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Third View of Saturday: Annoyance

It’s with a certain degree of annoyance and frustration that Boise State takes the field every Saturday, which might account for the relative ease with which the Broncos dispatch with every would-be challenger. The Broncos know that beauty points aren’t enough, that regardless of the final outcome, B.C.S. conference programs — and their backers — will rely on the same argument every year: Boise doesn’t play anyone. And so it is that this simple and illogical statement defines Boise State’s often fruitless chase for a B.C.S. title game berth, which even with Wisconsin and Oklahoma’s losses on Saturday night remains out of its control.

That two B.C.S. favorites fell off the map does little for the Broncos, who remain behind the eight ball in the race for Jan. 9. That’s because for every B.C.S. conference undefeated that falls off the map there’s another to take its place: Oklahoma’s gone, but Oklahoma State has popped up in the Sooners’ stead.

Call it B.C.S. Whack-A-Mole: Boise State sees one head fall and another pop up. The B.C.S. conferences are like hydras; there are enough heads to ensure that there are at least two undefeated B.C.S. teams left standing when the calendar turns to January. For Boise State, Saturday night’s shocking losses merely cause a bit more frustration.

But less than usual, to be honest. The Broncos can see some light at the end of the tunnel, seeing that only two or three teams — not the usual four, five or six — need to suffer a loss to pave Boise’s road to a national title game berth. There’s some light, but Boise still needs some help.

Oregon needs to beat Stanford. Oklahoma — or another Big 12 team — needs to beat Oklahoma State. Oklahoma State — or Oklahoma, or another — needs to beat Kansas State. South Carolina — or Virginia Tech, or another — needs to beat Clemson. And the winner of the Nov. 5 date between Alabama and L.S.U. needs to win convincingly, burying for once and for all the idea that the two could meet again for the national championship.

That’s all, and that’s the bad news. The good news? All can happen. The least-likely of the group is that Oregon gets the better of Stanford; that’s more a reflection on the Cardinal, who have been superb, than the Ducks, who have rebounded nicely from its season-opening defeat. Oklahoma can absolutely beat Oklahoma State; both can absolutely, positively beat Kansas State; Clemson could lose twice, let alone once, heading into bowl play.

This is good. But the fact that Boise could get to Jan. 9 does little to diminish the annoyance of entering Saturday ranked No. 5 in The Associated Press Poll, seeing No. 3 and No. 4 lose yet remaining, yes, No. 5. That The A.P. Poll doesn’t account for any part of the B.C.S. standings helps, but the ease with which the Broncos were bypassed by Oklahoma State and Stanford illustrates the ease with which voters overlook the program.

Oklahoma and Wisconsin were devastated by Saturday’s results. Teams like Stanford, Oklahoma State and Clemson were overjoyed. Boise State? Well, Boise is hopeful yet still annoyed and frustrated with the entire system. Big East, anyone?

And the Broncos aren’t the only team that feels as it it’s treading water. Another is Penn State, which must wonder what it needs to do as a one-loss team to get a little national recognition. The Nittany Lions will get their chance — Nebraska on Nov. 12, Wisconsin on Nov. 26 — but remain in the darkness in the race for a B.C.S. bowl.

Wisconsin’s loss severely dents Nebraska’s at-large B.C.S. hopes. The Cornhuskers hoped that the Rose Bowl would look kindly on a resume of 11-2 with both losses to the Badgers, one in the regular season and another in the Big Ten title game. And any hope of being the second Big Ten team in the B.C.S. hinged on Wisconsin running the table, which would open the Rose Bowl up to the conference’s second-place team.

So while two B.C.S. favorites are disappointed, while a handful of would-be title-winners are elated, there are a few teams that are just… frustrated.

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  1. Monty says:

    Serious question — suppose that one of the Alabama / LSU pair does take care of business, but that every other unbeaten save Boise State does falter.

    In that case, does a one-loss team (such as the loser of the Alabama/LSU matchup, or Oregon, or Oklahoma, or Michigan State) jump the Broncos for a chance at the title bid? My gut says that’s likely, even though it may not be fair. What do you think, Paul?

  2. Burnt Orange says:

    over/under on number of comments is 27.

  3. Kazzy says:

    I’ll take the over on that one.

  4. Silas says:

    The losses by OK and WI were generally met with wistful sighs around here in Boise. Bronco fans have been through this before. Even Clemson – which has a porous defense and a couple shaky wins gets a lot more national respect. And Okie Lite, which basically has NO defense is up there at number 3…

    Yes, BSU has an easier conference schedule than any of the top contenders, but it looks like GA will have a solid record, Toledo, Tulsa and Nevada might win their conferences… And the Broncos beat them all easily. In the end it hardly moves the needle of national perception.

    We in Bronco Nation are resigned to our fate.

  5. DMK says:

    … and Oklahoma and Wisconsin were looking great. (I thought there was no way Wisconsin wouldn’t win out.) But then OK and WI find themselves playing a couple of pretty decent college football teams and they have off days and get beaten and are now total afterthoughts. That’s what happens when you play 6 or 7 decent teams a year: one usually gets you.

