Tom Smart, Deseret News
Boise's Kellen Moore looks to pass as he is rushed by Utah's Dave Kruger in Wednesday's Las Vegas Bowl in Henderson, Nev. The Broncos defeated the Utes 26-3.

LAS VEGAS — Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, the game's MVP, was asked about falling just short of a perfect season. The Broncos finished 12-1, losing only to Nevada in overtime.

"We still had a great season. We had a great team. We didn't take care of business in one opportunity and Nevada kind of deserved that victory. They took care of business," Moore said. "This is still a great team and one of the best teams in the country. The seniors have done so much for this program and have done a great job."

Boise State coach Chris Petersen acknowledged that it's "unbelievably difficult to win every game."

And how.

"There are a lot of hurdles to get over," he said.

Despite losing once, Utah coach Kyle Whittingham noted that the Broncos are "a heck of a football team."

TOLD YOU SO: As impressive as Moore and Boise State's offense is, Whittingham often mentioned the Broncos' defense in his pre-bowl discussions with the media.

"I said going in, in the weeks preceding the game, I thought (Boise State's) strong suit was their defense," Whittingham said. "I know their offense gets a lot of accolades and is very good. But I believe the strong suit of that football team is their defense."

SOLID OUTING: Utah junior linebacker Chaz Walker had a solid outing with 10 tackles, an interception and a forced fumble.

It failed to ease the disappointment, however, of the loss.

"It's a collective effort. We should have stopped them on some of their long drives," Walker said. "I wish we could have a couple of plays back but you know what, that's how the game goes."

SHAKY TAKES BLAME: Senior Shaky Smithson tried to shoulder blame for the setback. He fumbled once, but finished with a team-high 56 yards receiving and 32 rushing in his final game with the Utes.

"We played our hardest. The ball didn't just fall our way today. We made a lot of dropped balls and that's me," he said. "That's me, Shaky Smithson. I'm going to stand up and I take full blame for this loss."

It came down to the plays, he explained, that quarterback Terrance Cain threw to him and were dropped.

PUBLIC REMINDER: When Boise State players ran onto the turf just prior to kickoff, the Broncos were met at midfield by several jawing Utah Utes. During the pregame coin toss, referee Jack Folliard of the Pac-10 crew officiating the game reminded the teams about being good sports.

"The emphasis is going to be on sportsmanship," Folliard told the captains over the public address system. "We are going to have sportsmanship the rest of the way. Understand? Agreeable?"

EXTRA POINTS: Media relations manager Mark Wallington said 190 press credentials were issued for the game, the second-most in the 19-year history of the bowl . . . Scouts from the Indianapolis Colts and New Orleans Saints were in attendance . . . Boyz II Men sang the national anthem and a F-22 Raptor and an F-15 Eagle from nearby Nellis Air Force Base did a pregame flyover . . . The attendance was 41,923, second-best in bowl history and the third largest ever to attend a football game in Nevada.