New Year’s Day. January 1, 2007.
A day that will live in infamy.
The day I was fleeced a C-note.
The last day I gambled on college football.
But more importantly, it was the day College Football was brought to its knees. This very day every G5/Mid-Major program had a voice to cry out in collective celebration.
Boise State 43, Oklahoma 42.
Most remember the perfectly executed “Statue of Liberty” two-point conversion by QB Jared Zabranksky and RB Ian Johnson that sealed the win in OT.
And, of course, who could forget Johnson’s subsequent marriage proposal to a BSU cheerleader? However, the most pivotal moments occurred on the Broncos final drive before overtime.
Before metaphorically flushing my hard-earned jack down the crapper, my brother and I were in the midst of a 24 hour bender.
Annually, several of our mutual friends and some family gathered at his house to celebrate the New Year with an exclamation point.
Copious amounts of alcohol, tobacco, and finger foods were consumed that fateful evening and much into the next day.
Now, my brother Spanky dabbled for awhile in the bookie industry. And guess what? I dabbled a little in gambling on football.
Those two elements along with my inebriated state was not an ideal moment to lay that hundo on the Sooners in hindsight.
But, c’mon man!! Only a seven point spread for this game? For those who don’t understand the meaning of point spreads, I’ll give you the crash course.
- Oklahoma was the favorite to win by 7
- In the betting world, BSU starts the game with 7 points
- Therefore, if you bet Oklahoma, they must win by 8
- If you bet BSU, they can only lose by 7 or less
- If OU wins by 7, it’s called a push, neither bet wins or loses
Unfortunately for me, I settled on #3.
But it was an easy hundred! No matter how good the Broncos were, no way could they compete with the likes of Oklahoma. Steeped in tradition, talent, and with Adrian Peterson in the backfield. A freight train was about to roll right through these helpless overachievers, or so many thought.
Nevertheless, as we continued to fill ourselves with a few more adult pops and celebrated as if this was our last day on Earth, staggering developments were materializing in the Arizona desert.
It was well into the 3rd quarter and the Broncos were dismantling the Sooners leading 28-10. ‘WHAT THE HELL WAS THIS?” I thought to myself in vain.
OU stormed back, though, to knot things up at 28 a piece with only 1:26 left in the final quarter.
On the ensuing BSU possession, Sooners’ CB Marcus Walker promptly picked Zabransky on his first pass attempt and housed it to give his squad a shocking 35-28 lead with under a minute on the clock. My thoughts now? “I could walk away with a push!”
Yeah, not so much.
The next few plays contained the stuff of myths and legends. Maybe the microcosm of a storybook or movie.
If Boise State is the hero, and OU the villain in this play, then the final drive in regulation would have been a perfect fairy tale script.
We begin with our hero, the Boise State Broncos, from their own 22 yard line, 0:53 on the ticker, and 2 timeouts.
The first play is their initial protagonist stand. This came in the form of Zabranksy connecting on a deep cross to TE Derek Schouman for 36 yards against a very soft Sooner zone defense. Lots of space out there for the wideouts if the correct routes are executed properly.
With the clock stopped allowing the chain gang to reset the first down markers, our heroes swooped into action as they hustled to the line of scrimmage.
The dastardly, villainous Sooners were about to hatch an evil counterattack.
On first down from the OU 42, the ball was snapped. Left defensive end Larry Birdie swung around on a stunt move.
This brought his route to the QB behind the defensive tackle to his left, then straight up the middle right into Zabranky’s grill.
Sack. Eight yards lost.
After two straight incompletions, the moment looked very bleak despite their gallant effort. Our heroes were down and almost out.
The scoundrel Sooners were about to lay the definitive knock out punch……..
4th and 18……
That’s when it happened. Just when everyone thought these courageous Broncos had no chance to defeat this foe, Coach Chris Peterson (our heroes’ charismatic mentor – think Splinter from TMNT) called something that will live on infinitely in college football lore: an old fashioned Hook & Ladder.
It’s a bold call even when you consider the situation. For the hook & ladder to be effective, the timing has to be precise.
A lot to ask on such a grand stage, with the entire weight of every smaller school out here resting squarely on our heroes shoulders.
But Coach Peterson knew his students were ready for this moment. This isn’t some play he drew up in the sand.
Every football coach will have their team routinely practice these types of plays so to be prepared for any situation. Obviously, they were well equipped to execute a crushing blow to their fiendish opponent.
The crowd buzzed. Both sidelines resembled a configuration of bobble head figures, as most players bounced in nervous anticipation. Horns sounded off, whistles and screams faded into almost a white noise. The ball was snapped.
Zabransky dropped back and quickly fired a strike over the middle to WR Drisan James. The 1st crucial part of this play is making sure that the wide receiver breaks off his route a few yards short of a first down.
This is because the linebackers of Oklahoma were running straight to the line to gain to protect against BSU getting there.
As the defensive backs and linebackers all collapsed toward James and the ball, Broncos WR Jerard Rabb swung around behind him.
In almost one motion James caught the ball and pitched it skillfully back to Rabb. With the initial misdirection an unmitigated success, Rabb was gifted a direct path to the left pylon of the end zone.
He sped down the sideline as Sooner defenders trailed close behind. But this was to no avail, as Rabb dove across the goal line. 50 yard TD. Tied again.
Overtime followed and the rest is history as our heroes defeated their foes in nearly equally dramatic fashion with that Ian Johnson two point conversion.
As I tried to absorb the shocking nature of that contest, I knew right then that shock waves were reverberating throughout the NCAA world.
Because of my deep-rooted passion for sports, I had completely forgotten about the cash I lost. It was insignificant at the moment.
Changed forever is the college football terrain as a result of the 2007 Fiesta Bowl and I was able to enjoy every second of it.