It was far from pretty, but 10th-ranked Boise State posted a 26-3 victory over No. 20 Utah at the 19th annual Maaco Bowl Las Vegas.
Kellen Moore connected on 28-of-38 passes for 339 yards with two touchdowns for the Broncos (12-1), who overcame four turnovers -- two of which were committed in the first quarter by the junior quarterback that finished fourth in the Heisman voting.
"For whatever reason, the first quarter didn't start out well," Moore said. "Utah made some plays, we screwed up on a few things. Fortunately for us, football is a long game and the defense played well in that first quarter to keep us in it."
Doug Martin had 147 yards on 17 carries and it was his 84-yard touchdown run that sparked Boise State. Austin Pettis caught 12 passes for 147 yards and a score in the win, the Broncos' fourth straight over Utah.
Terrance Cain threw for just 93 yards on 10-of-24 efficiency for the Utes (10-3), who had won nine straight postseason games, the longest active streak in the nation.
Cain was tabbed the starter after Jordan Wynn had shoulder surgery earlier this month.
"When you play a team the caliber of Boise State, you've got to be much better than we were tonight," said Utah head coach Kyle Whittingham. "I thought our defense hung in there for a while and then Kellen Moore got things going with their offense."
Boise State limited Utah to 200 yards of total offense and eight first downs.
It was an unsettling start for the Broncos as Moore fumbled on the opening drive of the game. Defensive tackle Neli A'asa recovered the ball to set Utah up at the Boise State 20. The Utes, however, came away with no points after Joe Phillips missed a 39-yard field goal.
Cain lost a fumble on the Utes' next possession, and Boise State called a fake punt/pass for embattled kicker Kyle Brotzman on fourth down at the Utah 47. Brotzman, of course, gained unwanted notoriety for missing makeable field goals near the end of regulation and in overtime in a 34-31 loss at Nevada on November 26 that cost the school a potential shot at a national championship. The senior's struggles in the state continued as he dropped what would have been a first-down completion.
Chaz Walker then picked off Moore later in the first quarter and Utah converted the turnover into a 44-yard Phillips field goal with 56 seconds left.
Walker forced a fumble on the Broncos' next series, but the Utes eventually punted the ball away. On the first play of the ensuing Boise State drive, Martin scampered 84 yards to the end zone.
Boise State scored nine points in the late stages of the second quarter to take a 16-3 lead. After Brotzman made a 29-yard field goal with 2:27 remaining, the Broncos got the ball back on a punt and Moore found Tyler Shoemaker for a 25-yard touchdown with 18 seconds showing on the clock. The Broncos failed on the two-point conversion.
Reggie Dunn returned the kickoff at the outset of the third quarter 40 yards to the Utah 46. If not for a tackle by Brotzman, Dunn could have went the distance. But Shaky Smithson coughed up the ball after a 23-yard gain on a short toss from Cain.
On the Broncos' next possession, Moore hit Pettis in stride for 46 yards, but Brian Blechen stripped the ball from behind at the Utah two-yard line. One of Pettis' teammates failed to secure the fumble before it rolled out of the end zone, resulting in a touchback.
After the Utes went three-and-out, Moore threw an 18-yard strike to Pettis to increase Boise State's lead to 23-3.
Cain lost another fumble in enemy territory and the Broncos looked to tack on three more points, but Brotzman's bid from 27 yards away was blocked.
Utah marched to the Boise State 19 before the drive stalled. Phillips came on to attempt a 36-yard field goal on the first play of the fourth quarter, but his kick went astray.
Brotzman drilled a 21-yarder to finish the scoring with 8:49 remaining.
Boise State amassed 543 yards on offense....Shoemaker had 89 yards on five receptions...Utah was 2-of-13 on third-down conversions...The Broncos improved to 7-4 in bowl games, while the Utes dropped to 12-4...Utah's last postseason loss came against Wisconsin in the 1996 Copper Bowl...This was Boise State's last game as a member of the Western Athletic Conference. The Broncos will join the Mountain West next season...Utah is leaving the MWC to join the Pac-12.