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P.S.R. Op-Ed

Boise State’s Bye Week Woes

It seems like long ago, but Boise's win came only last Monday.

Boise State hasn’t suited up since last Monday, when it knocked off then-No. 10 Virginia Tech. Imagine how Boise felt on Tuesday morning, knowing it had nearly two weeks off before taking on Wyoming on Sept. 18? Must have been nice, right? Little did Boise know: Virginia Tech had a surprise brewing, a loss that would invalidate the meaningful road win — yes, on a neutral field, but still — and validate the belief that the Broncos are pretenders, not contenders. Color me unconvinced on the latter: I still think the Broncos are a national title hopeful. However, it’s hard not to be at least somewhat disappointed in the recent turn of events, which has provided ammunition to Boise’s detractors.

Truthfully, no matter how we want to address it, Virginia Tech didn’t do Boise State any favors yesterday. The Hokies lost, 21-16, to James Madison — of the F.C.S. — in an ugly, sloppy game not indicative of Tech’s true ability.

And when the year comes to a close, I’m still certain that the Hokies will be where they always are: 9-10 wins, in the top third of the A.C.C. and in the mix for a B.C.S. bowl. After yesterday, however, if we didn’t have history as our guide, I don’t know if we could call Tech more than an athletic, woefully underachieving five-win team; that’s being kind, in fact.

Let me cover for the Hokies: it’s tough to make a quick turnaround. Boise, for instance, won’t play again until Saturday. Tech, on the other hand, played a nail-biter Monday night — leaving it only four days to prepare for J.M.U.’s unique offense. The Dukes run a read option out of the Pistol; not exactly unheard of, but not a scheme the Hokies see very often, if at all.

So what does this mean for Boise State? How does a Virginia Tech loss to an F.C.S. opponent derail the Broncos? Firstly, derail is a strong word: Boise just has to win out — that hasn’t changed. The negative side effect of Tech’s loss, however, is obvious. It belittles Boise’s resume-building win. It changes an impressive 1-0 into, well, just 1-0. To many, it’s a win that no longer has value.

And believe me, the big schools will play this card come November. Alabama’s Nick Saban said as much yesterday, before Tech even took the field: Boise’s schedule isn’t good, we play better teams each week. I can’t find fault with this logic, particularly when reputations are won and made on bowl success; no one wants to play Boise in a B.C.S. bowl, but even fewer want the Broncos to land a spot in the B.C.S. title game.

Boise State already knew this, but as a reminder: the B.C.S. conferences don’t play fair. You need to be perfect; not just 12-0, but every win has to have meaning, especially those against non-conference opposition. Unfortunately, it doesn’t look like Boise’s win over Virginia Tech still carries the weight it did a week ago — right now.

Don’t bank on the win over Virginia Tech remaining commonplace. Tech is still going places; at least to 9-3, in my opinion, and potentially to the top of the conference. The win doesn’t mean much today, but it will mean more on Oct. 1. And more again on Nov. 1. And by the end of November, when teams are preparing for conference title games and bowl play, those who demean Boise’s win today will recall just how meaningful a victory over Tech in early September really was.

As for Boise, nothing has changed. The Broncos can’t afford to look back. The path remains the same: 12-0. Tech was last week; Wyoming is next. Then Oregon State. Then WAC play. Boise can’t control national perception, can only dictate how its season plays out.

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Comments

  1. quigley says:

    The other problem for VT and the ACC in 0-4 in intersectional matchups. Only Miami (Pitt) and GT (Georgia) have meaningful games remaining that can increase the profile of the conference overall.

    Therefore, VT may go on to be 9-3 but who really cares if their best win is against GT, UNC, or Miami?

  2. Colin says:

    Especially now that those three teams have all lost their marquee non-conference matchups. (Is Kansas the only BCS team GT plays outside the ACC? Oh, I guess GT can redeem itself with Georgia.)

    What’s the likelihood of Boise State going undefeated, and finishing lower than it started the season (#3 in the AP poll)?

  3. John Irons says:

    Imagine if Boise St was in the MWC THIS year – picking up a win over Oregon St. and winning out in conference play over 2-3 ranked teams would still be enough.

    Unfortunately, they are in the WAC. That’s what we’ve been whining about Paul – you just can’t hang your hat on only 2 big games and hope to go to a National Championship. Not from that conference. Especially now that one of those big wins just completely deflated.

    Can they still beat the Beavers in Boise? Of course. But it’s simply not enough.

  4. Colin says:

    Nevada and Fresno State are both “receiving votes.” Not quite the same as TCU and Utah being ranked and Air Force and BYU “receiving votes,” but there’s a chance that one or both of those might be ranked at some point. Especially if Nevada manages the upset against Cal.

  5. M Meyer says:

    The other big problem with Boise State’s schedule is that their potential marquee win will be over Oregon State, which is a team TCU already beat. Then compare the best wins on both teams’ schedules if they both win out: TCU has the Beavers, Wyoming, potentially top 10 Utah, additional good conference matches with BYU and Air Force, and a decent team in Baylor.

    Boise State has the Beavers, Wyoming, humbled Virginia Tech, and good conference matches with Fresno State and Nevada.

    Two weeks in, TCU has the tougher schedule, but there are definitely more games to be played.

  6. Tim says:

    At least the WAC doesn’t have a loss against a FCS team. That’s more than the ACC, SEC, and Big12 can say.

  7. Zaboo says:

    Anyone that plays the JMU loss as an invalidation of VT’s entire season knows nothing about college football.

    Seriously, it was a horrible loss, but these things happen. The last time a ranked team lost to an FCS foe, that very team went on to beat that year’s Heisman winner in bowl play.

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