The Boise State Broncos are going into what is their version of the national title game on Saturday against the Georgia Bulldogs. They are going to treat their date with the 19th-ranked Bulldogs from the SEC as such a big game because their strength of schedule in 2011 isn't good enough for them to be in the BCS National Championship conversation, despite how badly they will beat up on opponents.
Led again by Heisman-candidate QB Kellen Moore, the Broncos will face their biggest test to date in head coach Chris Petersen's tenure with the Smurfs playing an SEC team. Year in and year out, a representative from the SEC is seemingly always in the BCS title game, and even though Georgia isn't among the favorites to win the SEC, any team from there is a challenge for out-of-conference opponents.
Not to mention the game will be in the Georgia Dome—basically the Bulldogs' backyard and hardly a "neutral" field.
Coming into the game the Georgia Bulldogs aren't among the few teams bidding for an SEC title, and the game may not mean as much to them as it does for Boise State, but it will mean something if they want to have any momentum going into their Week 2 battle against South Carolina.
On the other side, Boise State cannot afford to lose this game, as if it does, any chances of returning to a BCS bowl game are all but gone.
Now to the game itself. It is pretty obvious that the Georgia offense is inferior to that of Boise State and the powerhouse offense led by Moore, who threw for 3,845 yards and 34 TDs in 2010, combined with running back Doug Martin's 1,260 yards on the ground and 12 TDs. Moore will be without stud receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis this season, but that shouldn't lessen his performances.
Let's not degrade the defense of Georgia, however, which does have the potential to keep this game from being the blowout some are predicting it to be.
The Bulldogs have junior LB Christian Robinson, who put up solid numbers in 2010—40 tackles and two sacks—and will come into the middle linebacker spot. In addition to Robinson, the 'Dawgs have a flurry of 4- and 5-star recruits looking to prove themselves in 2011. The Bulldogs should be able to take advantage of the weak right side of the Broncos' offensive line to try and hurry Moore in his throws.
In addition to the Bulldogs' underrated defense, CB Brandon Boykin may be able to tear the field up on special teams as a returner due to Boise State's inexperience on special teams and kicking in 2011.
On the offensive side of the ball, Georgia QB Aaron Murray will be well protected from a very good Boise defensive line by big, strong O-linemen who should allow Murray some more time in the pocket. Murray has the potential to be a very good QB in the nation, and to win this game would be huge for him in his career.
Now none of this is to say the Broncos aren't going to win the game, but they won't be winning by 30 points and shouldn't be as heavily favored as they are. The Broncos are very good, and if they don't win this game that could be the end of them.
If the Bulldogs lose, they still control their own destiny based on their strength of schedule alone. The Broncos will want to go into this game and finish with a blowout to keep themselves in the top five in the nation, but don't place money on it that they will win by that much.