January in The Citi: Why the Boise State Broncos Should Play for a Title
It isn't often, anymore, that you meet someone very unfamiliar with Boise State football.
It will happen even less now that the Broncos are the No. 5 team in the country.
Fewer and fewer people—outside of Moscow, Idaho and Eugene, Oregon—are making jokes about the blue field, tiny capacity, and lack of talent. And for those that still do, the joke is on them.
After four weeks of college football, 10 of the top 15 teams in the preseason AP poll have been beaten. The Broncos have matched their best ranking in program history for the first time since their Fiesta Bowl victory over Oklahoma.
And so the debate begins: Do the Boise State Broncos have any place playing in the BCS National Championship game?
We all know the Broncos' schedule is horrific. The biggest obstacle standing in the way of Pasadena is their strength of schedule. This is evidenced by the fact that if I asked you the mascot of the Broncos' opponent this weekend—UC Davis—you would probably have to get to the nearest computer to look it up.
I'll save you the time. The Aggies.
The scheduling issue is helped mightily by the Broncos' opening win over Oregon in Boise. Since losing that game, 19-8, the Ducks have gone on to beat a rebuilding Purdue team, end the nation's longest winning streak, and absolutely destroy the then-No. 6 Cal Golden Bears.
If Oregon can keep playing at a high level and if Tulsa—another BSU opponent—can beat a good Houston team, it should soften the SoS blow in the Broncos' bid. After all, we know the WAC slate isn't going to help.
Also helping the Broncos along the way will be the growing respect for the program from pollsters and national media—except ESPN analyst Mark May. It is becoming increasingly difficult to overlook the most dominant program since 2000.
No, they haven't played a lot of big teams in that time, but going undefeated in the regular season is far easier said than done. Just ask any of the one-loss teams ranked ahead of the Broncos at the start of the season.
Yet, the Broncos have done it three times since 2002.
Many people revert back to Boise's embarrassing loss at Georgia in 2005, saying that they had a chance to prove themselves, and fell flat on their faces to a good SEC team. What do those same people say about Georgia's blowouts over Oklahoma State, Ole Miss, Auburn, and LSU, all happening more recently than the Broncos?
They have played in other big games, and have shown that they are beyond capable.
Head Coach Chris Petersen is quick to point out that "title talk" and the high ranking may not last forever.
"If this (poll) came after the 13th game of the season, we'd be feeling pretty darn good about it. But after four games, where you are in the polls is meaningless," he said Sunday night. "We've seen each week with a top team losing that all this goes away with the snap of the fingers if you don’t take care of business."
Good luck explaining the meaningless part to the Bronco boosters and the city of Boise. All discussions around Boise water coolers this week will be about which method of transportation should be used for the 852-mile trip to Pasadena.
And why not?
Sometimes, when a team does all you have asked of them, they deserve a chance at something big. What does anyone have to lose? If the Broncos face the Gators or Longhorns and get annihilated, the haters can keep hating for perhaps their point will have been proven.
I, for one, believe that a national title is within reach.
And if they can win it all, look out for back-to-back national championships, as the Broncos return 20 of 22 starters next season.
So next February, when you're taking the bus to work, don't be surprised if the man with the thick New England accent is sporting his "Boise State National Championship" t-shirt.
People around the country are about to get very familiar with the Boise State Broncos.
Ladies and gentlemen, allow me the honor of being the first to introduce you to the 2009-2010 National Champions.
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