Boise State’s quest for perfection and BCS glory were dashed again by a missed field goal.
The fifth-ranked Broncos had a chance to win a last-second thriller against Texas Christian yesterday, but freshman kicker Dan Goodale’s 39-yard kick sailed wide right as time expired to give Horned Frogs a 36-35 victory.
TCU now has a clear path to the Mountain West Conference crown.
For the Broncos, losing this way may seem all too familiar. Last year, Boise State’s unbeaten season and BCS hopes were spoiled when senior kicker Kyle Brotzman missed from short range in regulation and overtime, enabling Nevada to walk away with a 34-31 win.
Kellen Moore, who drove the Broncos into scoring range in the final 55 seconds, deflected any postgame parallels to last season’s misery in Nevada.
“We missed opportunities. I don’t think it’s just one play, it’s a variety of plays,’’ said Moore, who threw for 320 yards and two touchdowns but lost for the first time at home in his career. “It’s a loss so it feels similar, but there’s not great feelings.’’
Leading, 35-28, Boise State (8-1, 3-1) got the ball at its 32 with 5:37 remaining. Moore then engineered a methodical drive and got the Broncos in scoring position when a fumble by backup running back Drew Wright was recovered by TCU (8-2, 5-0) with 2:26 remaining.
Then Casey Pachall took over - and that was bad news for Boise State.
The sophomore was 24 of 37 for a career-best 473 yards and five touchdown passes, including scores of 75, 74, and 69 yards in the first half.
Pachall calmly marched the Horned Frogs before firing a 25-yard TD pass to Brandon Carter, who leaped over a defender to make the grab in the end zone and pull TCU within 35-34 with 1:05 remaining.
TCU coach Gary Patterson made a gutsy call, opting to put the game in Pachall’s hands and go for the lead instead of the tie. Pachall tossed a short pass to Josh Boyce, who fought his way into the end zone, putting TCU up, 36-35, and quieting a raucous Bronco Stadium crowd.
Patterson said the decision to go for 2 points was easy considering the circumstances.
“We’re not going to win this if this keeps going,’’ Patterson said. “So, the only way we’re going to be able to do it is to steal it. We were able to get the play and get the points and we were fortunate that they missed a field goal. It’s just as simple as that.’’
The Horned Frogs rolled up 506 total yards on an depleted Boise State secondary.
“It really brings a relief because we’ve been fighting hard all year, especially in the fourth quarter,’’ Pachall said. “Now that we actually pulled one off, it’s a lot of relief. It gives us a lot of motivation and confidence.’’
The win gives the Horned Frogs the inside track on the league championship in their final year in the Mountain West. The victory was also TCU’s 22d straight against conference foes, and TCU set a MWC record with 12 straight conference road wins.
For the Broncos, the loss snapped their 35-game home winning streak, which had been the nation’s longest. It also forces Boise State to lower its sights when it comes to the postseason.
“We’ll see what these guys are made of,’’ Boise State coach Chris Petersen said. “This is real-life football. You don’t win all your games all the time - as much as we’ve done that around here.’’
LSU 42, Western Kentucky 9 - Alfred Blue and Kenny Hilliard each scored two touchdowns, and the top-ranked Tigers (10-0) waxed the Hilltoppers (5-5) in Baton Rouge, La.
Oklahoma St. 66, Texas Tech 6 - Brandon Weeden threw for 423 yards and five touchdowns and Joseph Randle ran for three more scores to lead the No. 2 Cowboys (10-0, 8-0 Big 12) over the Red Raiders (5-5, 2-5). It marks Texas Tech’s most lopsided loss ever and the most points allowed in program history. QB Seth Doege completed 25 of 43 passes for a season-low 169 yards and an interception.
Alabama 24, Mississippi St. 7 - Trent Richardson rushed for 127 yards and a touchdown, Alabama’s defense gave up just 131 total yards, and the fourth-ranked Crimson Tide (9-1, 6-1 SEC) swamped the host Bulldogs (5-5, 1-5). Alabama’s defense has held 11 straight opponents to 14 points or less.
