The picture is of Boise State's Chris Petersen shaking hands with TCU's Gary Patterson following the Bronco's loss to TCU in last year's Poinsettia Bowl in San Diego. Did the Bronco's 2008 regular season schedule prepare them for a tough TCU? Some would suggest it did little to help. The same can be said for this year’s schedule, which has been questioned by many poll voters, journalists and broadcasters as being too weak. Did this year's schedule filled with what many consider weak opponents help the Bronco's in preparation to play in their second BCS bowl in three years? Granted, BSU has a game next weekend against New Mexico State, yet another weak WAC team and most are saying that game is another win for Boise State, their 13th of the year. If the stars all line up the way they are expected to line up the Broncos will be invited to most likely the Fiesta Bowl in Phoenix to take on what appears now to be Penn State, Iowa or perhaps the Nebraska/Texas loser. But did their 2009 WAC and non conference schedule give the Bronco's the proper preparation for the likes of the Nittany Lions, Hawkeyes, Cornhuskers or the Longhorns? Again, there are doubters.
The Broncos started this year's schedule against a potential Pac 10 champion and Rose Bowl team, the Oregon Ducks. The 19-8 BSU victory over the Ducks would suggest that they handled the mighty Duck offense rather well. In fact they defended the Ducks as well as any other team has this year. Following Oregon the Broncos had wins over Miami-Ohio, Bowling Green, UC Davis and Tulsa. These were not exactly big time programs. In 2008 the Bronco's took on Idaho State, Bowling Green, Oregon and Southern Mississippi winning their entire non conference schedule and going 12-0 in the regular season before their 1 point loss to TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.
The first time the Bronco's played in a BCS bowl game, the Fiesta Bowl on Jan. 1, 2007, they beat Oklahoma in one of the most exciting games - if not THE most exciting game - in the history of college football. That year, the Bronco's ended the season at 12-0 with wins over all WAC opponents as well as Sacramento State, Oregon State, Wyoming and Utah. This was a much tougher non-conference schedule than last years or this year’s schedule. Were they better prepared in 2006 because they had been tested by stronger competition? I think so.
This years BCS bowl game will feature another Oklahoma type team, although it won't be the Sooners. The team that is selected to play the Broncos will have played against a much tougher schedule and will come in with more actual game experience against solid football programs. Last year's TCU team had lost to Utah (then ranked #10), Oklahoma and had defeated Stanford. Three tough opponents which prepared the Frogs well for a game against Boise State. You can bet that regardless of who plays Boise State plays, the Broncos will come into the game with one disadvantage. The lack of having to have played against bowl caliber teams, with the exception of Oregon.
Chris Petersen is one great college football coach. Clearly he was able to prepare the Broncos for Oregon. Does coach Pete wish he would have had a few more serious tests for his team against bigger, more physical and faster teams to help him prepare his Broncos for this years BCS bowl game? I'll bet he does.