The Pressure's On Boise

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Though Boise State's coach and players have grown accustomed to winning contests with high stakes, something about the postgame setting at FedEx Field seemed awkward Monday night.

Maybe it was the way the Broncos had to stand on the dais with their hands on their hips and their thigh pads rubbing against the folding table holding microphones several feet beneath them. There were no chairs for the victors to sit in, no respite even after defeating a top 10 opponent in the season opener and solidifying their unlikely role as national title contenders.

With a 33-30 win over No. 10 Virginia Tech under its belt, No. 3 Boise State's path to the Bowl Championship Series national championship game somehow simultaneously grew easier and more difficult. While it's true that the Broncos now own a signature victory, they know it's also true that the pressure to remain unbeaten - and thus, eligible to earn that sought-after BCS title game berth - will grow exponentially as each week passes.

Given that Boise State does not hail from one of the six conferences that automatically earn BCS bowl berths, the Broncos possess no margin for error in their quest. For Boise State - a member of the Western Athletic Conference - loss No. 1 is the only one that matters, which is why Monday's high-profile affair widely was considered the Broncos' one-game season.

"The next game we play will also be another one-game season," Boise State senior cornerback Brandyn Thompson said. "Once you win the first one, now you've got to win the rest of them."

Next up, the Broncos play Wyoming at home. The following week, they host Oregon State. Many observers believe that if Boise State can escape its first three games unscathed, winning the remainder of its games will be more a matter of preventing self-destruction than allowing an equal or superior opponent to prevail.

Even if the Broncos manage to finish their third consecutive regular season undefeated, there is no guarantee the BCS doors will open and allow them to play for its grandest prize. Boise State has won two BCS bowls in the past four years, and yet, its cache when it comes to BCS rankings is limited. Just as Coach Chris Petersen's squad has no margin for error, it also will receive no benefit of the doubt.

"We can't afford any slip-ups, especially after setting ourselves up like this," said senior wide receiver Austin Pettis, whose 13-yard touchdown reception with just more than a minute left sealed Monday night's win for the Broncos. "That's what everyone expected and wanted, and we got the job done. Every game is definitely the biggest game for what we want to do at the end of the season."

The first BCS rankings won't be released until mid-October, but as it stands right now, Boise State needs either Alabama or Ohio State - or to really bolster their chances, both - to lose at least one game in the next three months.

For good measure, the Broncos also could stand to see No. 4 Florida, No. 5 Texas and No. 7 Oklahoma register a mark in the 'L' column. The No. 6 team in the preseason Associated Press poll - Texas Christian - resides in the Mountain West Conference and, thus, is in a predicament similar to Boise State: Win 'em all, or bust.

Just be sure not to talk along those lines around Petersen.

"We're not talking about running the table," Petersen said. "We're talking about winning the next game. That's really what it is. You set your goals in spring football or fall camp and then you move forward, and really that's the nice thing is the way our goals are set, it's all about the process and it's all about the next game. There's just too many hurdles that we have to get through before talking about running the table and those type of things."

by Steve Yanda


You asked for it and you got it. It's our annual Jim Sez look at the NFL Over/Under Wins Totals for this year ... enjoy!
Note that all figures below are based on $100 per-play odds:

Arizona 7.5
over 130
The Cards wish retired QB Kurt Warner would ditch the Dancing With the Stars bit and play ball instead
Atlanta 9.5 over/under 115 We'll see how much the Falcons love to play on the road when they encounter three straight away games in Dec.
Baltimore 9.5
over 200
Nobody looked better in the preseason than did these Ravens but will QB Joe Flacco take that next step?
Buffalo 5.5
under 150
There's been plenty of sentiment that says the 2010 Bills will be the NFL's worst team ... hmmm
Carolina 7
under 125
Did you realize that the Panthers haven't won a playoff game since 2005? It's post-season or bust for Mr. Fox
Chicago 7.5
over 130
If the Bears' offensive line doesn't keep QB Jay Cutler in an upright mode than everyone's going down in Chitown
Cincinnati 8.5
under 120
The Bengals play three of their first four games away but maybe the T.O. and Ochocinco tandem like it that way
Cleveland 5.5 over/under 110 The Browns won their final four regular-season games in 2009 and now we'll see if that winning culture returns
Dallas 10.5
under 140
Put it this way: If the Cowboys want to win a lot, than they better produce in the red zone (see preseason woes)
Denver 7.5
under 150
The odds are the Broncos will have a QB controversy sometime before Thanksgiving Day
Detroit 5.5
under 120
Do the math and you'll see the Lions have won just two games total the past two years ... ugh
Green Bay 9.5
over 165
It sure seems as if the Pack are the 'flavor of the month' in the NFC but can this team make a big 'D' stand?
Houston 8.5
over/under 115
The Texans have lost six in a row to divisional rival Indy and may have to finally beat 'em to cash here
Indianapolis 10.5
over 120
In case you were wondering, the last time the Colts didn't win 10-or-more games was back in 2001
Jacksonville 6.5
over 135
NFL handicappers know the Jags are 9-23 ATS the past two years and so tough to have confidence in 'em here
Kansas City 6.5
over/under 115
The Chiefs have won a grand total of 10 games the past three years and still have no downfield threat
Miami 8.5
over 130
Might their late-season sked save the 2010 Dolphins and their 'over' players? Take a peek at the final six games
Minnesota 9.5
under 145
If QB Brett Favre stays in one piece than this Las Vegas price tag actually might be considered cheap
New England 9.5
over/under 115
The Pats were all business in the preseason but lack of quality depth may be a problem come December
New Orleans 10.5
over/under 115
Don't look now but Saints could easily start off 2010 season at 7-and-oh (go ahead and check the sked)
NY Giants 9
over/under 115
To think that last year's Jints started off 5-0 and still didn't register a winning record ... but it's true!
NY Jets 9.5
under 120
The NFL's biggest big-mouths have won 10-or-more regular-season games just once in the past five years
Oakland 6.5
over 135
Somebody out there likes the silver-and-black 'cause they were just 6 over 125 two weeks ago ... just saying
Philadelphia 8.5
under 140
Now that the Eagles will be QB Donovan McNabb-free, we'll see if they can have a winning record
Pittsburgh 8.5
over 120
Interestingly, the Steelers over/under win total didn't climb after QB Ben Roethlisberger had his suspension cut
St. Louis 4.5
over 125
Tell us right now that top draft pick QB Sam Bradford won't get hurt and we'll tell you the Rams could win 6 or 7
San Diego 10.5
under 130
Knee-jerk reaction is to say the Chargers don't lose an AFC West game but who says anything is a lock?
San Francisco 9
over 130
The Niners copped 5-of-6 from NFC West rivals last year and similar showing year could mean cha-ching
Seattle 6.5
over 130
Not everyone's sure Pete Carroll is gonna turn the tide as the Seahawks had win price at 7 last week
Tampa Bay 5.5
over 140
The Bucs were an easy 'under' last year while going 3-13 -- and that included a late-year win against N'Orleans
Tennessee 8
over 125
The word is out in/around Music City that this club is set for a smashing start -- Titans were 0-6 out of gate in '09
Washington 7.5
under 125
Why does something tell us 'Skins defensive lineman Albert Haynesworth won't be around for end of '10 campaign?

NOTE: Next up get our Mid-Week Edition of Jim Sez that will include -- among other items -- an NFL Kickoff Opener Preview between the Minnesota Vikings at the Super Bowl champion New Orleans Saints along with College Football Thursday/Friday Previews that will include Auburn at Mississippi State (Thursday) and West Virginia at Marshall (Friday) ... plus lots, lots more


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