Boise's Big Win Over VT
Alright, so here's the question that everyone will have to ask over the next three months.
Is Boise State a national championship level team that just so happens to play in a lousy conference and has an easy schedule, or is this a good team that just so happens to play in a lousy conference and has an easy schedule.
The Virginia Tech win is the one the program needed to truly show that it can play among the big boys on the big stage without anyone being caught napping. This wasn't a win at Alabama or at Ohio State, but the national spotlight was on and all the pressure was on the Broncos to produce. Through mistakes, adversity, and a slew of problems, they came through. But is one great win over a very good team enough? Oregon State might be coming to Boise, and there's a sneaky-tough landmine at Nevada, but that's it. If Boise State loses to anyone else on its schedule (at Wyoming, at New Mexico State, Toledo, at San Jose State, Louisiana Tech, Hawaii, at Idaho, Fresno State, Utah State), it'll be a gag. No one should come within 21 points of the Broncos other than the Beavers and the Wolf Pack, and even they might have a tough time staying in range.
Boise State, after this win, has proven that it can hang around with anyone in America, but as the eternal argument goes, it's one thing to beat the Hokies on the road, and it's another to then have to go play Miami, and then NC State, and then Clemson, and then the rest of the ACC schedule. And then there's the SEC issue, who might have a one loss champion and will have to try to state its case why it deserves to be in the national title over a unbeaten Bronco team with a three-game slate.
But that's for down the road. There's still a lot of football to be played, and the question will be moot if Alabama and Ohio State go unbeaten.
For now, this is the moment when Boise State has shown that it belongs in the mix on a regular basis, and while it doesn't guarantee a spot in the national title game, it's a part of the debate more than ever now. It caught Oklahoma asleep in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, and it beat a TCU team that was its own non-BCS size in the 2010 Fiesta, but this was a win over an ACC team good enough to potentially go to the Orange Bowl in front of over 90,000 people. This would be a huge win for anyone, not just Boise State. The Broncos overcame their own mistakes, the crowd, a defense that appeared to suffer one major cramp at the same time in the heat, and they came up with the win when it looked like all was lost as the Hokies had the ball late trying to close things out.
Oh yes, this is a great team that happens to have a lousy schedule. So will it be about who deserves to be in the national title chase, or who might simply be good enough to be in it? This will be a fun ride.
There's simply no substitute for a veteran team or a top-tier coach, especially on the opening weekend of the season.
Please don't use the "C" word when referring to Boise State any longer. The Broncos are not a Cinderella story. They're a big-time program, which is assured of being one of the stories of the 2010 season as long as they continue win. The architect, head coach Chris Petersen, is at the top of his profession, perennially taking two-star players and transforming them into college stars and next-level candidates.
The biggest complement you can give Boise State right now is that Monday night's result was no surprise. Not at all. Not when Virginia Tech seized momentum. Not when QB Tyrod Taylor, who was brilliant, seemed to be taking the game over, and certainly not when Kellen Moore went behind center on that final drive with under two minutes to play. The Broncos had the Hokies just where they wanted them, with the outcome hanging in the balance and the ball in their hands. So, when Moore connected with Austin Pettis in the back of the end zone, it all seemed to make sense. Boise State had just knocked off a name-brand opponent in front of a massive audience, and Virginia Tech had fallen to a top 5 team outside of Blacksburg for, like, the 73rd straight time. Actually, the number is 22, which is an indictment of a very good staff that might be somewhat overrated nationally.
What a perfect ending for an opening weekend. An instant classic, to be sure. Boise State and Virginia Tech was as good as advertised. No, better. Now the rest of the country can follow every move of the Broncos, which might be Petersen's biggest challenge in an otherwise tissue-soft balance of the regular season schedule.
Oh, boy. If Oregon State doesn't rise up (and hey, the Beavers certainly could; TCU is on a level similar to Boise), we're going to have a lot of chatter throughout the season about Boise State. Let's gather ‘round the discussion table.
Instead of making statements, I'd like to raise questions, because it seems as though 99 percent of this nation's college football fans already had a certain opinion of Boise State before Monday's game, and left with pretty much the same impression of the Broncos. Those who felt Boise State would not deserve a BCS title game spot with a 12-0 record (assuming only one other team – at most – went unbeaten) have seemingly maintained their position. Those who always felt Boise would indeed deserve the title shot under those circumstances are, of course, feeling that their views have been affirmed and validated by Labor Day's events in Landover, Maryland. If our viewpoints are so entrenched, let's think about what would ever change them, because a discussion is no fun if we're already 100-percent set in our attitudes.
Question: Was there anything about Boise's performance against Virginia Tech – what it did or didn't do, be it good or bad – that influenced your thought process?
Question: Did any aspect of Virginia Tech's performance – good or bad – influence your thought process?
Question: Given that Boise State currently resides in the WAC, does its move to the Mountain West mean that BSU can't be deemed a factor until 2011, or does Boise's willingness to play tough teams represent enough of a commitment to national-championship worthiness?
Question: Given the WAC membership for one more year (this one), did Boise need to play four upper-tier non-conference opponents to merit BCS title game consideration? What about three? Or is two – Virginia Tech and Oregon State – enough?
Question: Did the poor officiating on Boise State's final offensive possession affect your thinking about the Broncos?
Question: If Boise State's schedule is worrisome and if that's a sticking point for you, what is your view of any BCS conference school that schedules cupcakes in its non-conference games? What ratio of tough games to easy games represents your basic threshold for national-title-game consideration?
Question: Does Boise State's now-consistent – really consistent – track record of beating quality opponents in both regular-season openers (Oregon 2009, Virginia Tech 2010) and bowl games (2007 Fiesta Bowl, 2010 Fiesta Bowl) mean anything to your assessments of the Broncos and the way you calibrate their BCS credentials? Would the move to the Mountain West do anything to re-shape your perception?
Do you want to know what I think? Well, I had Boise in the BCS National Championship Game alongside Ohio State before the season started. That aside, however, I'd wish that we – as a nation of football fans – could start to truly explain our positions. We all know what the positions are, but we don't have a deeper understanding of what they really look like at their most granular and molecular levels. Let's flesh out the well-known positions so that we can have a debate worthy of this great sport's national championship chase.