College Football 2011: Boise State and the 10 Most Under-Appreciated Teams

Brian LendinoCorrespondent IINovember 11, 2011

College Football 2011: Boise State and the 10 Most Under-Appreciated Teams

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    There are many different ways to attack the term "under-appreciated" and I think when talking about sports, all of them need to be considered.

    We debate thoroughly about the value of mid-major schools such as Boise State and Houston and how they fit on a national level, while at the same time we argue whether how high certain BCS schools deserve to be in national polls.

    It really can go either way.

    Fans could simply not be aware of how good a team truly is, making them underrated, which in my opinion goes along the same lines.

    There are so many aspects to the term under-appreciated that it becomes a hot bed for competitive debate.

    I'm excited to see responses to this slideshow, so feel free to leave a comment. So without further adieu, here are the 10 most under-appreciated teams in all of college football.

Georgia Bulldogs

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    The Georgia Bulldogs were very slow out of the gate in 2011 by dropping their opening two games to Boise State and South Carolina and at that point many people wrote the Bulldogs off. In fact, there were cries for head coach Mark Richt's job.

    Since starting 0-2 the Bulldogs have looked good, winning seven straight and climbing to No. 15 in the latest BCS poll.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    Well like I said earlier, they started the season 0-2 and the cries started to rain down. It looked like just another year for a Georgia team that had very high expectation.

    With the success of the SEC West and teams in that division dominating national polls no one seems to realize that Georgia has climbed back into the polls and is sitting at 7-2. It seems lately that is the norm within SEC football.

    The Bulldogs employ a dominant defense that is giving up under 20 points per game. On the other side of the ball, the offense seems to be coming around led by quarterback Aaron Murray and freshman phenom running back Isaiah Crowell.

    The Bulldogs have also climbed to the top of the SEC East standings and control their own destiny with two conference game remaining for a spot in the SEC championship game.

Houston Cougars

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    The Houston Cougars are off to their best start in school history and now sit at No. 11 in the BCS rankings with a 10-0 record.

    Week in and week out this team continues to handle its business against teams and have climbed to the top of almost every offensive statistical category.

    They are averaging 54.7 points per game and 455.7 yards per game through the air, led by the nation's all-time leading passer, Case Keenum.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    I was discussing this with a friend and we came to the conclusion that teams can be appreciated and recognized in the polls but not so much by college football fans. The aforementioned notion is recognized vice versa.

    Houston, to me, is a team that gets its recognition in the poll at 11, but on the national level doesn't have the following of a Boise State and certainly not the following of a BCS conference school.

    I don't think people give this offense its credit, when in the scheme of things, putting up 73 points on not one but TWO occasions is remarkable against any defense.

    Of course, we'll never really know until we see them against a higher caliber opponent but at this moment in time I'm confident enough in the ability of this offense to compete with most teams in the country.

Boise State Broncos

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    The Boise State Broncos are the perennial underdog in college football every single year and every year we don't see them fully get the respect they deserve.

    Kellen Moore is a legitimate Heisman Trophy contender and leads a Bronco offense that averages over 43 points per game. 

    The Broncos are ranked fifth in this week's edition of the BCS polls, so while I have a feeling this choice may come under some scrutiny, just hear me out. 

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    I strategically place Boise State after Houston because of the same outline I laid out for you regarding appreciation among fans and appreciation in polls.

    Throughout this entire season Boise State have been repeatedly disrespected by the polls, reaching no higher than fourth despite not losing AND watching teams ahead of them lose only to be replaced by teams ranked below the Broncos.

    Fans have grown to love the Broncos so I don't necessarily think that they aren't appreciated in that regard but what does this team need to do to receive some respect?

    I'm trying to limit credentials for this list solely to the 2011 season, but in Boise State's case there was no bigger disrespect than sending the then-11-1 Broncos to the MAACO Las Vegas Bowl.

Penn State Nittany Lions

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    I'm going to get grilled for this one. I don't care though because this team is under-appreciated for their play on the field.

    I'm well aware that there are very few remaining people who respect and appreciate what this program means in the national scheme of college football but I can't stress enough that the actions of a few individuals can't take away from the athletes who compete on the field.

    The Penn State Nittany Lions on the field are a good football team who fields an extremely impressive defense that only surrenders 12.4 points per game. Most people don't realize they have limited Alabama's offense to their second-lowest point total of the season—behind only LSU.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    Well for one, not many are going to inclined to tune into Penn State football simply because of the tragic scandal that surrounds the university. However, they play football, too.

    Penn State doesn't win defiantly and most see their wins as unimpressive but it's because they play a different brand of football. They beat you with defense, which naturally doesn't turn heads the way that an Oklahoma State does.

    They've risen to 12th in the latest BCS polls and face the meat of their schedule in the wake of arguably the worst scandal in sports history.

    We'll have to see how they face adversity and if they come out on top, respect these players amidst this storm of controversy.

Iowa Hawkeyes

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    The Iowa Hawkeyes experienced a rather disorderly offseason that actually started prior to their bowl game of the 2010 season.

    In a season where seldom expected the Hawkeyes to be competitive, they have a 6-3 record and are tied for second in the Big Ten Legends division with Nebraska (who the still have to play) and Michigan (who they've beaten).

    Quarterback James Vandenberg has made huge strides in becoming a reliable quarterback for head coach Kirk Ferentz and has risen all the way to conversations about being an all-Big Ten quarterback.

