Top 2013 College Football Games That Can Bust Up the BCS
Boise State, TCU and Utah have found themselves in two BCS games each during the current BCS era in college football.
Each time, they did so as "BCS-busters", or a team outside of the BCS automatic qualifying conferences that earns a trip to a BCS game.
Since it became easier for team outside the BCS conference to make one these games in 2004, there have been eight BCS-busters in the postseason where they have gone a combined 5-3.
It has become a regular occurrence for one of these "underdogs" to crash the party. This season should not be expected to be any different.
There are several candidates to crash the BCS party in 2013, from Northern Illinois all the way to Utah State.
Here is a list of the games that could potentially have the biggest impact on the postseason as it's related to BCS-busters.
8. Boise State at BYU: Friday, Oct. 25
Northern Illinois was the most recent BCS-buster, falling to Florida State last year in the Orange Bowl.
While Boise State has been there, Utah and TCU were BCS-busters before they moved to BCS conferences. Even Hawai'i made it to a BCS game.
So what the heck is wrong with BYU? The program that at one time was winning national championships has not even come close to sniffing a BCS appearance.
This might be the year.
The Cougars have a brutal schedule which includes a trip to Notre Dame, a home test against Texas and a trip to Wisconsin.
As far-fetched as it appears at first glance, each one of those games appears to be very winnable for the Cougars.
Their game against Boise State right in the middle of the season could help cement the Broncos as a viable BCS-buster if they can get through the first seven games of the season with only a single loss.
If they make it into this contest at 7-1, it would mean at least three victories over BCS conference opponents with the toughest part of the schedule yet to come.
If Boise State wins, it could be one of only a few chances for the Broncos to beat a ranked opponent.
Either way, barring major injury or a major collapse, this game will have postseason implications.
7. Utah State at San Jose State: Friday, Sept. 27
Last season, Wisconsin and Stanford faced each other at season's end in the Rose Bowl.
Earlier in the year, Wisconsin had beaten Utah State when the Aggies missed a field goal while trailing by two points late in the game.
In Week 1, Stanford had squeaked by San Jose State, 20-17.
This year, Utah State returns quarterback Chuckie Keeton along with 11 other juniors in its two-deep depth chart.
The Aggies, who return eight starters on offense and seven on defense, are coming off of an 11-2 season.
The Aggies face Utah and USC on the road in non-conference play. A split is likely with those two opponents.
However, a one loss season would be enough to get Utah State into the BCS.
San Jose State will be looking to hand Keeton's squad it's second loss of the season.
Spartans quarterback David Fales finished last season with the best completion percentage in college football. San Jose State has to face Stanford again early this season and will not beat a tough Cardinal team.
Other than that, the rest of their games are contests that the Spartans have a legitimate chance to win. Their meeting against Utah State and season finale against Fresno State will be the toughest two games remaining on the schedule.
The winner of this game will have an excellent shot at crashing the BCS party.
6. Boise State at Fresno State: Friday, Sept. 20
If Boise State is going to make a last-ditch effort to make a final appearance in the BCS, this game is a must-win.
Fresno State, led by quarterback Derek Carr, has tremendous talent and the potential to crash the BCS party if it can win this showdown.
The Bulldogs, who will host BSU, could be the favorite in every game they play in 2013.
The Broncos have their work cut out for them if they want to reach the BCS, facing Fresno State, Utah State and BYU—all opponents with BCS party-crashing aspirations of their own. It will be key for the Broncos to pull out this win in order to remain within striking distance of the upper half of the BCS rankings.
As for Fresno State, it's going to be a long, hard road, and in order to reach a BCS game, the Broncos will have to be undefeated and win big when possible.
Defending home turf will be key in this one.
5. Texas at BYU: Sept. 7
BYU, as mentioned, has a tough row to hoe in order to reach a BCS game.
Virginia, Wisconsin, Notre Dame and Boise State are a few of the challenges standing in the way of Bronco Mendenhall and his team.
But the toughest opponent the Cougars will face is Texas, in Week 2. The Longhorns are back this year with a stout defense, a serviceable offense and the need to win or see head coach Mack Brown on the hot seat.
This contest will be interesting, as these two match up well with each other and will still be adjusting early in the season.
A win by BYU would serve notice that it is prepared for a run at the BCS this season.
4. Rutgers at Fresno State: Thursday, Aug. 29
The first night of the college football season will provide a huge opportunity for Fresno State.
Rutgers will travel across the country to face the Bulldogs and quarterback Derek Carr, who threw for over 4,100 yards last season and tossed 37 touchdown passes.
Rutgers will be a solid, though not elite, squad. The Scarlet Knights return 10 starters and will be competitive in the American Athletic Conference.
This game will be viewed by football fans all over the country, as it is being broadcast on ESPNU and ESPN3.com. It will provide not only an opportunity for Carr to kick off his Heisman Trophy campaign, but also for the Bulldogs to make a statement.
3. Marshall at Virginia Tech: Sept. 21
Virginia Tech is in for a tough non-conference slate.
The Hokies open the season against Alabama in a game that looks like it is going to get ugly.
However, the Crimson Tide are not the only difficult test that head coach Frank Beamer's team must face in non-conference play this season.
Quarterback Rakeem Cato and Marshall are coming to town, and the Hokies had better be prepared.
Cato is the most underrated quarterback in college football, strictly because he plays for Marshall. He finished last season with 4,201 passing yards, 37 touchdowns and 11 interceptions, as a sophomore.
The Thundering Herd are going to be a solid squad this season. With 15 starters returning, it is not too much of a stretch to imagine them breaking into the BCS.
A win over Virginia Tech would go a long way toward proving their ability to do so.
2. BYU at Notre Dame: Nov. 23
BYU faces Notre Dame near the end of the season and there could be some major BCS implications riding on the line for both teams.
Despite of the departure of quarterback Everett Golson, Notre Dame is going to be solid once again.
Stephon Tuitt, Louis Nix and Prince Shembo will all be major contributors on a defense that might be just short of elite while quarterback Tommy Rees is experienced, if not as dynamic as Golson.
BYU could be entering this game with multiple wins over ranked teams and they will be out for revenge after a tough loss to the Irish last season.
If BYU can stay healthy, look for them to make a jump to near the top of the college football rankings in 2013.
This game will be a key statement game in the Cougars' quest to break into the BCS.
1. Northern Illinois vs. Big Ten
Northern Illinois will be seeking to become one of the few teams from a non-BCS conference to reach a BCS bowl twice.
Utah, Boise State and TCU have all done so and the return of quarterback Jordan Lynch to NIU makes the Huskies an instant possibility to jump into those ranks.
To some, this may seem ridiculous, as the Huskies were crushed, 31-10, by Florida State in last season's Orange Bowl.
That said, the Huskies return eights starters on offense, including Lynch, who put up 4,953 total yards last season, scored 44 total touchdowns and only threw eight interceptions.
Their schedule is laughably easy. The two toughest challenges on Northern Illinois' schedule will be their early-season meetings with big Ten opponents Purdue and Iowa.
Iowa handed them the Huskies their only loss of the regular season in 2012, an 18-17 squeaker in Week 1. Both Iowa and Purdue are going to struggle this season with questions at quarterback and holes on defense.
Don't be surprised when the Huskies emerge from their non-conference play unscathed and run the table.