Boise State living with different criteria than elite programs

Posted: 09/07/2010 in college football
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The opening week of the college football season is over and done with and the big news is that Boise State will get to continue its season.

Seems like a lot of people – and some major-college coaches – were hoping Boise State would lose to Virginia Tech on Monday night, essentially ending the Broncos’ title aspirations before many teams in the country (that includes you, Mississippi) notched their first victories.

But a dramatic 33-30 victory over Virginia Tech in hostile conditions in not-so-neutral FedEx Field in Landover, Md., keeps Boise State on the short list of national title contenders. Kellen Moore tossed the game-winning 13-yard touchdown pass to NFL-caliber receiver Austin Pettis with 1:09 left.

Boise State remained third in the Associated Press poll and moved up from fifth to third in the coaches’ poll. While Boise State received eight first-place votes from the writers – No. 2 Ohio State only got four – there wasn’t a single coach who voted the Broncos No. 1.

I realize some coaches don’t fill out their own ballots – a major flaw in the poll being used in the BCS rankings – and that defending national champion Alabama is loaded again but you would have thought maybe one or two coaches might have thrown a No. 1 vote in Boise State’s direction.

The debate will rage on about the Broncos’ soft schedule – rightfully so – and there’s a lot of football to be played but Boise State and fellow BCS buster candidate TCU (No. 4 AP; No. 5 coaches) are in great position after the opening week.

TCU defeated Oregon State on Saturday and that will give voters a direct comparison with Boise State as the season goes on since the Broncos also play the Beavers (Sept. 25 in Boise).

Beating Virginia Tech, which was ranked sixth in the AP preseason poll, would seemingly answer a lot of questions about Boise State but I noticed a few dissenting opinions in the online world on Monday.

Most perplexing was a Yahoo! Sports column insisting Boise State didn’t prove anything by beating the Hokies. The columnist stated that Boise State “needed a humiliation of Virginia Tech” to be taken seriously as a title contender.

By that odd logic, why is it OK for Alabama, Ohio State and Texas to squeak out wins over Top 10 teams? Or Top 25 teams? Or unranked conference foes, for that matter?

In fact, Alabama faces No. 18 Penn State this Saturday. Do the Crimson Tide need a “humiliation” of Penn State to remain No. 1? And No. 2 Ohio State meets No. 12 Miami. Do the Buckeyes need to humiliate the Hurricanes to keep that No. 2 ranking? Is it cool for Texas to squeak by current Top 10 conference mates Oklahoma and Nebraska in October or do the Longhorns have to “humiliate” both teams?

The answer is of course not on all counts. That would be a ridiculous requirement against stellar programs like Penn State, Miami, Oklahoma and Nebraska. It would be just as stupid as placing a condition on Boise State that it needed to humiliate a very solid Virginia Tech program that has won 10 or more games in seven straight seasons.

Until college football moves to scrap the bad BCS system and joins the modern world by conducting a playoff, then a Boise State sliding into the title game due to a schedule that pales against SEC powers is a very realistic possibility.

Remember, the BCS system is rigged against the little guys. Teams from non-power conferences have to go unbeaten to even have a chance while a one-loss SEC team has a 50-50 chance to play in the title game.

As for Boise State’s victory over Virginia Tech (the Broncos won without using any trick plays or gimmicks) the game drew a 6.8 overnight rating, just shy of ESPN’s record for a regular-season game (7.2 for USC-Ohio State in 2009). For comparison, ABC’s Saturday night primetime telecast of LSU vs. North Carolina was the weekend’s second most-watched telecast, drawing only a 2.8.

By that measure, it’s a good thing Boise State’s season didn’t become one-and-done. The Broncos’ quest to break down the BCS barrier is easily the most compelling story line of the college football season.

By far.

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