 18-yard score. The Utes retake the ball, again, and fumble it away, again, but after a short drive featuring a spectacular 32-yard run by Doug Martin, Utah blocks a Kyle Brotzman field goal attempt. With 3:46 remaining in the third quarter, Boise State leads Utah, 23-3.

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Las Vegas Bowl, Boise State Vs. Utah: Broncos Widen The Gap Before Halftime, 16-3

The remaining 2:32 of the first half of the 2010 Maaco Las Vegas Bowl contain more action than the entire first quarter. Boise State's post-score kickoff is returned 19 yards, and the Utes set up at their own 25-yard line.

Matt Asiata runs right for a one-yard loss and a five-yard Utes penalty hands Kyle Whittingham's boys second down and 16 yards to convert. Terrance Cain's second-down pass falls incomplete, and on third down Jereme Brooks attempts a left-side run and gets absolutely nowhere, stopped for zero gain. The Utes punt on 4th-and-16, and Chris Potter runs it back 15 yards.

Boise State has the ball at their own 31-yard line with 44 seconds remaining in the half. Kellen Moore goes first to Titus Young, who catches a 4-yard ball, then to Tyler Shoemaker over the middle for a 25-yard gain. A second 25-yard Shoemaker catch gets the Broncos in the endzone; a tricksome two-point conversion attempt fails, and that'll do it for action in the first half of the 2010 Maaco Las Vegas Bowl. Your halftime score: Boise State 16, Utah 3.

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Las Vegas Bowl, Boise State Vs. Nevada: Actual Points Sighted In Second Quarter!

We've got a points sighting in Sam Boyd Stadium! After a nearly scoreless first quarter of the 2010 Maaco Las Vegas Bowl, Kellen Moore throws the rare interception and the Broncos lose 24 yards, with the ball ending up at their own 32-yard line.

Terrance Cain throws two incomplete passes before hitting Jereme Brooks for a five-yard gain on third down, but the Utes must settle for a 44-yard Joe Phillips field goal. That Utah scores first is a surprise, but not as much as either of these teams needing a kicker to do it.
 
Boise State, ever butterfingered this evening, commits two fumbles on their ensuing possession, and the second one sticks. Utah rapidly sinks to 3rd-and-24, punts, and on the Broncos' very next play from scrimmage, Doug "Muscle Hamster" Martin gets loose down the left sideline for an 84-yard touchdown run.

Settling in to more of what we thought this game might look like, Cain is sacked and the Broncos take over on offense. After a questionable review on a nice touchdown pass from Kellen Moore is ruled a non-score, Kyle Brotzman boots a 29-yard field goal. With 2:32 remaining in the first half, Boise State leads Utah, 10-3.

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