There are times in sports when you see something you don’t believe. That was the case on several occasions in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, making it one of the most memorable and improbable games in college football history. Boise State, showing plenty of heart and resilience, used a series of trick plays to upset Big 12 Conference champion Oklahoma, 43-42, in overtime in the first college football game ever played at University of Phoenix Stadium.
In one of the most dramatic finishes ever, the Broncos and Sooners combined for 22 points in the final 86 seconds of regulation to send the game to overtime. Oklahoma took just one play in OT to take the lead, scoring on a 25-yard run by Adrian Peterson. The Broncos needed six plays, scoring on a halfback pass on fourth-down from Vinny Perretta to Derek Schouman.
First-year coach Chris Petersen decided to go for the victory. With three wide receivers lined up to the right, quarterback Jared Zabransky pumped that direction then handed the ball behind his back to tailback Ian Johnson, who raced untouched into the end zone. It was your typical playground Statue of Liberty play.
Moments after his game-winning touchdown run, Johnson asked his girlfriend, Broncos cheerleader Chrissy Popadics, to marry him on national television, adding to the craziness and excitement of the biggest win in Boise State history.
Boise State, which earned a BCS bid by going 12-0 during the regular season, jumped out to a 14-0 lead and held a 28-10 lead midway through the third quarter. The Sooners came back to tie the game with 1:26 to play on a 5-yard pass from Paul Thompson to Quentin Chaney. After penalties on their first two 2-point conversions, the Sooners finally converted when Thompson hit Juaquin Iglesias.
The Broncos appeared to be finished on the very next play when Oklahoma’s Marcus Walk intercepted a pass and returned it 33 yards for a touchdown to put the Sooners ahead 35-28 with 1:02 remaining.
That’s when Boise State pulled out its bag of tricks. On a fourth-and-18 from midfield in the final seconds of regulation, Zabransky hit Drisan James at Oklahoma’s 35, and James pitched the ball to Jerard Rabb, who raced into the end zone with seven seconds to play and sent the game to overtime. It was a classic hook-and-ladder play.
Boise State finished the season as the only undefeated team in the nation and No. 5 in the final Associated Press poll, its highest ranking ever in school history. Zabransky was named the offensive player of the game, while Marty Tadman intercepted two passes and returned one for a touchdown to earn defensive player of the game honors.