It seems like just yesterday, Boise State did the unthinkable. Defeating Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl was impressive for a mid-major in its own right, but beating the Sooners via a Statue of Liberty play and a two-point conversion in overtime followed immediately by a wedding proposal? That’s a storybook ending to any tale.
How did Boise State go from lovable giant-killers to a team so passionately rooted against in their season-opening tilt versus No. 6 Virginia Tech?
In 2006, BSU was Cinderella and celebrated as a team that had broken through the mid-major “glass ceiling” to make a statement in a BCS game. 2007 wasn’t as kind as the Broncos dropped three games, two to unranked opponents including their final opponent, East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl. Perhaps Boise State's rise just wasn't meant to be.
In 2008, they came so close to having another banner year. The Broncos went into Autzen Stadium, one of the most intimidating places to play in college football, and did the improbable again much to the adulation of college football fans in general. The lovable upstarts from Idaho had returned to the scene.
After leaving the Oregon Ducks asking, “What happened?,” they steamrolled their way through the Western Athletic Conference before meeting then-No. 11 Texas Christian in the Poinsettia Bowl. The No. 9 Broncos would fall to the Horned Frogs by a single point.
2009 began with a bang. Well, perhaps a punch would be a more appropriate term. The No. 16 Broncos invited then-No. 14 Oregon to the Smurf Turf for a rematch. Yet again, the Ducks fell in a close game. Following the loss, Oregon running back LeGarrette Blount clocked Bronco defensive end Byron Hout after being taunted.
Is this where Boise State became a little too big for their britches? The Broncos again found themselves a Top 10 team and destroyed their conference foes much as they had in seasons past. Undefeated, Boise wanted a spot in the National Championship game. Unfortunately, another mid-major had a legitimate argument: The very same Horned Frogs that defeated the Broncos two years prior.
Ranked No. 3 at the end of the regular season, the Horned Frogs held wins over then-No. 16 BYU on the road and then-No. 16 Utah. They, too, were conference champions. The result was viewed as a poor attempt at resolving the issue of placing an undefeated mid-major over an undefeated BCS conference team in No. 2 Texas. TCU and BSU met in what was referred to as “The Mid-Major Bowl.”
Boise State bested the Horned Frogs and put the memories of 2008 to rest, but something lingered. Once a team gets a taste of the limelight, much as Boise did in 2007, they badly want it back. Amassing a record of 50-4 and winning two BCS bowls over the past four seasons is impressive, but the nation is beginning to question the resume of Boise aside from victories over Oklahoma, Oregon and a talented TCU squad in that time.
Boise would no doubt contend that they’ve amassed so many wins in total along with the toppling of BCS foes that they’re due and it’s their time now. That’s the sentiment that some Boise State fans have and perhaps rightly so, but it’s starting to grate on the ears of various other fan bases.
A victory over Virginia Tech this Labor Day would only add weight to Boise fans’ claims. Unfortunately, for the Broncos, aside from Oregon State visiting Bronco Stadium in the third week of their season, it appears to be another easily demolished schedule in the WAC.
If another pair of undefeated BCS teams snubs Boise State from their dreams of hoisting a crystal football again, the shouting will only get louder. If the Broncos are blocked from the title game due to a one-loss BCS team’s presence, Cinderella’s time as a welcomed guest at the ball may run out entirely.