    Stanford, Clemson, KState, etc, will have played several real teams. Not one. Not two. Several. If they win out, they’re for real.

  6. Bill condon says:

    As a Georgia fan, I will attest that BSU is for real. But Georgia is not s strong team even now. I think at 22 we are overrated, given the inconsistency of effort from that team. Still, no other team on Boise’s-schedule belongs in the top 25, or even the top 40, if that. MAC champions struggle to defeat lower-tier BCS teams. That’s why an undefeated BSU will always be edged out by a one-loss BCS power.

    I wish someone would realize the same about the Big Ten and the Big East. Wisconsin’s loss is not a surprise. Nor is Penn State’s difficulty in gaining traction. The Big Ten is old news. Just look at their track record in bowl games. The Big East is even more suspect, which explains their current struggle to maintain their existence. It’s a decent basketball conference.

    Until BSU, the Big Ten “powers” and the Big East schedule AND defeat teams of the caliber we see in the SEC, the Big 12 and, at the top anyway, the PAC 12, they will continue to lose at leapfrog.

  7. 4.0 Point Stance says:

    Monty, I think BSU’s only real hope is for there to be only one undefeated BCS team; one one-loss BCS team; and for those two teams to have already played each other. Oregon-LSU, LSU-Bama, Penn State-Bama, and Arkansas-Bama; OK State-K State are possibilities (some more likely than others). And of course BSU has to go undefeated.

    In that improbable situation, I think the voters would prefer to put the Broncos at the #2 spot over a rematch. In any other situation I think any one loss team goes before Boise State.

    Of course, this doesn’t bother me. If your defense of your schedule is that you beat teams that “might” win the MAC or C-USA (for the record, Toledo is currently 5-3 and Tulsa is 4-3), you really don’t have a lot of room to complain.

  8. ninjamonkey says:

    For the record, Tulsa and Toledo are both undefeated in conference play, and are favorites to win their conferences, and UGA is doing pretty well in their little conference, whichever one that is.

  9. Mike says:

    Bill- Boise still has TCU on November 9th who i’m pretty sure would qualify as a top 40 team. Not trying to argue that Boise’s schedule is equivalent to some of the other teams in the top five, but people are seriously discounting TCU as a quality opponent on their schedule. TCU’s young defense has been getting better, and they have a QB who is playing lights out. The frogs have a chance to slip back into the top 25 in the coming weeks and give Boise a tough test come Nov 9th.

  10. Mike says:

    Correction… TCU v Boise Nov 12.

  11. Burnt Orange says:

    Let’s just suppose Georgia wins the SEC East – not impossible if they beat Florida and given South Carolina’s schedule. Then let’s assume Georgia plays the Bama/LSU winner tough ( within 14 points) in the SEC title game. If that occurs, you have to take BSU over any one loss BCS team don’t you ?

  12. DMK says:

    Boise is just too full of known unknowns, to use Dick Cheney’s terminology.

    Would they do great in the SEC? I know that there’s no way to know.

    The opposite is Auburn last year. I still *believe* that they were the third best team in the SEC West, but there’s absolutely no debate that they played all of the top squads and beat all of them and that’s a fact. It happened. I saw it.

    If Clemson or KState or OkSt or Stanford wins out, they will actually have accomplished something.

    It’s possible (known unknown) that Boise is perpetually undefeated because they are perpetually fabulous, elite and legendary (and not because they play homecoming every week). But how the hell is anyone supposed to tell?

  13. Rookierookie says:

    All Penn State needs to do is to go at least 10-2 in the regular season with a win over Wisconsin, win the Big Ten championship game, and here comes the roses. Not exactly in the darkness of a BCS bowl.

  14. Jeff says:

    BSU has beaten solid SEC, ACC, and PAC 10/12 teams in non-conference games in recent years. BSU has played well in bowl games. They can beat any team in the country and deserve a shot at the title game if they are one of only 1/2 undefeated teams at the end of the year.

  15. Parker says:

    Hi Paul

    When Boise went undefeated in the 2004 and 2006 regular seasons, the Broncos finished behind:

    1. Every other undefeated team
    2. Every 1-loss team from a BCS conference
    3. A couple of 2-loss teams from BCS conferences

    When Boise went undefeated in 2008 and 2009, the Broncos finished ahead of all 2-loss teams but behind:

    1. Every other undefeated team
    2. Every 1-loss team from a BCS conference

    So respect has been a slow progression for the Broncos.

    Could this be the year that Boise finally finishes ahead of a 1-loss team from a BCS conference?

    Probably. But not all BCS conferences are created equal. Realistically, Boise St would have a hard time finishing ahead of a 1-loss LSU or Alabama team.

  16. Parker says:

    Referring to the final regular season BCS poll, of course.

  17. Dave says:

    @ DMK –

    Let’s not focus on straw men – not even Kellen Moore would argue that an undefeated Boisie should outrank an undefeated Ok State or Stanford or Clemson. (I’m not even going to mention K State because ther eis no way in hell they win SAturday). What else is strength of schedule for if not to sort out teams with identical records?

