BCS at Stake for Boise State?



by Mathew Hurley, Managing Editor

It's a scary thought, but Boise State's schedule is easy enough the rest of the way that a victory over Virginia Tech this evening on ESPN could launch them to an undefeated season.

Other 'powers that be' in college football will all have much tougher challenges. Texas and Oklahoma have to play each other. Alabama and Florida have to play each other (though Florida may be out of the picture soon based on their dismal performance this past Saturday). Ohio State will have a few challenges in the Big Ten. EVERYONE will have a tougher schedule than Boise State from this point forward.

Let's assume Boise State beats Virginia Tech tonight at FexEx Field in Landover, Maryland. Here's what's ahead for the blue Broncos:

SEPTEMBER 18TH: at Wyoming...an easy opponent after a bye week. And, Wyoming will have been physically beat up in a road loss at Texas the prior Saturday. This is a road game...and you can't ever assume perfection on the road. Still, it should be a cakewalk.

SEPTEMBER 25TH: vs. Oregon State. This is the last big name opponent on the schedule. Oregon State was competitive with TCU this past Saturday at the new Cowboys stadium. But, the yardage was worse than the score. Oregon State was outgained 453-255, outrushed 278-73, and struggled at the QB position when trying to play from behind in the second half. This is not a team ready to travel to Boise and win on the blue turf. Boise State will be a clear favorite here, though it is a possible stumbling block. For now, you'd have to pencil in a win...and a 3-0 start should Boise have survived tonight's battle with Virginia Tech.

*October 2nd: at New Mexico State...with Boise being a monster favorite against one of the worst teams in the country.

*October 9th: vs. Toledo, who just got crushed at home this past Friday night by Arizona. Boise State is better than Arizona, and will be playing at home.

*October 16th: at San Jose State...who just got crushed by Alabama 48-3 this past Saturday Night, getting outgained 591-175. Nice for Boise that the road games so far are Wyoming, New Mexico State, and San Jose State.

*October 26th: vs. Louisiana Tech...who is unlikely to pose much of a threat in Idaho, particularly if the weather turns cool against a Southern team. Not that Boise needs any extra perks when laying points at home!

*November 6th: vs. Hawaii...who did impress offensively against Southern Cal last week. Normally we wouldn't have considered this a danger game. Maybe we'll change our minds come November. Of course, November weather could help the hosts against the opponents from the islands. This is probably an 8-0 start given what the pointspreads will be (again, we're starting with the assumption of a Boise win tonight).

*November 12th: at Idaho...which is at least a rivalry game, but not much of a road trip. Boise will be prohibitive favorites here. There's a chance it gets interesting.

*November 19th: vs. Fresno State...who did look pretty good in beating Cincinnati this past Saturday Night 28-14. Can a California team win with the mid-November cold of a Friday Night game? We will say this...Boise State's schedule got tougher the past few days with decent outings from both Hawaii and Fresno State. Looking at last year's versions of those teams...a couple of larks turned into potential challenges at least.

*November 26th: at Nevada...a team that just matches up horribly with Boise State. Nevada's defense gets squashed by quality on a ridiculously consistent basis. Now...the Wolfpack do have a stud quarterback, and they'll have a chance to win a shootout if Boise is tired from their recent schedule sequence. It's not the same as playing a month solid in the SEC. Boise better not get complacent.

*December 4th: vs. Utah State...who impressed on the road at Oklahoma this past Saturday Night, but isn't likely to pose a big threat. Nice to see some teams on this schedule stepping up and showing improvement from last year though.

So...in sum...you can't officially say that a win tonight for Boise State puts them in the BCS Championship game. There are legitimate stumbling blocks out there, even if Boise is destined to be laying double digits every game from this point forward. A flat effort, and they'll have their hands full with a few league rivals. Oregon State doesn't have a great big game history under this head coach, but the QB will be a couple of weeks more mature than he was against TCU. It's not a one game season.

And, of course, there's no guarantee Boise State will win tonight!

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In fact, this will be their first true big game test against a BCS conference team in quite some time.

*Last year, they beat Oregon in the season opener. But, that was at home, and Oregon was breaking in a new offensive line that just wasn't ready for an aggressive fired up opponent. They play that game in November, or in a bowl on a neutral field, and you can't assume a Boise State victory.

*The history-making bowl upset of Oklahoma came against a disinterested opponent that believed they were championship material and Boise was a bunch of munchkins. It was great to see an arrogant favorite flattened. Could Boise have defeated a super-talented favorite that wasn't that arrogant?

Virginia Tech won't be caught napping like Oklahoma was...won't be breaking in a lot of newcomers in a road season opener like Oregon was...and brings some unique challenges of their very own.

*Boise's never seen a hard-hitting ball-hawking defense quite like this. Oklahoma SHOULD have been that team, but didn't show up with much intensity. Virginia Tech is going to hit hard...and will bring more torque than any Boise opponent in quite some time.

*Boise's never dealt with an opponent that specializes in special teams the way Virginia Tech does. Blocked punts. Blocked field goals. Big returns. Boise's used to scoring bonus points vs. outgunned WAC weaklings. Now, they're the team that's likely to lose points in this area should an edge make itself present. It's very hard for non-conference opponents who have never seen something like this to deal with it cold the first time.

You can probably tell we're looking forward to this one. Maybe Boise State makes its case as a TRUE national power with an impressive win. Maybe their critics are vindicated when Tech overpowers the Broncos and pick up 7-10 extra points on special teams. Or, maybe the game lands very close to the number...and we're still left wondering what's in store for Boise in 2010.

JIM HURLEY has an opinion here. Be sure you take care of business early on Labor Day because there's a day/night doubleheader in college action (Maryland/Navy kicks things off), and most MLB action is early today for the holiday. Selections can be purchased here at the website. Or, you can sign up for longer term packages and begin your program with tonight's plays. If you'd like some help finding the offer that best suits your needs, call the office at 1-800-323-4453.

We hope you enjoyed the first big weekend of college football action. The NFL gets going this week...with Minnesota/New Orleans Thursday Night on NBC inaugurating the 2010 campaign. That means HUGE cards Saturday and Sunday...and it's time to fasten your seat belts for FOUR FANTASTIC MONTHS of gridiron greatness!

Maybe it's Boise's time to play for a championship. It's always JIM HURLEY'S time. He's been a handicapping champion for more than two decades!

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