Third View of Saturday: Annoyance
By Paul Myerberg // Oct 25, 2011
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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Tags: B.C.S., Boise State, Nebraska, Oklahoma, Penn State, Wisconsin
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