Boise State's Five Strikes: Kellen Moore Goes Five-Oh...Seven Against Hawaii
Somebody has to ask it. I'll do it.
How is it possible that Boise State scored only 42 points against Hawaii?
Seriously, the Broncos out-gained Hawaii by nearly 600 yards, accumulated a school-record 737 of their own, recorded 507 passing yards, scored three times on the ground, and held record-setting Hawaii QB Bryant Moniz to 127 passing yards. They picked up 30 first-downs, went 8-for-12 on third-downs and held Hawaii to 3-for-14.
And they only won by 35 points, aka five less than TCU destroyed previously undefeated Utah by.
Regardless, Boise piled on another win, their 22nd consecutive, aka the nation's longest.
And Kellen Moore established himself as a top-three Heisman nominee with a 500-yard passing day.
And somehow it was all overshadowed by TCU's 47-7 thumping of the Utes, which established the Horned Frogs as the definitive third team in the BCS standings, way too far ahead of Boise to close the gap unless TCU loses.
And far enough ahead to snatch up a spot in the National Championship game (the spot that should belong to these Broncos) should Auburn or Oregon take a tumble in these final weeks of the season.
Still, Boise has plenty to play for.
Let's see why in my five strikes...
STRIKE ONE: Boise Still Has Tough Games Left On The Schedule, Starting Friday
Every other day, some Bronco or Vandal comes out and says something awful about the other in the paper.
First it was Robb Akey and Chris Petersen airing their concerns over the continuation of the Boise State-Idaho rivalry once the Broncos move on to the Mountain West Conference next year. Petersen wants any future contests to be held at Bronco Stadium, for a natural reason: more seating. Akey counters that that would be unfair, and defeat the purpose of the rivalry. Both have valid points.
Then Idaho running-back Deonte Jackson took it to another level yesterday, telling the media that BSU president Bob Kustra was a "blue and orange snot," in regards to his comments that Idaho fans are generally "nasty and inebriated."
Clearly, the potential swan-song of this rivalry is bringing out all the emotions.
Frankly, these comments scare me a little, and the Vandals knowing this could be their last ever impression on the national media in regards to Boise State scares me even more. Mark this down as Idaho's new "biggest game ever." They would like nothing else than to beat the "blue and orange snot" out of the Broncos, ending their undefeated quest, and their 22-game winning streak.
But, even if the Broncos get past the Vandals (which I'm predicting they will, 47-20), the tough stretch of their schedule doesn't end.
Next Friday, they host 6-2 Fresno State, who is 4-1 in the WAC and could take the league title with a victory. The week after that, they travel to Reno to take on Nevada, who is 3-1 in the WAC and could just as easily win the league title.
After Idaho, they face teams in back-to-back weeks with a combined 13-5 record.
This season ain't over yet.
Strike TWO: There's More to Play For Then a National Championship Invite
This much is clear. If the season ended today, Boise might not only be on the outside looking in at the BCS Championship Game, but at the BCS itself.
This isn't last season, when Boise was a shoe-in for an at-large spot, and they wound up playing TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. In fact, if Auburn and Oregon win out, and LSU, Oklahoma State, Nebraska or Stanford win out, Boise might be back in the MPC Computers Bowl as a 12-0 team, riding a 26-game winning streak.
It probably won't come to that (the MPC Computers Bowl), but Boise could very easily wind up playing in a lower-level bowl, possibly the Liberty again, after being sniped by the one team they thought wouldn't get in the way of their championship run...TCU.
Having their season practically decided already hasn't had much influence on the way the Broncos played so far this season, so I wouldn't expect this most recent revelation to do much to dim their confidence, but it is sad.
Which begs the question, what else is left for them to play for?
Well, there are several answers:
1) Kellen Moore as a legit Heisman contender. Yes, I said that. If Cam Newton takes a stumble during this last stretch where he faces some pretty talented defenses, Moore could easily jump into the mix, as a serious candidate. Passing for 507 yards certainly gains you some momentum, and he has two Heisman worthy moments: the last-minute drive to win the game against Virginia Tech and his TD catch a few weeks ago.
2) The streak. It currently sits at 22, and it could finish the season at 26, 27 if the Broncos win their bowl game. Heading into a new conference next season, and with a new rivalry with TCU being born, it will certainly be tougher for the Broncos to maintain it, but they will return Jeremy Avery, Doug Martin and Kellen Moore next season, as well as most of their defense, and some talented young receivers. They'll have the experience to take this streak well into the 30s.
3) Chris Petersen. The head coach has kept this team hungry all season long, for going on five seasons now. He has two BCS game wins, and a 57-4 record, including a 35-1 mark in the WAC. Coach Pete is easily one of the top coaches in the game, and some teams will make serious runs at him this off-season. We already know Minnesota is one, but North Carolina, Rutgers, Arizona State, and yes, even Colorado could emerge as serious candidates.
4) Pride. Simple and plain. The Broncos should be, and are, playing for pride. Who cares if the media won't reward them with a shot at a title. They'll just continue to win, knocking down more doors, and making an even greater case that they should one-day get that chance.
5) Leaving the WAC as the best-of-the-best. Boise State has won the WAC three of the last four years, and two in a row. Making it three in a row, and four of their last five would be icing on the top of their WAC cake.
Strike THREE: There's Still an Outside Chance
There's still an outside chance that both Oregon and Auburn could lose, allowing Boise State to slide up into the second spot in the BCS, behind TCU, and into the National Championship game.
It's a long-shot, but stranger things have happened. And there are those that argue, if this truly is meant to be for the Broncos, than it will happen.
You just never would have guessed that if it did, it would be Boise against TCU.
Strike FOUR: Coach Pete's Historic Start
Joe Paterno lost five games during his first season at Penn State, and it took until his third season in Happy Valley to assemble an undefeated squad.
In Chris Petersen's first five SEASONS, he's yet to lose five games (57-4), and he has three undefeated regular seasons, two undefeated campaigns including bowl results, and has put together winning streaks of 14, nine, 12, and 22.
Add in to the hat that he has only lost consecutive games once, and to make that a true statement you have to include Boise's 2007 bowl loss to East Carolina, and I would say that there are few coaches who are better than Coach Pete.
He's put together so many amazing teams with the rejects from other schools, turning one- and two-star players into four- and five-stars by the time they graduate. How many stars has Coach Pete had that started their careers as walk-ons.
He's the only two-time winner of the Bear Bryant Award, honoring the best head coach in the nation, and he was twice nominated for the Broyles Award, given to the best assistant coach, during his time as Boise's offensive-coordinator.
If he can guide the Broncos to their third consecutive undefeated regular season, and their second in a row plus the bowls, he would have a career record of 62-4, leaving the WAC with a 39-1 record.
Yeah, Coach Pete gets a decent amount of publicity, but no one, not even any other small-program coach has put together the kind of run he has going at Boise.
And it doesn't look like he's leaving anytime soon.
Strike FIVE: Kirk Herbstreit Has a Point...for Once.
ESPN's golden-boy made one heck of a point on Sunday night's BCS broadcast special.
What makes everyone think that this year's version of TCU is any better than last year's version, that lost to Boise State?
Almost everyone seems to agree that 2010 Boise is better than last year's version. They're outscoring opponents by a greater margin, racking up even more yards, and have a more impressive defensive unit.
TCU, statistically, is also better than last year's unit, but haven't made anywhere near the gains as Boise has against last year's numbers.
So why does 2011 TCU get all the love?