In the snap of a finger, the mystery that surrounded the Washington offense all week turned into magic.
The Huskies, right up until pregame warmups, were successful in keeping secret the identity of their starting quarterback. Jake Browning became the first true freshman to ever start a season opener at quarterback for the Huskies, and around him UW's offensive performance in the first half went from secret to suspect.
Then, suddenly, the stage was set. The Huskies, trailing by three points, got the ball back at their own 35-yard line with 1:59 left.
Browning led UW inside the Boise State 20-yard line before the drive came to a halt. So too did the Huskies' comeback bid after Cameron Van Winkle missed a 46-yard field- goal attempt wide right with 21 seconds left, helping the No. 23 Broncos escape with a wild 16-13 victory in UW coach Chris Petersen's return to Boise.
Browning, after completing a second-down screen pass to Dwayne Washington, spiked the ball at the 29-yard line with 21 seconds left. It was unclear if Browning was told by coaches to spike it on third down.
Van Winkle, who converted two earlier field goals in the second half, was stalled by a Boise State timeout, then stepped up and missed his attempt just slightly wide right.
Browning, the much-hyped true freshman from Folsom, Calif., completed 20 of 35 passes for 150 yards and one interception in his debut.
At halftime, it didn't appear the Huskies had much hope.
Boise State used two long drives in the first half to take a 13-0 lead. The Broncos added a field goal in the final seconds of the first half to take a 16-0 lead.
The margin felt much larger after a first half in which the Huskies managed just 56 yards on 21 plays. Boise State gained 254 first-half yards.
Sparked by a Dante Pettis' 76-yard punt return for a touchdown, plus a rejuvenated defensive effort, the Huskies had life in the second half, cutting a 16-point halftime deficit to three points in the fourth quarter.
Van Winkle converted a 40-yard field goal late in the third quarter and, after Jaydon Mickens blocked a Boise State punt deep in the Broncos territory, Van Winkle ripped another field goal, this from 28 yards, to cut Boise State's lead to 16-13.
Petersen, in his second year as the UW coach, had grown accustomed to success in Boise, going 47-2 at Albertsons Stadium in his eight years as the Broncos' coach. The return to Boise, he admitted beforehand, would be awkward.
Petersen's young offense looked awkward and out of sorts early. Browning showed fleeting flashes of potential before the second-largest crowd, 36,836, ever at Albertsons Stadium, but couldn't get the offense going with any consistency in the first half.