Updated December 2, 2023 - 5:53 pm
The Mountain West title had been decided long before Boise State players gave interim coach Spencer Danielson a Gatorade bath.
Most of the 31,473-person crowd — a conference record for the championship game — had already gone home.
Cheers of “Boi-se State” echoed around Allegiant Stadium from the Broncos faithful who remained, while UNLV and coach Barry Odom left the field.
“We’ll learn from what it takes to go win one of these,” Odom said. “And we’ll be better the next time we’re in it.”
UNLV struggled on both sides of the ball Saturday, falling 44-20 to Boise State in the Mountain West championship game. It’s the Broncos’ fifth conference title, the most in Mountain West history despite Boise State only joining before the 2011 season. The Rebels missed a chance at their first Mountain West title.
Quarterback Taylen Green had 316 total yards and four touchdowns for the Broncos (8-5) to be named offensive MVP. Linebacker Alexander Teubner was selected as defensive MVP after recording a team-best 10 tackles and recovering a fumble.
Redshirt freshman quarterback Jayden Maiava committed three turnovers — two interceptions and a fumble — for the Rebels (9-4), while the defense allowed 527 yards of total offense, including 301 rushing yards.
Odom said Maiava, who’s 7-3 as a starter, will learn from the experience. The UNLV coach also took responsibility for his team’s defensive issues, and said he’s simply proud of how his team came together this season.
“We had a heck of a team and a brotherhood,” Odom said.
The Broncos started with a methodical drive to take a 7-0 lead, and the Rebels had a composed response, capped by a 5-yard touchdown run from fifth-year tailback Vincent Davis.
Maiava connected with junior wideout Ricky White three times for 52 yards on UNLV’s opening drive. The former Michigan State transfer finished the game with 1,386 yards, a new single-season program record, surpassing Jim Sandusky’s 1,346-yard campaign in 1981.
“It’s an honor really,” White said. “I’m thankful. I’m blessed. But I’m going to keep working. We’ve got another game, so I want to go out there and help my team win.”
Mountain West offensive player of the year Ashton Jeanty scored from 5 yards out to give Boise State the lead again, but linebacker Fred Thompkins seemed to swing the momentum back to UNLV with a 47-yard interception return for a touchdown on the first play of the second quarter to tie the game at 14.
Instead, it was UNLV’s final trip to the end zone.
Green completed a 57-yard flea flicker touchdown to regain control of the game, and Maiava fumbled on the Rebels’ ensuing possession. Green punished the mistake immediately, faking a handoff on a jet sweep before slaloming through UNLV defenders for a 70-yard touchdown.
Maiava was intercepted for the first time to end UNLV’s next drive, and the Rebels never pulled closer than 11 points in the second half. Sixth-year kicker Jose Pizano was responsible for the team’s final six points.
“I hate that we didn’t win the championship today,” Odom said. “It will drive and motivate me for my career. Credit to Boise, they’ve got a hell of a team. Their coaching staff got them ready to play. They’ve got good players.”