Boise State will play for the national championship this season, and it actually deserves that shot.
I practically invented the Boise State’s Schedule Stinks argument, but now I’m going against all that in the attempt, finally, to give this program a chance to prove it really is a superpower worthy of playing for it all.
Let’s start with the obvious.
Every year has to be taken on its own merits, and it’s not fair to give the 2011 team a break for something the 2006 team was able to do, but Boise State hasn’t been a fluke and it has answered the call time and again.
Since 1999, the first 10-win season in this phenomenal run, Boise State is 13-8 against teams that finished with fewer than four losses, winning seven of those games away from home. Since the start of the 2006 season, the Broncos are 8-1 against BCS conference teams.
The team has lost two games in the three-plus years since Chris Johnson and East Carolina ran away with the 2007 Hawaii Bowl. Those two were against an 11-2 TCU in the 2008 Poinsettia Bowl and to a 13-1 Nevada last year.
Sure, few will be convinced that a team that plays one or two BCS league teams per year should be considered in the mix with the top programs from the bigger conferences. The week-in, week-out struggle means something. But this year, what does it really mean to be in a BCS league?
Is it any achievement to beat Florida right now? No. How about South Carolina, Auburn or Tennessee? Boise State already beat Georgia on the road by 14.
Would Boise State beat San Jose State, Duke, Arizona, UCLA, Colorado, Washington State and Washington? Yeah. That’s Stanford’s schedule so far. And remember, Boise State has stopped Oregon cold the past two times they played.
The Broncos beat Virginia Tech last year in what amounted to a road game. Could they handle Troy, Wofford, Auburn, Florida State, at Virginia Tech, Boston College, at Maryland, and North Carolina? It wouldn’t be a walk in the park, but they could absolutely be 8-0 with Clemson’s schedule.
Toledo almost beat Ohio State at Ohio State, and lost in a controversial overtime game at Syracuse. In between, it was blown away by Boise State at home.
Nevada lost a 35-34 heartbreaker to Texas Tech — the same Texas Tech that beat Oklahoma. The week after that, the Wolf Pack were held to 59 rushing yards by the Broncos.
Fresno State lost by double digits to Cal, Nebraska and Mississippi, but it came up with 444 yards of total offense against both the Huskers and Rebels. The Bulldogs lost 57-7 at home against the Broncos.
Georgia has allowed six touchdown passes this year and hasn’t given up more than one in any one game — except for the three allowed to Kellen Moore in the opener.
Fine, you’re not convinced in any way and you’ll never be sold that a program with five straight double-digit-win seasons, eight in the past nine, 153 wins since 1999, and an average of 12 wins a year for the past 12 seasons doesn’t deserve to even be in the discussion for the BCS Championship Game.
I’m not entirely convinced, either, but I’m working on it. However, none of that matters because Boise State really might end up playing for the national championship, and here’s the path. (And remember, you didn’t see Texas Tech over Oklahoma or Syracuse over West Virginia coming.)
• Boise State wins out, highlighted by a dominant win over TCU.
• LSU beats Alabama.
• Oregon beats Stanford. Or if Alabama beats LSU, Oregon loses to someone other than Stanford.
• Oklahoma beats both Oklahoma State and Kansas State.
• Clemson loses at Georgia Tech, or at an emerging NC State, or at South Carolina or in the ACC championship game.
If all of that happens, then no one will want to see an LSU-Oregon BCS Championship Game after the Tigers won the season opener over the Ducks so convincingly. Then, it likely will come down to a fight between Oklahoma, Wisconsin, Alabama and Boise State for the No. 2 spot.
If Wisconsin beats Ohio State like a drum this weekend, it will roll through the rest of its schedule and pile-drive Michigan State in the rematch in the Big Ten championship game. The argument will be that the Badgers were able to avenge their only loss that came on the road on a fluky final play, but they’re out because the BCS computers are going to continue to hate the Big Ten.
Alabama will be close. If the Bama loses to LSU but runs the rest of the table convincingly, it will drop no further than third in the human polls and should stay in the top five of the computer rankings. But the humans won’t want a rematch with LSU and will vote accordingly.
Oklahoma probably will be Boise State’s biggest problem — and Oregon will be an issue, too, if Alabama beats LSU. The Sooners didn’t drop far enough this week to be out of BCS Championship Game range, and they’ll keep on moving up and up and up if they take care of No. 3 Oklahoma State and No. 8 Kansas State. If they do it in blowouts, and if they also crush No. 16 Texas A&M, they’re going to be in the top three of the human polls as long as Clemson and Stanford also lose. Then it’ll become a theoretical debate: a one-loss Oklahoma that lost a home game, or an unbeaten Boise State that has one, maybe two, decent wins.
The Broncos are No. 4 in the BCS rankings. Although they will drop like a stone if Clemson, Stanford and Kansas State keep winning, they’ll move back up if and when those three lose. The computers like schedules, but they like wins more, and they’ll put Boise State in the final top four if it’s one of two unbeaten teams left. That might be the tie-breaker.
With all of that said, if there are two unbeaten BCS teams left, Boise State is absolutely, positively out even though it’s ranked ahead of Clemson, Stanford and Kansas State. And that’s the real problem. No team in the history of the BCS has ever been in the top four in the rankings and didn’t move up when any of the higher ranked teams fell.
Boise State will be held to a different standard than any team in college football history — again. If you think that’s fair, then don’t put the team that high in the standings in the first place.
In the end, it’s going to be the LSU-Alabama winner taking home the crystal trophy. It might as well be Boise State that gets its turn to be thumped by the Southeastern Conference.