Boise State Football: Could the Broncos Handle Playing in a BCS Conference?

Danny Flynn@FlynnceptionSenior Analyst ISeptember 5, 2011

Even though they keep beating BCS teams, there are still many people who believe Boise State couldn't do it on a weekly basis
Even though they keep beating BCS teams, there are still many people who believe Boise State couldn't do it on a weekly basisKevin C. Cox/Getty Images

On Saturday night, the Boise State Broncos once again quieted their critics and naysayers by beating the Georgia Bulldogs 35-21 right in their own backyard at the Georgia Dome in Atlanta.

Georgia is the third straight big boy BCS team that has felt the wrath of the Boise blue machine in a season opener.

They join Virginia Tech and Oregon as BCS teams that became just another statement on Boise State’s increasingly impressive resume.

With the win, QB Kellen Moore is now 39-2 as a starter, and Moore, along with coach Chris Petersen, has led a revival of the Boise State program that has seen the team reach the national stage in recent years.

All of the success and high rankings have caused quite a debate as to whether or not the blue turf smurfs actually belong among college football’s elite.

Boise’s doubters have argued that you shouldn’t be able to beat one good team early and then coast trough the rest of your schedule and still expect to get an invite from the BCS at the end of the season.

SEC fans have been the most ardent critics of Boise State’s recent success, claiming that there’s no way the Broncos could survive unscathed if they had to go up against the likes of Alabama, LSU and Florida week in and week out.

Those same SEC fans look a little foolish now, considering the Broncos just got finished embarrassing Georgia, a squad that was led by the supposed best quarterback the conference had to offer, Aaron Murray, and a team that expects to compete for an SEC East title this season.

They may actually have a valid point, though.

It's fair to wonder how much Boise State has benefited from playing less-than-demanding teams recently.

Before their next big showcase match up against TCU on Nov. 12, Boise does actually have to face five teams that went to bowl games last year—Nevada, Fresno State, Toledo, Tulsa and Air Force—but none of those five could really be considered high-profile opponents.

Considering their willingness to schedule big BCS teams on a yearly basis, you can’t fault the Broncos for their schedule. They even went out and made the move up to the more respected Mountain West Conference to gain some more credibility, but that move seemed to backfire as the conference just lost two if its three big powers, BYU and Utah, and is about to lose its third, TCU, to the Big East after the conclusion of the season.

After this year, the Broncos will once again be stuck as the big fish in a small pond.

Still, you have to respect the level that coach Petersen has raised his program to.

The Broncos are now unfairly typecast as the little team that's doing it with 1- and 2-star recruits, and that’s simply not the case.

Boise State may not be reeling in the 5-star studs that the USCs and Alabamas of the world are getting, but they’ve managed to make recruiting inroads in California and all along the West Coast and they're using their newfound national notoriety to convince kids with offers from BCS schools to come play up in Idaho.

They’re coaching up those less touted recruits and producing NFL players on a regular basis.

Since 2006, Boise has had 11 players drafted, five of whom were selected in the first or second round, and the Broncos are once again loaded with pro prospects this year with the likes of DT Billy Winn, OT Nate Potter and S George Iloka.

Yes, you can poke fun at their schedule all you want, but you certainly can’t say that Boise State doesn’t have the talent to compete with BCS teams on a regular basis.

I’ve always thought the "Could Boise State play in the SEC?" debate was rather inconsequential, because based off of geography, style of play and the types of recruits they bring in, if the Broncos were to ever join a BCS conference, the best fit would obviously be the Pac-12.

If Boise State joined the Pac-12 today, they would be the third-best team behind Stanford and Oregon, and you could make the case that they could give both of those schools a run for their money.

In college football right now, it’s about the coaching staff and the culture they establish.

That’s why a program like Miami is a complete mess right now and it’s why you’ve seen programs like Stanford, Oregon and TCU all rise up in recent years.

Those three schools put great coaches in place and they established a winning culture for their team.

Chris Petersen has done the same thing at Boise State.

Boise State is now a dominant force and the Broncos have proved that they can certainly handle playing elite competition.

Would Boise State go undefeated if they played in a BCS conference?

Probably not, but how many BCS teams do go undefeated every year?

One or two, and very rarely, sometimes three.

The two top-ranked teams in the country, Alabama and Oklahoma, combined for five losses last season.

It’s sad to say but the fact is that unless there’s some drastic format change in college football some time soon, we won’t get the opportunity to see if Boise State can handle playing in a "real" conference, because that Idaho TV market just isn’t very appealing to the BCS brass.

We can keep arguing about whether or not Boise State could handle a BCS schedule, and while we’re wasting our time doing that, Chris Petersen’s team is going to keep on piling up wins and sticking it to as many BCS teams as they can.

Yes, the Broncos may only have one or two big wins on their resume every year, but let’s give them a little credit for going out there and seeking those big wins.

Boise State could have padded its schedule with a world-beater like Kent State, Utah State, Missouri State, Memphis, East Carolina, Florida Atlantic, Montana, Western Kentucky or Elon this weekend, but the SEC teams beat them to the punch.

So they settled on Georgia, and decided to make an example out of them.

I'm not so sure if we should criticize the Broncos because they know that their schedule is perceived as weak, so they try to strengthen it the best that they can.

Maybe instead we should take a look at some of these holier-than-thou SEC teams and chastise them for digging at the bottom of the barrel to fill out their non-conference schedule.

Just a thought.


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