SEC Championship Game, Atlanta (2010)
Boise State owned the college football headlines after beating No. 10 Virginia Tech 33-30 on Labor Day.
The win brought them seven additional first-place votes in the latest Associated Press (AP) Top-25 Poll; 13 points separate them from No. 2 Ohio State.
The debate is already underway about whether or not the Broncos should play in the national championship game in January. Bowl predictions are premature with so much football left to play but one victory does not make a championship team.
If Boise State wins every remaining game, should they get a ticket to Arizona, and at whose expense? Not an SEC team.
The Broncos undeniably beat a big-league school in an exciting showdown in front of 80,000-plus fans. Unfortunately, it's the first and last game of any magnitude they'll play until bowl season.
There are no other currently-ranked teams on the Broncos' schedule. Oregon State from the Pac-10 is the toughest remaining competitor. Western Athletic Conference opponents are not likely to put up a fight; Boise State has lost only four conference games in nine years.
Compare the Broncos to almost any team in the SEC where nearly every conference game has bowl-level intensity and implications.
The Virginia Tech matchup was an anomaly for Boise State. For an SEC team, it would have been business as usual.
ESPN's Colin Cowherd summed up Boise State's Labor Day win on his radio show this way: "You know what last night is called in the SEC? Saturday. It happens eight times a year. Back-to-back-to back" ("The Herd" radio show, Tuesday, Sept 7).
Most ranked SEC teams, even with one or two losses, would have a better case to compete in the national championship game then Boise State with a perfect record.
The Broncos are well-coached and have talent, but their schedule doesn't equate to a sure trip to the Fiesta Bowl even if they're undefeated.
Following the 2004 season, Auburn was ranked No. 3 with a 12-0 record. They beat three teams ranked in the top 10 and won against No. 15 Tennessee for the conference title. In the end, they went to the Sugar Bowl while two other 12-0 teams (USC and Oklahoma) played in the championship game.
Having a perfect record doesn't guarantee a thing.
Since its inception in 1998, SEC teams have dominated the BCS. They've won six national championship games, including the last four. The Big 12 is a distant second with two wins. The SEC also has the most BCS bowl game wins with 14.
Seven SEC teams now sit in the AP Top-25 poll. At the end of a grinding season, the top team from the East and West division will play for the SEC title and a bowl berth.
It's difficult to compare Boise State's path to the national championship to that of Top-25 programs like Alabama, Florida, LSU, Arkansas, Auburn, Georgia, or South Carolina.
The caliber of talent those teams face every time they play each other is unmatched.
One look at current NFL team rosters is compelling: 292 players from SEC schools, 78 from the WAC.
Winning every game in a conference that has modest talent isn't the same as winning in the SEC or the Big 12, ACC, Big 10 and Pac 10 (with a fully-functional USC).
Boise State is moving to the Mountain West Conference next year to up their level of competition.That's a good move and it will provide more big-game opportunities. But with a few exceptions like TCU, Utah and BYU, the MWC is not known for its powerful football programs. Those three teams have combined for six BCS-busting bowl appearances in 11 years.
The Broncos have limited history versus an SEC team.
In 2005, the Broncos played a season opener against Georgia and were dismantled 48-13. They also played Arkansas in 2002 and were squashed 41-14.
A matchup today between Boise State and reigning national champ Alabama, or other ranked SEC teams, would not likely end in their favor. SEC teams simply have more experience playing against top talent in front of tough crowds week after week. It elevates the whole conference's level of performance.
A play-off system solves the dilemma of which teams have really earned a shot at the championship, but we're not there yet.
Weigh in, fans. If it came down to an undefeated Boise State vs. a one-or-two loss SEC team, who should get to play in the national championship game?