The Boise State Broncos have the nations longest win streak (22 games). They have won 34 of their last 35 games. Boise State has won two BCS bowl games in the last four years. Some one in Boise must be wondering why are the Broncos falling each week in the BCS standings? Especially to when the teams they are losing ground to are Oregon, TCU, and Auburn.
First, let’s look at TCU. What we are witnessing this year is a repeat of 2009. Going into 2009 everyone knew that TCU was going to be pretty good, and the odds of the Horned Frogs going undefeated were pretty good.
TCU had a fairly unimpressive start to the season, but they were winning each week. They outscored their first five opponents by an average of 31.8-15.2 (throw out a 56-21 win over Texas State and that differential drops to 25.75-13.75). Not bad, but not world beaters either.
After game five, TCU shifted to a new gear. They won their next seven games by an average score of 47-10.4. We heard the jokes, “Texas is the second best team in the state,” and many credible individuals in the media thought TCU deserved to be in the BCS national championship game. They landed in the Fiesta Bowl, instead, against Boise State. We all remember the result. Boise State shut down the vaunted TCU offense. They intercepted Andy Dalton three times on their way to a 17-10 win.
After that game, TCU lost Jerry Hughes and Daryl Washington to the NFL and a handful of other starters to graduation. All Boise State lost was Kyle Wilson.
The 2010 season has gone much the same way. TCU won their first four games by an average score of 44.5-15.5 (throw out a 62-7 win over Tennessee Tech, and that average score drops to 38.7-18.3). From game four through game 10, TCU has outscored opponents by an average of 39.3-3.8.
TCU was ranked below Boise State for the first several weeks of the season. A sign of the fact that Boise State did beat TCU at the end of 2009 and that Boise State returned more players from last year’s team. Now, TCU has moved ahead of Boise State in the human polls and the BCS standings. WAKE UP EVERYONE! Didn’t you learn your lesson last year? Why are you all discounting Boise State? What has changed?
TCU has the same resume this year as last year. In 2009, they beat a good, ranked BYU team, and a good, ranked Utah team, plus ACC contender Clemson. In 2010, they beat a good, ranked Oregon State team (the good part is debatable at this point), they beat a good, ranked Utah team, plus Big XII contender Baylor. No one doubted that TCU would win head-to-head against Boise State, in 2009. Surprise! We were all wrong. Again I ask, what has changed? Nothing.
There is no reason why TCU should be ahead of Boise State.
Second, the Oregon Ducks have been very impressive this year, there is no denying that. In fact, the Ducks were quite impressive in 2009 and 2008, with back-to-back 10 win seasons, a win in Big Ten country, and it was Oregon that dethroned USC in the Pac-10. All the success up there in Eugene has helped the Ducks mask the one glaring negative of the past two years: back-to-back losses to Boise State.
The Broncos went into hostile Autzen Stadium in 2008 with a freshman quarterback. After three quarters of play, Boise State held a commanding 37-13 lead. Boise State won that game, and the game played the next year. For those who don’t remember, in that 2009 game, Oregon had 14 yards total offense in the first half, zero first downs, and zero points. The Ducks managed 152 total yards for the game, 6 first downs, and 1-10 on third down conversions. Boise State dominated the time of possession as well, 42:32 to 17:28.
This takes us to a catch 22 situation. The Duck and anti-Boise State contingents are sure to be shaking their heads saying, “but that was last year.” You are right. We are not supposed to penalize any team this year for what happened last year. If Michigan was 9-0 at this point, they would be in the top 5 as well, even though they finished 2009 losing seven of their last eight games. However, there is no denying that history does play a factor in the human and computer rankings. Why is the SEC considered the best conference in the land? History says so. Why are certain conferences AQ conferences and other conferences are not? History. Why are the same teams predicted to win their conferences every year? Historically they win the conference most of the time.
With the system that we have now, we must lean on history to split hairs. How do we not give Boise State the benefit of the doubt in comparison to Oregon? Boise State is 2-0 against the Ducks the last two years. I could understand if these two games were 10 or even five years ago, but we are talking about the immediate past. Oregon even had revenge to motivate them against Boise State last year. Plus, Oregon hasn’t shown that they are that invincible. Oregon lost the Rose Bowl last year to an Ohio State team that was perceived to be inferior and was strongly criticized most of the year. This year the Duck defense is suspect.
Third, the Auburn Tigers and Boise State Broncos don’t have any history together. What we do know is that the defense needs help. Just last week, Chattanooga scored 24. Arkansas State put up 26 in week one. That's not really a sign of progress on D. Who can forget the 43 points allowed to Arkansas? The Tigers were pushed by Kentucky because the defense couldn’t stop the Wildcats.
The case for Boise State
In any argument, it is always easy to poke holes in the opponent’s claims, but if you expect to win, you need some substance of your own. Boise State has it.
I just attacked the Auburn defense, well Boise State has defense. The Bronco’s just throttled the potent Hawaii attack. Hawaii quarterback Bryant Moniz only passed for 127 yards. Moniz leads the nation in passing yards, in spite of this low output, by 400 yards. Just two weeks ago, Hawaii rolled up 614 yards total offense. Boise State limited them to 154. This was a 7-2 Hawaii team. We aren’t talking about San Jose State. The Warriors gave USC trouble, and they are the only team to beat Nevada. The Boise State defense in legit.
On second thought, let’s talk about San Jose State. The Spartans took to the road to start the year to play the Alabama Crimson Tide. To no one’s surprise, Alabama proceeded to thump San Jose State 48-3. Fast forward six weeks when the Spartans welcomed Boise State to town. The Broncos won that contest 48-0.
Up until Alabama lost to LSU this weekend, the expert consensus was that even with one loss Alabama controlled it own destiny. If the Crimson Tide would win the rest of their games they would play for the national championship. For all that superior SEC speed, strength, and talent, shouldn’t Alabama have beaten San Jose State by a wider margin at home than Boise State did on the road? Boise State's win over San Jose State trumps Alabama's.
I know we are talking about a 45 point win versus a 48 point win where the only difference in score was a field goal by the other team, but again, with this system that we have in place, these are the questions we have to ask, and the best measuring stick that we have to use.
While we are comparing wins, Nebraska beat Idaho 38-17 at home. Boise State goes to Idaho this Friday. No one would have any qualms about a 12-1 Nebraska team in the national championship game if Oregon and Auburn lose. What are the odds that Boise State wins by more than 21? Holds Idaho to less than 17?
As for offense, the Broncos can gallop as fast as the Ducks can fly. Oregon averages the most yards per game (567.2) and Boise State averages the fourth most (543.5). Oregon is first in points per game (54.7) and Boise State is third (46.3).
The Boise State win that means the most is still the opening day win against Virginia Tech in the Hokies’ backyard. Sure we all wrote off VT after they lost to James Madison, but Virginia Tech is now 7-2, and ranked number 20 in the BCS standings. What if Virginia Tech wins out and is 11-2, wins the ACC, and plays in a BCS bowl of their own? They will be ranked somewhere between 10 and 15 at that point. More importantly, what other team in a BCS bowl will be able to say they beat the conference champion from an AQ conference? None.
Auburn, Oregon, and TCU are all very good football teams, but they don’t have a stronger case to play in the BCS national championship game than Boise State. Which is why instead of seeing BC$ green, Boise State has the BCS blues.
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