Is this the year that Boise State shakes up the college football establishment and plays its way into a BCS national title shot?
Would they get the nod over a one-loss SEC champion, and how would the Broncos fare in the SEC?
National blogger Andrea Adelson and SEC blogger Chris Low tackle those questions and more in a debate that’s only gaining steam as Boise State continues to rack up the wins:
Chris Low: Andrea, I have no doubt that the grind of playing eight SEC games would take its toll on Boise State and that the Broncos wouldn’t be sitting there with 11 or 12 wins every year at the end of the season. I have a ton of respect for what Chris Petersen has accomplished with that program, and the Broncos have proved they can beat just about anybody in a one-game situation. But playing in the WAC simply doesn’t compare to playing in the SEC. It’s apples and oranges. It’s like asking where are you most likely to be attacked by a Great White Shark: Swimming in your neighbor’s pool or swimming off the coast of South Africa?
Andrea Adelson: Chris, nobody at Boise State or anywhere else thinks the WAC schedule is as tough as the SEC. Hence the reason for trying to schedule marquee games against major BCS powers in nonconference play. It's not the Broncos' fault nobody wants a piece of them. Why should Boise State be penalized because it has to play the schedule in front of it? The Broncos have proved they can beat good BCS teams. They have proved they can win BCS games. When are they going to get credit for winning all the games on their schedule? Everybody loves the Butlers of the world come NCAA tournament time, but everybody thinks Cinderella is the wicked stepsister in college football. Just give these guys a chance.
Chris Low: You’re right, the WAC is the conference Boise State plays in. That’s just the way it is. But it’s not even close to playing an SEC schedule, which is why a one-loss SEC champion should always get the nod over any unbeaten team from the WAC, Mountain West or any of the non-BCS conferences for that matter. I like your hoops analogy, but the difference is that Boise State isn’t carving its way through powerhouses in football en route to the championship game a la Butler in hoops a year ago. Butler beat Syracuse, Kansas State and Michigan State just to get to Duke in the title game. Boise State closes this season with Fresno State, Nevada and Utah State.
Andrea Adelson: Fresno State and Nevada have been two of the best WAC teams in football. But that is beside the point. If you say the Broncos have already proved they are up to the task of beating just about anybody, then why deny them a spot in the national championship game? Folks are always going to look for an excuse to knock down the newcomer, the team that does not have the pedigree of an Alabama or a Texas. People don't want to give Boise State credit for the win over Oklahoma because it came on a trick play. People don't want to give Utah credit for beating Alabama in the Sugar Bowl because the Tide were deflated and didn't care after losing the SEC championship game. If these teams have proved they know how to win big-time games, then that, plus their undefeated seasons, should be reason enough to include them in the national title game.
Chris Low: I’m not saying that Boise State doesn’t belong in the national championship equation, especially if the Broncos are sitting there unbeaten. They just don’t belong in the title game over a one-loss SEC team. Alabama beat six nationally ranked teams last season, including four top-10 teams. Granted, there was really no debate because the Crimson Tide were unbeaten. But in 2008, Florida did have a loss, yet the Gators also beat six nationally ranked teams, including four top-10 teams. Nobody in good conscience could argue that an unbeaten Boise State team would be more deserving of playing for a national title than Florida given that same 2008 scenario.
Andrea Adelson: And which of these mighty SEC teams would take down Boise State? Georgia? Tennessee? Ole Miss? Mississippi State? The Broncos would be favored against every SEC team this year except two. This is nothing against the SEC. I think it is the best conference in the country. But to say Boise State would be in over its head in the league is a specious argument. The Broncos are proven winners and would absolutely be contenders for an SEC championship.
Chris Low: That’s just my point, that the Broncos would be one of those other "mighty" teams in the SEC, occasionally flirting with 10 or more wins and occasionally dipping down to seven or eight wins. Winning seasons aren’t guaranteed in this league. Alabama, Auburn and Tennessee all suffered through at least one losing season last decade, and all three of those schools have either won a BCS national championship or recorded a perfect season during the BCS era. The cyclical nature of this league has a way of catching up with just about everybody. Boise State would experience that same roller-coaster ride. The reality is that this is a debate that’s not going to die. That is, unless Boise State joins the SEC, which isn’t going to happen. So maybe we get the next best thing and Boise State is paired with Alabama, Florida or one of those other "mighty" teams from the SEC in this season’s BCS National Championship Game. How’s that for a compromise? The Broncos get a chance to end the SEC’s national championship streak, which is getting "mighty" long.