No. 25 Boise State rolled to a 24-0 second quarter lead and overcame a couple of touchdowns by the Oregon defense to notch a 38-28 win Saturday in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium.
In finishing the season at 11-3, the Broncos got 362 passing yards and two touchdowns from quarterback Brett Rypien, as well as 71 yards and two scores on the ground from Ryan Wolpin. Starting running back Alex Mattison (ankle) rushed only three times for 12 yards.
The Ducks (7-6) lost their first game under new head coach Mario Cristobal, who took over for Willie Taggart. Florida State hired Taggart earlier this month after his first season at Oregon.
Boise State dominated the Ducks’ offense, which was missing star running back Royce Freeman. He opted to skip the bowl game in order to prepare for his NFL career. Freeman rushed for 5,621 yards and accounted for 64 touchdowns in his Oregon career.
Without Freeman, the Ducks managed only 280 yards and 14 first downs. Quarterback Justin Herbert was hassled all day by the Broncos’ front seven, absorbing four sacks and completing 26 of 36 passes for 233 yards with two touchdowns and two interceptions.
Wolpin put Boise State ahead 7-0 with a 1-yard run at the 8:17 mark of the first quarter, capping a 13-play, 67-yard drive. Rypien made it 14-0 with 1:21 left by firing a 26-yard touchdown pass to Cedrick Wilson, who hauled in 10 passes for 221 yards.
Haden Hoggarth’s 39-yard field goal upped the margin to 17 8:59 before halftime, and made it 24-0 when Herbert’s ill-advised throw under pressure was picked by Kekaula Kaniho and returned 53 yards with 5:11 left.
Oregon’s defense struck back with two stunning touchdowns in the last 37 seconds of the half. Troy Dye returned a fumble 86 yards, followed by a 100-yard interception return from Tyree Robinson that cut the deficit to 24-14 at halftime.
The Broncos responded with a 75-yard drive to start the third quarter, scoring on Rypien’s 12-yard pass to Alec Dhaenens for a 31-14 advantage.
Herbert sandwiched his scoring strikes around Wolpin’s second 1-yard touchdown run in the fourth quarter.