Ahhh... The BCS bowls. Every year the top 10 teams in the country play each other in a battle of titans to determine the champions of each bowl. Usually, the teams picked for the bowls are in the six BCS conferences, the ACC, the SEC, the Pac-10, Big East, Big Ten, and the Big Twelve. In the last two seasons however, the BCS party has been crashed by non-BCS conference teams that played their easy schedules and ran the table. The BCS committee of computers put a 12-0 Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl in 2006-2007 and then 12-0 Hawaii in the Sugar Bowl in 2007-2008. The placing of non-BCS conference teams has had mixed results. In 2007, Boise State upset Oklahoma43-42 in overtime on the Statue of Liberty play where Ian Johnson ran in for a two point conversion. Boise State ended the season as the only undefeated team in the country. In the 2008 Sugar Bowl, red hot Georgia was pitted against undefeated Hawaii and Hawaii, the only undefeated team in the country got pummeled 40-11. So the question of whether undefeated non-BCS conference teams can match up to the best BCS conference teams can go either way. But whether they do or not, an undefeated WAC or Mountain West team will most likely crash the BCS party of the 2008-2009 season. That said, here's my top five non-BCS conference team with the best chance to run the table:
5. Boise State:
Why they will go undefeated: The Broncos have returning starter Senior Ian Johnson at running back and five returning wide receivers. Yes this is THE Ian Johnson who scored on the statue of liberty two point conversion to upset Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. The Broncos also must break in a new quarterback but Senior Bush Hamdan and Freshman Kellen Moore both proved ready to run the offense and keep BSU in the WAC race and maybe even in the BCS one.
Why they won’t: The Broncos must replace 4 of their five starting offensive lineman, a daunting task for anyone unless you’re USC or Ohio State. They also have questions about Defensive line and back and need to find a replacement for all WACsafety Marty Tadman. They also must beat Oregon, Southern Miss, Bowling Green, Nevada, and Fresno State. They should be playing Fresno for the WAC title. My prediction: 2nd place in the WAC
4. Central Michigan:
Why they will go undefeated: With 16 starters back, eight on offense and eight on defense the Chippewas look to win the Mideastern Athletic Conference title for the third year in a row. Led by Junior quarterback Dan Lefevour who had 29 touchdowns in the air and 19 touchdowns on the ground and both returning wide receivers, the Chippewas' offense looks to be better than they’ve ever been before.
Why they won’t: Although they return eight starters on defense, the Chippewas lost two of their staring linebackers and the replacements are unproven while returning middle linebacker Nick Bellore has a year of starting experience. The defense also has a knack for giving up points, nearly 37 per game. They should win all their MAC games although most people said that last year and they lost to teams like Western Michigan. The potential losses are at Purdue, at Indiana, and at home against Ball State and Buffalo. Their almost sure loss is at Georgia. My prediction: 1st place in the MAC
3. Fresno State:
Why they will go undefeated: The Bulldogs return 18 starters from a 9-4 team that beat Georgia Tech last year 48-20 in the Humanitarian Bowl. They return fifth year senior QB Tom Brandstater and the rest of the offense except for their running back. The defense, with eight starters should be as equally menacing. The passing game and the defense could carry this team early until the running game gels.
Why they won’t: With their opener versus Rutgers, a very similar team and a home game against Wisconsin the first two games look to be a huge challenge. They will win one but lose the other. Then they play at Toledo and at UCLA. This might be one of the hardest first four games that any team has in the country. They also still have to play Nevada and at Boise State for the last game of the season. My prediction: 1st place in the WAC
Why they will go undefeated: They are the almost unanimous favorite to run the table. They return 4000 yard passer Max Hall at quarterback and MWC freshman of the year Harvey Unga at running back. They also have first team all MWC Tight End Dennis Pitta and receivers Austin Collie and Michael Reed. The offensive line returns four starters. The defense returns End Jan Jorgensen and LB David Nixon the new top tacklers and sack leaders.
Why they won’t: Defense wins games. The offense should have no problems scoring, but the defense stopping the other team from scoring is a different story. They lose their top tacklers from last year plus their entire secondary. Look for this to be their weakness throughout the season as they get into frequent shootouts and win close games. My prediction: 2nd place in the Mountain West
And now I present to you, my 2008 #1 non-conference potential BCS crasher, the Utah Utes!
Explanation: They return quarterback Brian Johnson, running backs Matt Asaita and Darrel Mack, receivers Brent Casteel, Bradon Godfrey, David Reed, and Freddy Brown. Johnson, Asaita, Casteel, and Mack all missed most of the season or all of it last year to injuries. And let me remind you, Utahstill went 9-4 and beat Navy in the Poinsetta bowl without the injured four. They also return four starting offensive lineman. On defense the Utes lost two linebackers, two defensive linemen, and a safety. But corners Brice McCain and R.J. Stanford proved to be more than capable and nickel back Sean Smith led the team in interceptions. Robert Johnson, Joe Dale and RJ Rice are all experienced safeties and, as long as the front line can get a little pressure on the quarterback and the linebacker corps can find a couple decent contributors, the defense will be among the best in the conference. Utah’s only real tests are Texas Christian, Oregon State, New Mexico, and Brigham Young, which will most likely be the Mountain West title game. Running the table will only take place if they can pull off wins there. Look for the Utes to upset Oregon State and play BYU in a battle of undefeated teams looking to crash the big party. My prediction: 1st place in the Mountain West