Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Boise State Broncos: How to Guarantee A Spot in the BCS Title Game

Dear Boise State Broncos,

Congratulations on a 3-0 start that includes wins over your two toughest opponents. As a college football fan for over two decades, I am aware of your plight to play for a national championship. Boise State is a small school with much less tradition, fans, and money. You have to fight for the more established members of college football to recognize and validate you. After a great 2009 season that saw you post a perfect 14-0 record and win your second BCS bowl game, you came into 2010 with faint hopes that another perfect season would land you in the BCS National Championship game. With 20 out of 22 starters back from last year, anything less than an undefeated season will be a disappointment.

This year started just as planned. You beat the Virginia Tech Hokies on national television in a hostile environment. Problems started in week two. Virginia Tech lost to a FCS opponent. Now the Hokies don't appear to be the juggernaut so many thought they would be. Poof, that loss by Virginia Tech cost you seven first place votes in the AP poll. Oregon State came to town, and you comfortably won that game. Rather than sing your praises for beating another quality team that figured to contend for an automatic bid in a BCS game, the pundits are downgrading the Beavers. (Never mind that they have played two top 5 teams closer than anyone expected.)

That brings me to the purpose of my letter. I know Virginia Tech's loss and the pessimism about Oregon State are a blow to your cause, but don't despair. I have the formula that will guarantee you a spot in the game January 10, in Glendale.

This year you have some unexpected allies: your conference members. Normally, playing them hurts you more than it helps; this year is different. In fact, even your future Mountain West Conference member Wyoming gives you a boost. WAC teams have played many of the teams you are going to be competing with for one of those two BCS National Championship game spots. As an added bonus, your WAC counterparts have fared reasonably well. The BCS system puts an emphasis on two things: winning games and winning with style. What you need to do is win with more style than those other teams did. Here are the key games:

Wyoming, September 18
One week before (September 11) the Wyoming Cowboys went to Austin, Texas and lost to the Longhorns 34-7. Texas was ranked number 5 at the time and they could be the Big XII champion at the end of the year. The Big XII champion has played in the national title game the last two years. Therefore, you needed to beat Wyoming worse than Texas did, and you did, 51-6. If Texas finishes the year 12-1, your 45 point win over the Cowboys should give you the edge over Texas.

San Jose State, October 16
The San Jose State Spartans did you a double favor. They played number 1 Alabama the opening week (lost 48-3) and number 9 Wisconsin the following week (lost 28-14). Alabama is the favorite to win the SEC, and we all know that the SEC champion has won the last four national championships. The Crimson Tide set a pretty high standard with the 48-3 victory, but it is not unreasonable. You beat SJSU 45-7 last year. You will play the Spartans in San Jose as well. A more stylish road win against San Jose State should help your case. Wisconsin probably won't win the Big Ten, but if they do voters and computers should give you preference if you have a better win against SJSU than the Badgers did.

Hawaii, November 6
The Hawaii Warriors pushed USC in an opening day 49-36 loss. While Oregon and Stanford are getting the attention in the Pac-10 right now, USC is still undefeated. Make sure you beat Hawaii by a minimum of 14 points, but I would recommend you double that to 28.

Idaho, November 12
The most impressive team in the Big XII this year has been number 6 Nebraska. Winning the Big XII championship and finishing undefeated appears a distinct possibility. The Cornhuskers played Idaho on September 11 and won 38-17. A 21-point win. Improving on that seems reasonable. You did beat the Vandals 63-25 last year, which was Idaho's best team since the state's first potato crop.

Nevada, November 26
Worst case scenario, Nevada will be 9-2 when this game is played. The Wolf Pack made waves September 18 when they beat the Cal Bears 52-31. Cal doesn't figure to be a player in the Pac-10 race (although don't rule out a rivalry upset over Stanford), but with this win on their resume and currently a top 25 team, a win over Nevada could count as another quality win.

Utah State, December 4
The Utah State Aggies went into Norman, Oklahoma on September 4, and almost came out winners. The Sooners claimed a narrow 31-24 victory. This is where you can pick up a lot of ground, Broncos. A 30+ point win over Utah State will easily get you the nod over Oklahoma if they are the Big XII champs.

There you have it. Of course, you will want to win all your games by a minimum of two touchdowns, but these five games that you still have to play are the most important ones on your schedule. Win with more style in these games and your spot in the BCS National Championship game is secure.

See you in Glendale.

If you missed College Football Haven's Top 25 this week, click here.
If you missed Monday Musings this week, click here.
If you missed College Football Haven's Heisman Hopefuls this week, click here.
If you missed this week's trivia question, click here.

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