    They employ one of the toughest running backs in the country in Marcus Coker—a player who is the fifth highest rusher in the country with over 1,100 yards and 12 touchdowns.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    Inside the state of Iowa, football is everything. In fact, it's pretty much the only thing. But outside of the mid-west state not too many appreciate just how much Iowa football means to its faithful.

    The same can be said for most football programs but for Iowa, having to endure the off-the-field turmoil yet still coming out competing in an improved Big Ten, they've seemingly gone unnoticed.

    Annually it seems as if the Hawkeyes are rarely appreciated in the national spectrum but this year it's reaching down to the conference schedule on a game-by-game basis.

    They have a huge game against the Michigan State Spartans this weekend and a win in that would give the Hawkeyes a share of the Big Ten Legends lead as well as yield them some coverage on the national spectrum.

Northern Illinois Huskies

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    The Northern Illinois Huskies are 7-3 and lead the MAC with a 5-1 conference record, after starting the season off by dropping three of their first five games.

    Since then they've reeled off five straight victories and haven't scored under 30 points in each of their five consecutive wins.

    They also possess one of the best dual-threat quarterbacks in the country and I'm almost certain you can't give me his name without looking it up.

    I'll help you out. Chandler Harnish.

    On the season Harnish is both the leading rusher and passer for his team with 2,256 yards passing, 1,022 yards rushing and 29 total touchdowns.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    Simply put, no one knows who they are and Chandler Harnish would be in the discussion for a Heisman Trophy had it not be for the slow start of this team. 

    They are the ninth-best scoring team in the country at 41.6 points per game.

    Most will argue that these stats are padded by the weakness of their conference and while that argument carries some water, they play in the MAC West division where all but one team has a record above .500.

    If you watched their nationally televised game against Toledo, and again against Bowling Green, you know exactly what I'm talking about.

Missouri Tigers

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    The Missouri Tigers have felt the ill-effects of what losing a top-tier quarterback does for a program. Let's just say that 4-5 isn't quite where the Tigers expected to be at this point in the season.

    Now despite their poor record the Tigers play on the field doesn't tell the same story.

    Gary Pinkel and his Missouri Tigers are the 12th-best rushing offense in college football and also rank top 25 in scoring offense as well.

    A rough schedule tells the story for this Missouri Team—whose five losses have come against teams who've been ranked for the better part of the 2011 season.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    There is no denying that this team isn't appreciated on the national level and that shows in wake of its move from the Big 12 to the SEC.

    Many fans don't believe the Tigers are a team worthy of competing in the heralded SEC simply because they see a 4-5 record yet fail to look into just what this team can provide.

    The Tigers five losses have been at Arizona State, at Oklahoma, at Kansas State, at Baylor and home against the No. 2 team Oklahoma State. That is a schedule as tough as any in the country, so their record must be taken with a grain of salt.

    I consider this Missouri squad as the "best, worst team" in college football.

Virginia Tech Hokies

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    Virginia Tech has quietly moved to 9-1 after a 37-26 victory at Georgia Tech in an ACC Coastal showdown.

    The Hokies have risen to the 10th spot in the BCS polls behind the nation's leading rusher David Wilson who has 1,300 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.

    Coach Frank Beamer has commanded the Hokies 10th ranked defense to be one of the most aggressive units in the nation.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    In discussions about teams from the ACC you always hear Clemson first and rarely does Virginia Tech get thrown into the mix.

    Clemson beat the Hokies earlier this season, but I would still be inclined to say that Virginia Tech is the better team based upon Virginia Tech's defense and the fact they caught Clemson when they were in full stride. 

    Despite their high ranking Virginia Tech doesn't get talked about as a good enough of a team in the national conversation either.

Cincinnati Bearcats

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    The Cincinnati Bearcats bring an extremely balanced offense as well as an impressive defense that ranks in the top 20 in both of their respective scoring categories.

    They employ a senior quarterback that can command an offense as good as anyone in the country in Zach Collaros and have punched the ball in 22 times on the ground as a team.

    We'll see just how good the Bearcats are this weekend as they throw down with the West Virginia Mountaineers and look at move to 8-1 and take a commanding 4-0 conference record into the final three games of the season.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    To put it lightly, the Big East is not very good and all teams associated with said conference don't get a whole lot of respect on the national spectrum.

    The Bearcats are 7-1 this season and credit must be given where credit is due despite conference affiliation.

    If they are able to slow down West Virginia's high-powered offense and beat the Mountaineers this weekend, I'm confident in saying people still won't be giving the Bearcats the respect they deserve.

    And that's why they're under-appreciated.

LSU Tigers

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    I can't wait for the response I'm going to yield after this one but the LSU Tigers are truly one of the most under-appreciated football teams in America.

    LSU is the No. 1 ranked team in the country and fields the second-ranked defense in the country.

    Head coach Les Miles is one of the best game-planners in college football and has had his team prepared for what has turned out to be the toughest schedule in America.

    We're all well aware of who LSU is.

     

    Why they're under-appreciated:

    How is it possible that the No. 1 team in the nation can be under-appreciated?

    Well, despite being the top-ranked team they still have more nay-sayers than I've seen a top team have in recent seasons.

    Most people aren't believers in their offense and continually question not only Jarrett Lee but Jordan Jefferson as well. I've heard many question whether or not the offense can win a national championship.

    After the Tigers' win against Oregon, many people still thought the Ducks to be the better team. I would argue the same for after their overtime victory over Alabama.

    No one denies how good LSU is this season, but they're under-appreciated for the fact that people refuse to believe how good they actually are.