The king is dead, long live the king!
Or is he?
After Fresno State's thrilling 41-40 victory over Boise State in front of a raucous San Joaquin Valley crowd Friday night, it sure seems that the Broncos' days as the top dog of BCS busters are over.
But, as Lee Corso might say, not so fast, my friend!
Already with two losses this season, Boise State certainly seems to be rebuilding after seven straight seasons with at least 11 wins. In fact, since the BCS adopted the current format to add a BCS bowl in 2006, the Broncos have been in contention for a BCS berth every single year:
- In 2006 and 2009, they earned a BCS bid and won the Fiesta Bowl each time.
- In 2007, they lost to Hawaii in the last regular-season game and the Warriors got the BCS buster bid (then promptly got thrashed in the Sugar Bowl).
- In 2008, they finished the regular season undefeated but were relegated to the Poinsettia Bowl when Utah finished higher in the BCS standings.
- In 2010 and 2011, they were on course for a BCS buster bid when their undefeated seasons were derailed in November on a missed field goal (vs. Nevada in '10 and TCU in '11).
- In 2012, they lost the season opener at Michigan State but still had a chance for a BCS bid until a 21-19 home loss to San Diego State.
This year, it certainly looks like we don't need to wait until November to write off the Broncos. They were already only No. 37 in the simulated BCS standings coming into Friday's game, and after the loss, they'll probably be completely out of the standings, possibly for good.
Into the breach for the 2013 BCS buster bid is Fresno State, now 3-0 with a couple of harrowing escapes at home against Rutgers and Boise State. The Bulldogs' schedule now gets considerably easier as they have an open path to the Mountain West championship game. They were already the highest ranked non-BCS team going into Friday night's game (No. 32) and now they are expected to break into the top 25.
For the Bulldogs, there are two main challenges, one on the field and the other off. They must not suffer any letdowns as they'll likely have to remain undefeated to have a shot at a BCS bid. On the other hand, they have to figure out the messy business of how to reschedule the Sept. 14 game at Colorado that was postponed because of severe flooding.
Without that game, Fresno State has a much better chance of going undefeated. However, they will take a hit in the computer rankings because they will not get the benefit from the Buffs' strength of schedule component out of a very competitive Pac-12. If that game is to be made up, of course, the Bulldogs risk a BCS-killing loss in doubtlessly the toughest road game they'll play all year.
We're still in September, though, and the season is just unfolding. An upset loss by Fresno State will render all this moot, but for now, it's the best hope out of teams in conferences not possessing an automatic BCS bid.
That brings us back to Boise State, which certainly looks dead only four weeks into the season. But consider that there is now a MWC championship game and Boise State still controls its own destiny for it, and the fact that thanks to realignment, there really isn't much competition coming out of the MAC, C-USA and Sun Belt (and the WAC is gone), the Broncos are not as dead as you might think.
Suppose the Broncos right the ship and run the table the rest of the way and meet Fresno State again in the MWC title game, but this time they knock off the unbeaten Bulldogs. And also suppose that the Big 12 champ is just not up to snuff and ends up in the high teens in the final BCS standings. Both scenarios are still pretty plausible at this juncture.
In that event, all Boise State has to be is in the Top 16 of the final BCS standings to earn the buster bid in the BCS's final season. Even with two losses, it's not that far-fetched. Just remember, last year, Northern Illinois was ranked No. 26 in the BCS standings only two weeks before it surprisingly snapped up the BCS buster bid after upsetting Kent State in the MAC title game.
So resist the impulse to believe Boise State is already finished. Like the villain in a bad action movie, you can never be sure he's dead until the credits are rolling, and even then...