How far will Boise State go? That's the big story this college football season . The Broncos are the team to watch and the team to follow, whether you want to see this "cinderella" become the first non BCS team to win a national title, or want to see them exposed as a 2nd tier team making their name off of a weak schedule. The key to this question may lie in the strength of their conference.
Make no mistake, they have built a solid team, beating some good schools over the past few years. Unfortunately most people wouldn't consider any of their recent opponents "Elite". They were supposed to be playing one of these teams to kick off their season in 2010, Virginia Tech. The Hokies were a top 15 team in the preseason polls, with national title hopes, but they have been exposed as pretenders over the first two weeks. Sure they played well and should have beat Boise State (more on that to follow), but they followed that up with a 21-16 loss to James Madison, a sub division (formerly known as Division II) team.
This has once again put the strength of the Boise State schedule into question, after all it took a last minute drive and 2 key calls going their way (an illegal block in the back by Boise State called off, and a questionable personal foul on the Virginia Tech defense) for them to eek out the win in Blacksburg.
With Boise State's next two opponents already having an early loss ( Oregon State 30-21 to TCU, Wyoming 34-7 to Texas) not only will they need wins, they will need to win convincingly and will still be questioned if they do.
Enter the Nevada Wolf Pack, the next best team in the WAC and possibly the key to Boise State's title run. If Nevada can prove they can at least stay competitive with two of college football's top team,s they have a chance to legitimize the WAC, and Boise State's strength of schedule in the process. This means the next two weeks will be critical, as Nevada plays Cal (who are currently ranked#24 in the Coaches Poll) Friday the 17th, and BYU on the 25th. If the Wolf Pack are able to keep it close in both games and pull out a win the WAC should earn some respect on the national stage, and college football will take notice. If Nevada looks awful and plays the way they did against Notre Dame in 2009 losing (35-0) however, Boise State's title hopes may be ruined.
The best case for Boise State this season is to go to Reno on November 26th to face an undefeated Nevada team, who in that situation would undoubtedly be ranked (and have recently received votes in both national polls), and beat them convincingly. No longer would they have to defend themselves, no longer would anyone be able to deny them a shot at the BCS championship based on a "weak schedule".
The story of the 2010 college football season is Boise State, and their key to success very well could, and maybe should, be their WAC rival Nevada.