KINGMAN, AZ — At the Dairy Queen, just off the interstate and right in front of Kingman Junior High School, Mark and Lisa are chowing down on footlong hotdogs loaded up with chili and cheese, washing them down with chocolate milk shakes. They’re still dressed in the same orange and blue outfits they were wearing last night in Glendale when Boise State shocked the world.
Outside it’s pretty chilly and the wind is gusting up to 40 miles per hour on this sunny day in the desert, but inside Mark and Lisa are having the time of their young lives. They warm the whole room with the glow on their faces. Oh to be young, in love, and a Boise State Bronco on January 2, 2007.
“Only the greatest day ever, that’s all,” says Mark, who admits he had “at least a couple” of adult beverages in the wee hours of the morning as he celebrated Boise State’s 43-42 overtime win over Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. “Maybe the greatest bowl game ever, too. Nobody gave Boise State a chance, did they?”
Perhaps the only people that believed undefeated Boise State was going to pull off the ultimate upset Monday night were a few diehard Boise fans that would believe Boise would be favored by two touchdowns over the New England Patriots and the Boise State players and coaches.
Lisa says she was here for the good time, that’s all. She’s used to games on the Smurf Turf with crowds of 30,000 or so. This was a big time bowl game on the national stage and she wasn’t going to miss it even if she had that sinking feeling in the pit of her stomach that her beloved Broncos were going to get stomped.
Well, they didn’t get stomped and even though Boise got off to a big start and kept pouring it on, Lisa said she couldn’t force herself to believe. When the Broncos scored 14 points early, she didn’t believe, nor did she believe when it was 28-10 in the fourth quarter. When Oklahoma came back in the final couple of minutes to take the lead, it was exactly what she expected.
“Stuff happens when you’re Boise State,” she said. “You hate to be skeptical, but that was Oklahoma we were playing. You know Oklahoma’s going to come back. That’s why they’re Oklahoma. We’re … well, Boise State.”
And Oklahoma did just what she thought Oklahoma would do, but Boise refused to give in. Mark was thrilled that the Broncos still had some fight in them after Oklahoma flipped the switches and started pouring it on in the final minutes.
“You know, we came back and tied them and got it into overtime,” said Mark. “For me, no matter what happened after that I was happy. I mean, we go overtime with Bobby Stoops and the Oklahoma Sooners? Are you kidding me?
“Winning the game? Never thought we’d do it. Not even once. They score and kick it, we score and we’re going for two? I’m thinking we’re nuts, then we score and I’m the one who’s nuts. I kissed Lisa, I kissed everybody. Some girls … probably some guys, too. Didn’t care, either. I hugged and kissed everybody. Cried like a baby, too. For Boise State, this is as big as it gets.”
The Broncos finished the season 13-0. If the Florida Gators beat Ohio State next Monday night in the same stadium in Glendale where Boise State dreamed its impossible dream, the Broncos will be the only unbeaten team in the country. Would that make them the national champions in the minds of their fans?
“It would be nice, but really, who cares?” asks Mark. “We won when nobody thought we could win. We got a chance to play with the big boys and we proved we belong. That’s what was most important. We belong. Boise State belongs.”
They wished Florida good luck next week, politely thanked the folks behind the counter for good food and good service and then headed for the door to get back on the road. They were heading to Las Vegas to join hundreds of other Boise State fans to continue the celebration Tuesday night.
“We already had it planned,” said Mark. “We were going to celebrate just being in the Fiesta Bowl. Nobody even thought we’d win but we were going to throw a party for sure. Now we really got us something to celebrate, don’t we? Now we get to do it in Vegas. Doesn’t that just beat everything?”
* * *
Earlier in the morning, Boise State had taken over Hoover Dam. The visitor parking lots were filled with cars bearing Idaho tags and orange and blue Boise State flags. Both sides of the dam were packed with Boise State fans doing the tourist thing. In between mugging for the endless photos, they hugged and high-fived every Boise State fan that walked by.
A group of Boise State students piled out of a rented Chrysler mini-van as my car pulled up. When I got out of my car, they noticed my blue jacket with the Gator head on the left breast and the big orange letters that spell Florida on the back.
“We got the field warmed up for you guys,” says the young guy in blue jeans and a T-shirt that barely covers a torso still covered with orange and blue body paint. It’s 45 degrees and the wind is whipping but he’s feeling no pain. The euphoria from Monday night still hasn’t worn off so nothing short of amputation will faze him.
I ask him if he’s going to shower any time soon and he tells me he’ll shower in a week or when the body paint wears off, whichever comes first.
“Smear some of that on me,” says a petite and very pretty blonde from the same vehicle.
He walks over and plants one on her. It’s pretty obvious they’ve done this before. The exchange of tongues lasts quite awhile and when they finish, they remain wrapped up in each other.
“To the victor goes the spoils!” he shouts and everybody in his group laughs
“Tonight, Baby … just wait till tonight in Las Vegas,” she says and everybody laughs even harder.
He looks at me and just grins.
“It’s an omen,” says the guy. “The big underdog in orange and blue won last night and our party won’t stop for a week. Now it’s your turn. We set it up for you. Now it’s your turn to finish. Florida over Ohio State! Orange and blue, Baby, that’s what it’s all about! “
It’s hard to argue with his logic.