It seems like it's getting closer and closer.
Boise State's 2007 Fiesta Bowl win, along with Utah's 2008 Sugar Bowl victory, started the trend for "mid-major" programs to crash the exclusive BCS bowls.
Three teams have emerged as the primary BCS-busters: Boise State, Utah, and TCU. All three will enter the 2010 season with plenty of firepower.
In 2010, the obvious bets have to be Boise State and TCU, who battled it out in the Fiesta Bowl last season, resulting in a gritty 17-10 victory for the Broncos. Both teams return the majority of their talent, and are expected to achieve preseason rankings in the Top 10. Utah should be in the Top 25.
What's more interesting, Boise State will likely become the first ever non-BCS school ranked in the Top Five.
What Each Team Will Have to Do Get the National Championship
Well, both schools will obviously have to come out of conference play with a perfect record.
Given the fact that Chris Petersen's Broncos have a WAC record of 68-4, an undefeated run through conference seems like a definite outcome. As for TCU, they too have history on their side (58-13 in Mountain West play).
TCU, however, will have Utah and BYU to take care of.
As we all know, a perfect season doesn't necessarily warrant a national championship berth. Boise State knows that well, coming off of an undefeated season.
With regard to these two teams, non-conference games will be key.
TCU opens the season with Oregon State, who features Heisman-hopeful running back Jacquizz Rogers. The also play Baylor and SMU, two respectable programs. Obviously, TCU's conference schedule (with Utah, BYU, and Air Force), outweighs its non-conference schedule.
In an attempt to make up for a relatively soft conference schedule, Boise State has scheduled top-ranked Virginia Tech (a likely preseason Top 15) and Oregon State as its non-conference opponents.
Assuming Both Teams Go Undefeated, What Are Their National Championship Chances
Pretty good, for a few reasons.
First, obviously, is both of the teams' projected rankings to start the season off.
Boise State and TCU don't have to worry about climbing their way to the top this year. As a likely Top Five preseason team, Boise State will especially not have to. Given both teams' success last season (one loss between them), and the talent returning in 2010, they will undoubtedly begin at the top. They just have to not screw up.
Secondly, aside from Alabama, no BCS team looks to be unbeatable. The names we've heard non-stop for the past few years, such as Tim Tebow, Colt McCoy, and Sam Bradford, are gone. For the first time, Boise State and TCU are in the same position as USC in 2007, Florida in 2008 and 2009, and Alabama in 2010.
Besides Alabama, what team in 2010 measures up to the talent of these teams in the corresponding years? At beginning of last season, we saw powerhouses Florida, Texas, and Oklahoma as potential undefeated teams, which made the chances of a non-BCS team making the national championship game slim to none.
That's not the case this year.
Who looks that good? Ohio State? Texas? Florida? Oregon?
With the talent returning to both Boise State and TCU, I'd take either of them against the teams mentioned above.
And the third and final reason is that both of these teams have championship-caliber talent on both sides of the ball. Period.
Boise State returns an unheard of 21 starters, including big-time passer Kellen Moore, who threw for 3,500 yards and 39 touchdowns. With Moore, the Broncos return a total of eight all-conference players.
TCU returns 16 starters, including all-conference quarterback Andy Dalton and potential all-American wide receiver/punt returner Jeremy Kerley. Altogether, the Horned Frogs return nine all-conference players.
Is This the Year?
It's hard to say, but it very well might be.
For the first time in BCS history, a non-BCS school looks to have a better-than-average chance at making it to the big game. Of all the years, this is it.
If it doesn't happen in 2010, then maybe it just isn't meant to be.