The Boise State Broncos open the 2011 season ranked #5 in the Associated Press poll, and are once again poised for a strong season in 2011, with senior quarterback Kellen Moore and senior runningback Doug Martin leading the way. During Kellen Moore’s tenure as the starting QB, the Boise State Broncos have amassed an incredible 38-2 record, including a 2-1 record in their bowl appearances. The only two losses that Boise State has suffered over the last three years were a three-point loss at Nevada in 2010, and a heartbreaking one-point loss to TCU in the 2008 Poinsetta Bowl.
Many analysts have been quick to point out, time and time again, that Boise State plays in a weak conference in the WAC, and would simpy evaporate in a Big 6 conference like the Pac-10, let alone the SEC. But before we can completely disregard Boise’s slate of opponents, we must remember that they have indeed scheduled and beaten several big-name schools. Everyone remembers the infamous triumph over the Oklahoma Sooners in the Fiesta Bowl in 2007. But, more recently, they won at Virginia Tech in the 2010 season opener (and Virginia Tech went on to a BCS game). They beat a solid Oregon Ducks team in both 2008 and 2009. They smothered Utah in the 2010 Las Vegas Bowl and they eclipsed TCU 17-10 in the 2010 BCS Fiesta Bowl following the ’09 season.
And while the Broncos are unable to boast beating any top-tier SEC team like Alabama, Auburn or LSU over the last few years, nobody can say they didn’t try. Head coach Chris Petersen has openly stated for several years that Boise State will schedule anyone who is willing. The simple fact of the matter is, just about every major college program has been afraid to accept the challenge. It is essentially a no-win situation for top tier schools in a Big 6 conference. This is simply because, if you are Oklahoma, or Florida, or Alabama, you are expected to win, so you better go out and do it. And if you win, everyone simply shrugs it off and moves on. But if you lose, the voters will punish you dearly, wondering how a power-football program in a major conference could possibly lose to a WAC member.
This unfortunately has a negative effect on Boise State, because it simply leaves them with a weak non-conference schedule on top of an already-weak conference schedule every year. Usually they are lucky enough to get one decent non-conference game per year (i.e. Oregon in ’09, Virginia Tech in ’10, and Georgia this season). If they lose this tough non-conference game, they are automatically out of BCS title game discussions, and maybe eliminted from BCS discussions as a whole. However, if they do win the tough matchups, and destroy the rest of their slate, it simply leaves analysts wondering whether they have proved themselves worthy of a title shot or not.
Boise State finished undefeated in 2008 and 2009, and in both occasions they were snubbed from national championship consideration, primarily because of their schedule. But if they once again run the table, and establish convincing wins over their tough opponents in 2011 – which will be at Georgia in the season opener, and hosting TCU on November 12th – do they not deserve a title shot?
The Broncos obviously must find ways to beat Georgia and TCU to have any hopes of playing in a BCS game. But they must convincingly win the other 10 games, and establish their new presence in the Mountain West conference, to convince voters that their time has finally come for a shot at the holy grail. Considering stud QB Kellen Moore and RB Doug Martin are back for their final seasons, with the offense returning several starters on the offensive line, everyone should be expecting another high-powered offense putting up 40+ points per game in 2011. It is not unreasonable to think they could finish 2011 with another undefeated season, 12-0, spotless. And if they do it again this time, while showing they can finish off respectable adversaries in Georgia and TCU, I think they fully deserve a place in the National Championship game, no matter what. They will have earned it. The question will be, have they finally convinced the voters?
Season Stats Obtained from Yahoo! Sports