Only four weeks into the 2010 college football season and critics are already criticizing the Boise State Broncos for their poor strength on schedule and developing reasons to keep them out of the BCS Championship game. These criticisms started long before a single game was played.
Pundits complained about Boise State's preseason No. 3 ranking. Criticism ceased for a short time after Boise State beat then No. 10 ranked Virginia Tech in a virtual home game for the Hokies. The silence was short-lived. BSU's first buy week cost them dearly as Virginia Tech lost to James Madison and all but erased the value of an early victory over and Automatic Qualifying power house. The Broncos then did what they were supposed to do in Week 3, traveling to Laramie, WY and demolishing the Wyoming Cowboys. Week 4 brought another top-25 opponent in Oregon State, which Boise State beat in their first home game of the season.
The Broncos seem primed to sneak into the National Championship game, as long as there is only one undefeated team left from the six BCS Conferences. Should Ohio State and Alabama make it through their respective schedule unblemished, they deserve to face one another for the BCS title.
The problem lies in the fact that we could once again see a one loss BCS Conference team supplant an undefeated Boise State for a place in the National Championship game. The BSU players, coaches, and fans (not to mention college football fans as a whole) deserve better than this.
In previous years we have seen multiple undefeated teams spurned from the National Championship game in favor of BCS Conference teams. Utah, Boise State, TCU, and Auburn all finished their seasons undefeated, but were unable to play for the National Title. These previous seasons had legitimate excuses for leaving these teams out of the National Title picture.
For the most part, these teams entered the season with decent, but not great rankings and worked their way up the rankings. These teams were, for the most, one or two season aberrations. There was no history behind these teams to support a top-five preseason ranking. This is why the 2010 college football season is so intriguing.
Boise State has built a history of excellence over the past decade. The past 10 years has seen Boise State win eight conference championships, finishing six of those seasons with one loss or fewer (two undefeated seasons).
Last season, Boise State finished the season undefeated and ranked in the top five. This season, BSU returns 20 of 22 starters. In most cases, this would be a formula for a No. 1 preseason ranking. Boise State will have to settle for No. 3.
Boise State has a very good chance at playing for the National Title, and if they do get that chance it will be well deserved. The unfortunate thing about this scenario is that the Broncos do not control their own fate. Their affiliation with the WAC and their lack of schedule strength could be their downfall.
Boise State deserves a shot at the National Title. They have done all that they can with the cards they have been dealt, they are even upgrading conferences after this season (moving the the Mountain West). Fans and foes of the BCS alike should be rooting for Boise State to make it to the Big Game.
It will prove once and for all whether these Non-Automatic Qualifying schools deserve a place in the National Title picture. Should Boise State get the shaft again, we will again be left wondering "What if..."