The big day has finally arrived for No. 3 Boise State. We will know once and for all whether the Broncos will continue to be in the national title conversation after their huge game against No. 10 Virginia Tech tonight.
Throughout the course of the last month, many people have brought up the 2005 game between Boise State and Georgia as an example of why the Broncos do not belong anywhere near the national stage. Boise State got embarrassed 48-13 in Athens. News flash -- Boise State 2010 is not Boise State 2005.
1. This team is better. In 2005, the Broncos were just making their national reputation. They went into the game ranked No. 18 -- the first time they were ever ranked going into the season. Simply put, Boise State lacked much of the national exposure and experience playing in such big games with the spotlight turned on them. The 2010 version returns 20 starters from a team that won a BCS game last season. In 2005, Boise State had yet to crash the BCS party.
2. Kellen Moore is better than Jared Zabransky. The offenses are both high-powered, but Moore is much more disciplined, poised and better equipped to handle the pressure. Zabranksy threw four interceptions and had two fumbles in the first half before got yanked from the Georgia game, essentially dooming Boise State from having any shot at winning. Moore threw three interceptions in all of 2009. Boise State coach Chris Petersen, who was offensive coordinator in 2005, was asked about lessons learned from that game. "Hope our quarterback plays a little bit better than we did back then," he said.
3. This defense is better. A very underrated unit, the defense has started to get some national attention following its performance against TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. The defense ranked No. 14 in the country last season, giving up about 300 yards a game. The 2005 defense was statistically one of the worst Boise State has fielded in the last 10 years.
4. They have more experience. As I alluded to in the first point, Boise State has gone up against teams from AQ conferences and won those games since the Georgia debacle. Boise State 4-1 against teams from AQ conferences in the last four seasons. That includes one BCS win against Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. It is no fluke this team is ranked No. 3 in the preseason. These Broncos know how to handle pressure and national media attention. They understand what is at stake in this game.
"This program is in such a different place today than it was six years ago," said Scott Huff, tight ends coach. "I just think these guys are close. They’ve been through a lot together and if they go through some adversity they’ll rally around together."
Petersen, of course, scoffs at the notion that this season has anything to do with what happened in 2005: "I don’t think Georgia has anything to do with this game. That hasn’t even come up."