December 23, 2011

Boise State, Moore end an era with a bang

Moore led Boise State in a romp over Arizona State (Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
Kellen Moore and the Boise State Broncos capped an amazing four-year run with a dominating blowout of Arizona State on Thursday night, winning the Las Vegas Bowl with a 56-24 tally. As the quarterback with the most wins of all time took his final college snap with a victory kneel, I found myself saddened yet in awe.

I was saddened because this ridiculous bowl system with conference tie-ins meant that because Boise State lost one game by one point to a ranked team, Moore and the Broncos were paired with a 6-6 Arizona State instead of someone like Arkansas, Kansas State, or South Carolina.

I was saddened more by the lead into SportsCenter immediately after the game, which showed Kellen Moore firing a touchdown pass while Linda Cohn said, "Kellen Moore goes out on top, but is he an NFL quarterback?" My enraged little college football heart powered my fingers through this tweet:

Ethan Miller/Getty Images
For many people nationally, Kellen Moore's college career ended when TCU got Boise by one point on that November afternoon. Heisman winner? Maybe not, but why wasn't this kid at least in New York with Luck and Griffin? Especially this year, the year prognosticators said Boise would fall off with the loss of receivers Austin Pettis and Titus Young, legitimate NFL talent. Why was that? Limited television distribution? Perhaps. AQ-conference homers who hold their conferences up above the others (exactly like NFLers put down your entire sport)? Could be. I really can't say. But what I can say is how awesome Moore's career was. So excuse me for a moment while I bask and enjoy the hell out of re-living it.

Let's go back in 2008, when we were all a little unsure how Boise State would manage to stay relevant with a freshman quarterback running the show. Moore's first road game as a college quarterback was at Oregon in Autzen Stadium. The Ducks were beginning their rise to power. Dennis Dixon had led Oregon's new, awesome, from-the-brain-of-Chip-Kelly offense to new heights in 2007, and the Ducks were ranked 17th that week when Boise came to town. This was an Oregon team that would finish 2008 with a 10-3 record.

24-36 ... 386 yards ... 3 TD ... 1 INT

Yes, that was Moore's line that day, seemingly the exact game he would play 53 times at Boise State. No, Moore didn't pile up wins on the strength of other players making plays around him, all while the little southpaw sat back and "managed the game." Moore won those games just like he won that game on September 20, 2008.

Copy-Paste for opposing coaches, players,
and fans versus Moore. (Ethan Miller/Getty)
Boise State would go 12-1 that season, Moore's first career loss coming 17-16 at the hands of #11 TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.

In 2009, Boise would beat Oregon again (who finished 10-3 again), roll through WAC play, then get revenge on fourth-ranked TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. 13-0. Of Moore's 431 passing attempts in 2009, only three were interecepted.

Then 2010 opened with Virginia Tech in Washington, D.C. Even I was doubting at this point. I picked against Boise in that game. How could they keep winning? But it was another 12-1 mark, marred by the infamous Brotzman botches in Reno.

2011 was great, too. Moore led the Broncos to a 35-21 dispatching of Georgia right in the Bulldogs' backyard, a Georgia team that would eventually play for the SEC title. Another 12-1 season, another loss on a miscue from a kicker who could have won the game. You can't pin the 36-35 loss to TCU on Moore. He was 28-38 for 320 yards, 2 TD, and 0 INT on the afternoon.

Moore ended his career last night going 26-34 for 293 yards, 2 TD, and an uncharacteristic 2 INTs on the night.

Moore's career summed up by numbers is staggering:

  • 50 wins (50-3 record) - 1st all-time by an FBS quarterback, surpassing Colt McCoy at 45. Unless CFB goes to an expanded playoff where a team can play 15 games a year, I don't think this record will get touched. Those three losses came by a combined five points.
  • 14,667 passing yards - 5th all-time in FBS history (behind Keenum, Chang, Harrell, and Detmer).
  • 142 TD passes - 2nd all-time behind Case Keenum
  • 28 interceptions - 1st all-time in interception rate over a career. Moore threw just 28 picks in 1,658 pass attempts, or in other words, threw an interception once in every 59 pass attempts.
  • 70% career completion rate - Moore was simply an assassin, the most efficient quarterback you could ask for.
"But wait!" I can hear BCS football fans scream. "He was in the WAC and Mountain West for crying out loud!" You can't really fault Moore for being where he was. Perhaps we could have seen him dice up BCS defenses more often if a "big boy" football program had recruited him.

Sure there are questions to be answered. Can Kellen cut it in the NFL? Can Boise State keep rolling without him? But right now, I care little about all that. I'm simply enjoying the fact that I got to (and chose to) watch Horseface Killah for four years. If you didn't see much of Moore or chose to watch other "bigger" games throughout his career, you missed out. Moore belongs squarely in the Pantheon of college football quarterbacks.


Anonymous said...

Well said!!! Well written article. Bronco Nation will definitely miss Kellen Moore and all the rest of the seniors. But as we have seen from the past (Dinwiddie to Zebransky to Kellen), a new QB will emerge and to those questions you posted: YES, Boise State will rise again in a new Conference. More importantly, Kellen will get into the NFL...

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