There are plenty of reasons to like Chris Petersen, the head coach of the Boise State football team. His teams have successfully slayed major college football programs from year-to-year. Who can forget the statue of liberty against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl?
But the brilliance of Petersen and the success of the Broncos is no coincidence. It starts with his scheduling pattern, in coordination with a tough offseason practice slate followed by a bye week during the second week of the college football season.
Since 2008, Boise State has had an open date this particular week in the season all but once. That year was 2009, when they upset Oregon at home and effectively ended LeGarrette Blount's college career.
Every other year, Boise has followed a tough opening game against a ranked opponent (except 2008, Idaho State) with a bye week. After beating Georgia and Virginia Tech in consecutive seasons in 2010 and 2011, on the road to boot, they came home to recuperate and get ready for the rest of their conference schedule.
Petersen gets his team ready to play. Whether it's offseason practices, training camp or a general feel inside that Bronco locker room that they are going to play hard for this school no matter what, these guys almost always are successful on a big stage.
They were two or three big LeVeon Bell rushes away from marching into East Lansing and knocking off Michigan State with an inexperienced quarterback. Imagine that scenario: four big time games to open the season against perennial powerhouses Oregon, Georgia, Virginia Tech and Michigan State and they walk away 4-0?
Either way, a 3-1 record in such games is an accomplishment. It's a testament to the system Petersen employs, and it's one of the reasons he's busted up recruiting patterns in the Northwest and other parts of the country.
Where will Boise State finish this season?
With the off week, Boise can recharge their batteries, so to speak. That's especially crucial this year, when they can look at film for two weeks in preparation for what will be a soft schedule in the Mountain West.
BYU, Hawaii and sudden rival Nevada will all be good measurements for Boise State this year. None come close to the type of game Michigan State gave the Broncos to open the season, though.
As Boise goes about their business in the conference, we will see if this is a team that can make some noise in a signature bowl or one that will retool for a big run next season. Either way, they owe some of their recent and continued success to the pattern Petersen laid out.
Other mid-majors looking to break into the national recruiting and contention picture should follow this blueprint going forward, especially if they feel they have the talent to crack the BCS radar.