Arkansas 49, Tennessee 7 - Dennis Johnson accounted for 140 total yards and a pair of touchdowns to help the eighth-ranked Razorbacks (9-1, 5-1 SEC) beat the Vols (4-6, 0-5) for their sixth consecutive victory.
Michigan St. 37, Iowa 21 - Kirk Cousins threw for 260 yards and three touchdowns as the 13th-ranked Spartans (8-2, 5-1) took control of the Big Ten’s Legends Division and handed the Hawkeyes (6-4, 3-3) their first home loss.
Georgia 45, Auburn 7 - Aaron Murray threw four touchdown passes in the first half to surpass Matthew Stafford’s school record and the No. 14 Bulldogs romped past the 24th-ranked Tigers (6-4, 4-3 SEC).
Murray has 27 scoring strikes, breaking Stafford’s record of 25.
Georgia (8-2, 6-1) can clinch the East division next weekend with a win over Kentucky.
South Carolina 17, Florida 12 - Quarterback Connor Shaw ran for 88 yards and two touchdowns, and freshman Brandon Wilds ran for 120 yards to lead the No. 15 Gamecocks (8-2, 6-2 SEC) over the Gators (5-5, 3-5) in Columbia, S.C.
The Gamecocks have their most league victories since joining the SEC in 1992.
Wisconsin 42, Minnesota 13 - Montee Ball broke the Big Ten’s season touchdown record (27), Russell Wilson had a season-high four touchdown passes, and the 16th-ranked Badgers (8-2, 4-2) trampled the Gophers (2-8, 1-5) in Minneapolis.
Kansas St. 53, Texas A&M 50 - Collin Klein threw for a career-high 281 yards and scored on a sneak in the fourth overtime, his sixth touchdown of the game, giving the 17th-ranked Wildcats a seemingly never-ending victory over the Aggies (5-5, 3-4 Big 12).
Klein added 103 yards on the ground for the Wildcats (8-2, 5-2), who rallied from a 10-point deficit in the final six minutes of regulation to drop the Aggies.
Before the game, Kansas State said it would be without leading receiver/returner Tyler Lockett (undisclosed injury) for the season.
Southern Cal 40, Washington 17 - Marqise Lee caught a touchdown pass and returned the second-half kickoff 88 yards for a score, and Curtis McNeal had a 79-yard TD sprint among his career-high 148 yards rushing in a romp for the No. 18 Trojans (8-2, 5-2 Pac-12) over the Huskies (6-4, 4-3) in Los Angeles.
Missouri 17, Texas 5 - Kendial Lawrence ran for 107 yards and a touchdown in relief of injured Henry Josey and the Tigers (5-5, 3-4 Big 12) handled the No. 21 Longhorns (6-6, 3-3).
Michigan 31, Illinois 14 - Fitzgerald Toussaint ran for 192 yards and a TD and backup QB Devin Gardner threw a key scoring pass to lead the No. 22 Wolverines (8-2, 4-2 Big Ten) past the host Illini (6-2, 2-4).
Michigan’s Denard Robinson bruised his wrist after a third-quarter hit and did not return, though coach Brady Hoke said he could have.
West Virginia 24, Cincinnati 21 - Geno Smith threw for 372 yards and led a fourth-quarter touchdown drive that rallied the Mountaineers (7-3, 3-2) past the No. 23 Bearcats (7-2, 3-1), who lost quarterback Zach Collaros to a lower-leg injury and control of the Big East race.
Baylor 31, Kansas 30 - Robert Griffin III threw three touchdown passes in a furious fourth-quarter comeback and the Bears (6-3, 5-3 Big 12) nipped the Jayhawks (2-8, 0-7), who failed on a 2-point conversion in overtime.
Southern Miss 30, Central Florida 29 - Danny Hrapmann kicked five field goals and the No. 25 Golden Eagles narrowly avoided an upset by the visiting Knights (4-6) to improve to 9-1 for the first time since 1996.