LAS VEGAS — Hey, BCS — No. 8 Boise State wants your attention.
The Broncos see their 56-24 victory over Arizona State on Thursday night in the MAACO Bowl as more than just a win over a middle-tier Pac-12 team.
"I think we made a statement," said Doug Martin, who returned the opening kickoff 100 yards for a touchdown and was voted the game's MVP. "It comes down to players who have a chip on their shoulders. It shows we're here and we're winners."
Boise State (12-1) finished seventh in the BCS standings, but wasn't invited to one of its big-money bowl games — the fourth time that has happened after the school finished within the BCS' top 10. The Mountain West and Pac-12 each received $1.1 million from the bowl.
Coach Chris Petersen said the Broncos looked at the game as another chance to showcase the program to a national audience.
"There were two things we wanted to do in this game: Start fast, and they did that, and finish strong, and they did that," Petersen said. "We had a chance to be back on ESPN and have a lot of people see our game and our team."
It also gave the Broncos a chance to say goodbye to Kellen Moore, the NCAA's winningest quarterback who led Boise State on a remarkable four-year run.
"You got to finish things off," Moore said
He threw for 293 yards and two touchdowns, though he also had two interceptions and lost a fumble. The turnovers won't matter as fans in Idaho remember the star who has set school records for passing yards, touchdowns, completions and total offense, and finished fifth among NCAA quarterbacks for passing yards while racking up 50 total wins.
"We always talk about finish seasons or finish games," Moore said. "You're talking about finishing careers, so there's no reason to settle or relax."
Along with the return, Martin ran for 151 yards and another touchdown.
Arizona State (6-7) never seriously threatened the Broncos even though Boise State allowed Rashad Ross' 98-yard kickoff return for a touchdown to start the second half.
"It spread the word about Boise State," Moore said. "We took advantage of opportunities to elevate this program."
Petersen said the program will miss Moore.
"I have no idea what we're going to do without Kellen Moore — so don't even ask," Petersen said before reporters could ask a question during a news conference after the game.
Arizona State missed on several opportunities to make the game closer, wasting a bowl-record 241-yard receiving effort by Gerell Robinson, who caught a touchdown pass in the fourth quarter after the Broncos had already scored 49 points.
Moore played well enough in his last college game to keep his team scoring, despite some missteps.
"When you're at a good place with good people, good things happen," Moore said.
Petersen said it was important to put a stamp on the careers of Moore and his fellow seniors.
"These guys took it up a notch or two," Petersen said. "It was extremely important to the coaching staff and this team."
Martin finished with 301 all-purpose yards, breaking a bowl record set in 1997 by Air Force's Pat Johnson. His touchdown return also set a record for the longest kickoff return in MAACO Bowl history. It was the first time the opening kickoff had been returned for a score in any bowl game since Ohio State's Ted Ginn Jr. did it in the 2007 BCS title game.
Boise State finished with a bowl record in points scored by a single team, and the teams combined for the highest scoring game in the bowl's 20-year history.
The most costly mistake for Arizona State came in the third quarter, as the Sun Devils tried to capitalize on a fumble by Moore — his third turnover of the game. The Sun Devils drove 49 yards to Boise State's 1, but Brock Osweiler's fourth-down pass was intercepted by Jamar Taylor, who returned it 100 yards for a touchdown to make it 35-10.
Moments before the play, Arizona State coach Dennis Erickson tried to call a timeout as his team was late to the line of scrimmage, but his attempts weren't acknowledged by the referees.
"I should have just called a timeout," said Osweiler, who threw for 395 yards with two touchdowns.
Osweiler said his team had some confusion before the play, with the wrong players on the field and a delay in communicating what they wanted to do.
The Broncos led 28-3 at halftime with Martin's kick return, Moore's passing touchdowns and another by wide receiver Matt Miller on a trick play in the second quarter.
Arizona State didn't score after its first interception and failed to pick off a lofty, poorly aimed toss from Moore's brother, receiver Kirby Moore, that hit a defender in the chest during a trick play. Boise State scored its fourth touchdown later in the drive.
"In a game like this, momentum is everything, and we didn't capitalize and they did," Robinson said.
Erickson was coaching his last game for Arizona State, which let him go in November after the Sun Devils finished the regular season on a four-game losing streak.
Erickson said he doesn't think his career is finished.
"I'll be involved in football some way. I'm not sure exactly what," he said.
Moore said he isn't sure where his future in professional football may go.
"I focused on this thing first. (I'm) looking to the opportunities ahead of (me)," Moore said. "We've been playing well for four years and you want to see where you can go from here."
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