Tuesday, September 7, 2010

Unfortunately For the Broncos, This Is As Good As It Is Going To Get

Last night's win for the Broncos was everything that could have been expected from the blue crew: an exciting last-minute drive with some luck along the way. Detractors have been complaining about the questionable personal foul on the last drive, but calls are calls - some go in your favor, some don't.

Boise again did what they have done time after time - when asked to prove themselves, they have. So, now is the time that they deserve a shot at the title, right?

But we can't argue about what they deserve. We've got to play in the system that we have. And whether it's their own fault because of the conference they play in, or others (big name programs won't play them) - Boise State is still on the outside looking in.

And this year will be no different.

Despite the high preseason ranking - which helps - Boise still needs an Everest amount of help in order to make it into the BCS title game. Kirk Herbstreit can plead coyly to 'BCS voters' on national television all he wants - that doesn't do the only thing that would help Boise.

Everyone else needs to lose, and lose a lot.

While, at this point, it's impossible to predict the BCS computations, I've taken a look at the schedules of the current top 16 teams in the coaches' poll, a component of the BCS formula.

And I found out some interesting stuff. We're familiar with the notion that your schedule matters, and the rankings of the people you play, your opponents' opponents, etc. I used the top 16 ranked teams because I couldn't really see anyone outside of that group rising up to win a national title. And historically, rising up from past the top 15 is extremely rare.

But, in the end, it's the schedules that will doom the Broncos. Theirs, and everyone else's.

What will end up happening this year is that during/after a succession of 'nobody' games from Boise (New Mexico State, Toledo, San Jose State, Louisiana Tech...), other highly ranked teams won't be playing 'nobody' games. And, they'll pass Boise in the standings. Impressive wins over other good teams make a difference in the moment, and the Broncos will be left out in the cold.

My predictions:
Week 7: Florida jumps TCU with win over LSU (especially if they play Alabama close).
Week 8: Texas slides past Boise State with wins over Oklahoma in week 5 and Nebraska in Week 7.

What was a promising outlook is foiled through time by a lack of quality opponents over the last two-thirds of the season. Should everyone do what they are supposed to do this year, Boise could fall to #5.

But what do they need to happen to keep the dream alive?

Oklahoma needs to beat Texas. Florida could beat Alabama, and Alabama needs to return the favor in the SEC title game. Althought I doubt it'll happen, Ohio State needs to drop a game that they shouldn't (Wisconsin). It could go on forever.

But, under the assumption that Boise is undefeated after the first weekend in December, these types of teams would beat them out for the BCS:
A) One-loss SEC championship team
B) An undefeated Big XII champion
C) A non-Ohio State undefeated Big Ten champ
D) A one-loss Ohio State (loss is early - Miami? - run it from there, win Big Ten)
E) An undefeated Oregon (who play no one all year, by the way - Tennessee doesn't count)
F) Undefeated ACC champ
G) Undefeated Big East champ (I know, but they are a BCS conference)

And I realize none of that is terribly ground-breaking, but it demonstrates just how many opportunities there are for Boise State to not get a shot at this thing, despite the high ranking early in the year.

They are going to get leapfrogged somewhere during the season. It's going to happen. And I believe that other schools (Ohio State, Alabama) have the opportunity to recover from any early season losses and win out and still stay on top of Boise State.

If the Broncos want their shot, they don't need to just win out, because it's still not just up to them.