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Wednesday, November 2, 2011

Boise State: FTW or FML?

Boise State has once again found themselves in the enviable position of being a BCS-buster and "Top 5" College Football program. Okay, so the second part of that statement is a stretch, but they do find a way to get this little school from the Gem State into major media outlets each Autumn. And barring any unforeseen upsets, they will once again crack the NCAA Football elitist train wreck known as the BCS this January.

I'm going to assume you know enough about Boise State to know that their field is blue, they like to run trick plays, and none of the major contenders want to play them. But let's talk about how the Broncos could maybe possibly get to the apex that has eluded them for the past ten-plus years of dominating the Pacific Northwest in college football.

First (and most obvious) is that they need to finish the season undefeated, and without any "close-calls". The strength of schedule isn't there, and they know it. But it's not like they aren't trying. They can't even get top programs from major conferences to invite Boise State into their own home stadiums.

So obviously, the Broncos need some help. As it stands, the BCS looks roughly like this (with some slight rounding), with a 1.0 as a perfect score:

  1. LSU - .97
  2. Alabama - .96
  3. Oklahoma St. - .93
  4. Stanford - .86
  5. Boise State - .85
  6. Oklahoma - .77
  7. Arkansas - .70
  8. Oregon - .69
The teams above them are all undefeated, and no matter how exceptionally well Boise plays and wins, they will not jump any of those 4 schools if they remain undefeated. The 3 schools below only have 1 loss and are in clear striking distance of the Broncos. If any of those 3 wins their remaining games, expect that (those?) school(s) to jump the guys at #5.

Luckily, LSU plays Alabama in about 72 hours. Unluckily, almost everyone considers these 2 schools are clearly the top of this year's NCAA Football talent pool. So unless once school completely destroys the other, don't be surprised if Boise is still behind the loser when the new ratings come out on Sunday.

Alabama's remaining schedule is fairly easy, though nothing can be taken for granted in the SEC. And of course, they close out against rival Auburn (on the road this year) in the Iron Bowl. LSU has a similar remaining path with some "easy" games before taking on Arkansas for the Golden Boot on the day after Thanksgiving. This year it's a home game for the Tigers from Louisiana State.

So for argument's sake, let's say Alabama beats LSU, but then loses to Auburn (road games are hard). Meanwhile, LSU wins out, including the rivalry game over Arkansas. Alabama would go to the SEC title game because of the head-to-head victory over LSU with both having only one loss.

(Stay with me, cuz it's gonna get confusing.)

Alabama would face the SEC East winner. Right now, South Carolina leads that race. But if SC loses to Arkansas this week (and I think they will), that moves Georgia into the SEC East lead. And Boise already beat Georgia. So now Alabama plays Georgia and the Bulldogs pull off the victory. That effectively eliminates all the SEC teams from the top 8 except LSU (I just can't find a reasonable scenario where LSU doesn't finish near the top of the BCS, a la 2007.

Oklahoma State needs to either lose 2 games now and then knock off Oklahoma in the Battle of Bedlam, or win the next 3 and then simply get destroyed by the Sooners on December 3. If the latter, that means Oklahoma still needs to fall victim to Texas A&M this week (Baylor and Iowa State won't get it done).

Finally, Stanford almost did Boise a favor against USC this week in the triple-OT thriller at the Coliseum. Alas, the Cardinal now has to find a way to beat high-scoring Oregon on November 12 and then fall victim to Arizona State in the Pac-12 Championship.

If all those things happen, that puts Boise State up against LSU in the BCS National Championship on January 9 in...........New Orleans.......90 minutes from LSU's main campus. #Fail

In summation, the Broncos can only pull this off if the BCS rankings give the title game to a non-Champion from the SEC and a "BCS-buster". It could happen, right? To be fair, the last time I went through and tried to figure out how an underdog from a weak conference could make it to the title game was Hawaii in 2007. They didn't have quite the same talent across the board or respect as Boise State, but they earned a BCS nonetheless (and were embarrassed by Georgia of the SEC in the same Super Dome for the Sugar Bowl).

Sorry Boise State Broncos. Sorry Idaho. Sorry Kellen Moore. Good luck with that Heisman competition.
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