The Idaho Statesman, Joe Jaszewski, Associated Press
TCU's Waymon James (32) heads upfield against Boise State during an NCAA college football game in Boise, Idaho, Saturday, Nov. 12 2011.
BOISE, Idaho — One thing was certain for Gary Patterson at the start of TCU's final scoring drive: Avoid overtime.
So Patterson didn't hesitate when he elected to go for two points after Casey Pachall's 25-yard touchdown pass to Brandon Carter pulled the Horned Frogs within a point with 1:05 remaining.
Patterson put the game in Pachall's hands one more time. The sophomore responded, tossing a short pass to Josh Boyce, who muscled his way into the end zone to give TCU a 36-35 lead. Moments later, TCU walked away with the upset after Boise State kicker Dan Goodale missed right on a 39-yard field goal as time expired.
"I told them when we started that drive 'understand we won't win overtime here.' When we go and score we are going for two," said Patterson, whose team held on for a victory over the fifth-ranked Broncos. "We were not going to win this if it kept going, so the only way we are going to be able to do it is steal it."
The victory puts TCU (8-2, 5-0) in first place in the conference and in prime position to win league title in their final year in the Mountain West Conference. The Horned Frogs close out with home games, and with the way they played Saturday, a letdown seems unlikely in home games against weaker foes like Colorado State and UNLV.
The win may also serve as the signature game of Pachall's young career.
The sophomore threw for a career-best 473 yards and tossed long scores of 75, 74 and 69 yards in the first half. But his most important throws came in the final minutes when he rallied the Horned Frogs to a stunning victory that spoiled any Boise State hopes of playing for a national title and snapped their 35-game home winning streak.
The Broncos were in control in the final minutes and driving into field-goal range when backup running back Drew Wright fumbled at the TCU 27-yard line with 2:26 remaining.
Pachall took over, calmly marching TCU down the field before connecting with Brandon Carter, who leaped over a defender to make the grab in the end zone and pull TCU within 36-35 with 1:05 remaining and setting up Patterson's gutsy call.
"We knew we had what it took to take it down and score, there wasn't any doubt about that," said Pachall. "We just had to execute and take care of it."
Boise State (8-1, 3-1) and Kellen Moore made a final run.
With the help of a pass interference penalty on fourth down, Moore drove the Broncos down the field in the final minute and put the Broncos in position to win with a field goal. But Goodale's kick was way wide.
For the second year in a row, Boise State's run at a perfect season has been done in by a missed field goal. Last year, Broncos' kicker Kyle Brotzman missed twice from short range — once at the end of regulation and again in overtime — in a 34-31 loss at Nevada.
After Goodale's kick sailed right, TCU players stormed the field to celebrate. TCU has now won a league record 22 straight games against conference foes and set an MWC record with 12 straight conference road wins.
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The game — the first and last conference matchup between these two perennial BCS busters— was a back-and-forth battle from the start, with Boise State jumping out in front early and TCU storming back to take a 20-14 lead at the half.
Moore was 28-of-38 passing for 320 yards and two touchdowns. He led a Boise State offense that rolled up 446 total yards, including 125 rushing yards from D.J. Harper, while the Horned Frogs amassed 506 total yards.
"I promise you this, there won't be any better game in college football this year than the one you saw between LSU and Alabama the other night and the Boise State and TCU game," Patterson said. "It was a great ball game and it's too bad anybody had to lose."