Probably the most important (or at least what lingers in voters' minds the most) thing for a non-AQ school is its out of conference schedule.
Now all three have faced some bad teams out of conference, but it isn't their fault entirely. Some of the schools were projected to be consistently ranked for the whole year and even sneak into a BCS game.
Now while it doesn't look like any of that will happen for these schools, we still need to take these teams' schedules and records into account to better judge Boise, TCU and Utah.
Boise's opponents: Virginia Tech, Oregon State, Wyoming and Toledo
At the start of the year, only Toledo would have been seen as a cupcake team. Wyoming was fresh off a bowl season, and many expected them to get to a bowl game again. If they had an easier schedule, they would have. But having to face Texas, Boise, TCU and Utah all within a five-week period has hurt the Cowboys' chances of getting back to a bowl and hurts Boise in the BCS computers.
Oregon State was a dark horse to be the Pac-10 champ at the start of the year. However, they are now 3-3 and have a tough schedule ahead of them with UCLA, USC, Stanford and Oregon left out of the six games remaining. They would need to win one of those games and not lose to Cal and Washington St. to even make a bowl this year. By the way, they lost one of the Rodgers brothers, James, due to injury.
The hopes of Boise most likely rest on Virginia Tech. After an exciting opening game between the then-Top 10 teams, the Hokies then lost to FCS school James Madison at home and dropped from the rankings. They have since won five straight, including an upset of North Carolina State, and are once again ranked at No. 23.
The toughest remaining opponents on their schedule are Georgia Tech, Miami and North Carolina. If they can run the table and win the ACC title game, it will boost the Broncos' status. That will still be a tall order, as that would most likely mean that Tech would have to beat a Florida State team that seems to have found their some of its swagger again.
If Virginia Tech fails, don't expect the Broncos to get much love from the pollsters.