It’s hard to imagine but one half of the BCS title game could be decided on Labor Day. The Boise State Broncos could very well be walking out of FedEx Field Monday night having to simply hold serve the rest of the season to reach Tempe and the national title game.
Following Virginia Tech, the two toughest games left on the Bronco schedule are a home game versus 24th ranked Oregon State and a road match-up in late November at Nevada.
Oregon State, an 8-5 club from a year ago, has to replace its offensive leader in first team All-Pac 10 quarterback Ryan Canfield. Behind Canfield in ’09, the Beaver passing attack ranked 27th in the nation, two spots higher than Kellen Moore and the dynamic passing attack of the Broncos.
Now Oregon State must depend on sophomore Ryan Katz to help continue the offensive success the Beavers experienced under Canfield. Tailback Jacquez Rodgers will surely help the first year starter, but I don’t see the offense putting up the kind of points to match a Beaver defense that was 84th overall in pass defense in ’09.
Oregon State has lost four straight September games versus ranked opponents and I fully expect Kellen Moore to exploit the shaky OSU pass defense and win this game handedly on the smurf turf.
The next toughest challenge on Boise States’ 87th ranked schedule comes two months later when the Broncos visit Nevada on November 26th.
The Wolfpack will have an even tougher time than OSU in slowing down Boise’s Heisman candidate quarterback. In ’09, Nevada ranked second to last in the entire NCAA in pass defense giving up 298 yards a game through the air.
Nevada was a 15 point favorite in their Hawaii Bowl finale versus SMU in the Mustangs’ first bowl game in 25 years. Although Nevada was the biggest favorite of the 2009 bowl season, they lost by the largest margin. In that game, Nevada allowed freshman quarterback Kyle Padron to complete 78 percent of his passes for 460 yards, an SMU record for passing yards in a game.
If a freshman quarterback can light up the Wolfpack defense for 460 yards, I’m sure Kellen Moore will have little problem doing the same.
So once again, if Boise State can go into an extremely hostile environment in front of 80,000+ and defeat a very good 10th ranked Virginia Tech team, they will more than likely be playing for a national title in January.
I am in no way saying that that this will be an easy game for Boise State, but did Alabama step into the BCS game by beating a seventh ranked Virginia Tech team in their opener in Atlanta last season? Absolutely not.
Unlike some critics, I in no way blame the Broncos for this. Boise State has consistently scheduled the best team that would actually play them year in and year out trying to make up for their pathetic WAC schedule. Boise is opening up at Virginia Tech this season and at Ole Miss next season. Neither school is returning the favor and visiting Boise the following year.
This situation is not Boise’s fault. The blame for this lies on the NCAA.
Many people, myself included, feel Boise State has no business playing in the national title game by beating just two top 25 opponents. This number has a great chance to beat cut in half if TCU takes care of business against Oregon State Saturday at Cowboys Stadium.
This would not be a problem if the NCAA had a a playoff.
With a playoff, college football fans would get to see how Boise State does week in and week out against the top programs in the nation.
One game is one game. Anything can happen in one game and that is no way to determine a national champion. College football needs to see these Davids play Goliath in consecutive weeks to see how tall they really stand.
Yes, Boise did win the one BCS bowl game they played versus a BCS opponent. All it took was a fourth and 18 conversion via a hook and lateral on the final play of regulation followed by the statue of liberty play on a two point conversion in overtime for a one point Bronco victory over Oklahoma.
That was one game. What if Boise had to play another top 10 opponent the following week? Would the result be the same? Nobody knows.
The rigorous schedules teams in conferences such as the Big Ten and the SEC play, take their toll on a team and every week presents its’ own problems. 11 of 12 SEC schools have a top 50 schedule compared to Boise whose schedule ranks at the bottom of the pack at 87. To throw in TCU for arguments’ sake, the Horned Frogs have the 93rd ranked schedule in the NCAA according to college football guru Phil Steele.
A team like Boise may play two games this season that they could actually lose. A team such as Alabama, Ohio State, or Florida will have six or seven games that present possibilities of an “L”. Next, if an Alabama, or an Oklahoma, or a Florida club are fortunate to survive their brutal schedule, then they are rewarded with a conference title game versus a team that is likely in or hovering around the top 10.
College football needs Boise State in the national title game. Whether the Broncos pull off another exciting victory such as they did in the Fiesta Bowl in ’08, or they get annihilated by a bigger, faster, stronger BCS school, it doesn’t matter. People outside Idaho will be upset enough either way that it will force the NCAA to think long and hard about a playoff system.
College football has been yearning for an end of the year tournament to decide its champion. Every other collegiate champion is determined this way and it's time for the NCAA to do the same with football.
A third trip in four years to Tempe by the Broncos might just be what college football needs to speed up the inevitable.