    The real argument, as set forth by Monty, is whether Boisie beats out a 1-loss BCS team. In my mind, the only 1-loss team with an argument for a title shot would be a ‘Bama or LSU team that loses a close one to the other the first week of Nov. – especially LSU, with its impressive OOC wins.

    But before we go down that road – anyone who argued against an Ohio State-Michigan rematch in ’06 on account of “nobody wants to see a rematch between two teams from the same conference” is estopped from advocating for a ‘Bama-LSU rematch this year.

  18. 4.0 Point Stance says:

    “For the record, Tulsa and Toledo are both undefeated in conference play”
    True but so what. For Tulsa, the undefeated conference record means they’ve beaten Tulane, UAB, and Rice, numbers 99, 105, and 114 in the PSR 120.

    For Toledo, the undefeated conference record reflects wins over Temple (75), EMU (108), Bowling Green (101), and the other Miami (83). And throw in a win over a I-AA team.

    As much as Boise fans would like to defend these games as “good wins” for the Broncos, the facts just don’t support it.

  19. ninjamonkey says:

    Sorry 4.0, I wasn’t really defending our schedule, just pointing out that the teams that you said “might” win their conferences are actually doing fairly well in conference play, so while yes, they might not win, they’re looking better and better that they will win. And beating 3 conference champions (including Nevada) by 20 points each, is a pretty good win in my opinion. Having said that, I’m perfectly fine with the way everything is playing out, and I’m rooting for an OK State/LSU championship game. I’m not worried about bowl games, I’m just enjoying watching my team play and win games. Football is supposed to be fun to watch and I don’t think that worrying about who’s ranked where is very fun. That’s just me though, if you enjoy it, then more power to you.

  20. schedule nit says:

    Blue team no wear blue at home? Sad blue panda is sad:(

    Hey here’s an idea; tell me how edging Air Force who just got stomped by Notre Dame meant Boise should rise to #3? You know, the actual games played this week.

  21. DMK says:

    It was a trap game for Boise: emotionally spent after Colorado St. and caught peeking ahead to UNLV.

  22. Burnt Orange says:

    The past three pre-seasons we have heard how Boise would lose its opener to Oregon, Va. Tech and Georgia. Boise has accepted every opportunity to improve its conference affilliation over the years. Finacially, I suppose they have to have some non conference home games and Toledo and Tulsa are willing to do a home and home. I would submit that scheduling Tulsa and Toledo ( each of which have a history of knocking off multiple Big 10 and Big 12 schools) is better than scheduling non conference Furman, Coastal Carolina, Kent State, North Texas, Jacksonville State, Southern Illinois, La. Tech, Buffalo, Elon, Western Kentucky, UAB, UT Martin, Memphis, Missouri State, Montana, etc.

  23. Lee says:

    BOISE is a good team BUT stop with the “they have played quality opponents crap.” TCU suck this year. They lost to freaking SMU. UGA is a 6-7 win team if not for the fact that they completely missed ARK, LSU, and BAMA. They are probably going to lose to UF and AUB anyway. That is an 8-4 record with the easiest possible SEC slate….ever.

    I personally hope that Boise plays Bama or LSU so they can get their tails smoked and we can end this silly discussion once and for all.

    Everyone knows that they can play anyone once with a month to prepare and win. What they don’t do is earn a shot at the highest honor in the land because they play no else.

  24. Dave says:

    As has been said before, if your team doesn’t have the b@lls to schedule Boise State, you forfeit your right to talk smack about them.

    Rather than focus on why they AREN’T deserving, who would care to put forth a potential 1-loss team (other than the loser of LSU/’Bama) that WOULD be deserving of a title shot? Be sure to explain why the voters should overlook that 1 loss.

  25. Mikrino says:

    Same story, different season for Boise State fans. Every year we hear what they can’t do and they still go out and put 12 wins year after year. And every year their detractors move the goalposts for them. It was that they coudln’t beat Oregon, they did twice. Well Oregon’s just not that good. They couldn’t get past Va. Tech on the road, they did. Well, Va. tech just isn’t that good. Next up was the mighty SEC. Boise State can’t beat Georgia. UGA going into the season was a favorite to win the SEC East. Boise State beat them too, and immediately they’re not as good as everyone made them out to be. No Boise State is right back to playing nobodies, even though they moved to a “better” conference.

    It isn’t new to Boise State fans that the goalposts keep moving for them, they have been for 10 years now. But don’t go saying that everyone’s afraid of them, because surely that isn’t it. They just aren’t that good. Meanwhile, they’ll just be undefeated over here in the corner.

  26. Grodo says:

    Lee – you “hope” BSU gets to play LSU or Bama. We hope so too. And you know they won’t get “smoked.” They never do, no matter who they play. Recall that Petersen had them take a knee inside the 5 yard line 3 times against Georgia in a game nowhere near as close as the score (35-21) indicated. No use embarassing an SEC opponent. We fans are used to this nonsense – but we love a team that does our talking for us. Soon it will be the turn of another set of homers, like you.

  27. DMK says:

    Over/under on this thread was 27 …

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