My beef this weeks is with people arguing against Boise State’s No. 3 ranking in the AP polls.Funny thing is, I used to be one of those people.




When I had the idea for this article it was because I had a beef with Boise State being ranked so high. I believed, like many others, that if Boise State didn’t have a good opponent on its schedule, then it didn’t deserve to be in the national championship. If they were to play the top teams in the SEC or Big 12, they would get their butts handed to them as badly as if they were the 2008 Detroit Lions playing the 1972 Dolphins. I still believe, even as you read these words, that Boise State would lose to the top teams in college football.




So why do I think they should have the right to play for the national championship (if they go undefeated, that is)?




Well, I figured there had to be a reason that Boise State isn’t playing the Alabamas and Floridas of the world. After all, Boise knows better than anyone that they can’t make a BCS title game without playing high-caliber teams.




Why play the losers of the college football world year in and year out?


The fact of the matter is that Boise State doesn’t want to have a cupcake schedule. They are hungry to play the best teams in college football.




You would think some of the relatively cocky, traditional powerhouses would jump at the opportunity to put a mid-major like Boise State back in its place, but they don’t. In fact, it seems as if they’re afraid of the former junior college.


Boise State Athletic Director Gene Bleymaier has said publicly, loudly and clearly that the Broncos will play anybody, anytime, anywhere. Yet, no program is returning his calls. The main reason seems to be that teams in the big conferences don’t see any reason to. They already have tough opponents to play within their conferences, so why challenge themselves further?




If a major conference team beats everyone on its schedule, history shows that that team is a virtual lock for the national championship, as only one undefeated team from a major conference – Auburn in 2004 – has failed to make the national championship game in the BCS era.




Even one or two losses can get a major conference team into the championship game. With that in mind, these teams figure that they might as well just throw in cupcake nonconference teams that are willing to get beaten down just to get some exposure.


The inability to get tough nonconference opponents puts Boise State between a rock and a hard place. They’re left crushing teams in their conference, yet they don’t get the chance to prove themselves against top-notch teams on the biggest stage.


Last year was especially frustrating for Boise State. Even though they beat Oregon – a team that went on to play in the Rose Bowl – and even though their average margin of victory was 26.5 points, and even though they finished a perfect 13-0, the Broncos were left playing another unproven team, TCU, in the Fiesta Bowl.




They won that clash 17-10, making them the only other undefeated team in Division I aside from Alabama. How is it fair to shut out a team that went unbeaten and did everything it could to prove itself in the national championship?


But this year may be the Broncos’ time to shine. They started the season off with what was supposed to be a big game against Virginia Tech, who came into the season ranked 10th.




Despite going down 17-0 early, the Hokies fought back and made it a close game, but the Broncos ended up winning the game 33-30. With Virginia Tech – Boise’s strongest opponent on its 2010 schedule – behind them, the Broncos looked well on their way to an undefeated season and an appearance in the national championship game.




Then, Virginia Tech lost to James Madison the following week, a Division 1-AA school. Virginia Tech not only killed its flickering national championship hopes, but also may have squandered Boise State’s chances of a title berth. Boise State’s strength of schedule went down dramatically and now with the exception of Oregon State on Saturday, they have no tough opponents left.




As if the Hokies didn’t hurt Boise’s chances enough, Alabama and Ohio State are looking as if they’ll both go undefeated. Both have experienced players and neither team has shown much weakness so far.


And here’s the dilemma: If Alabama doesn’t lose, if Ohio State doesn’t lose – heck, if most teams in any major conference don’t lose – they’ll probably have a better shot at a national championship bid than Boise State.




Boise just joined a growing Mountain West Conference with members like BYU, TCU and Utah, but it seems as if that won’t help them much. Despite its powerful teams, the MWC still doesn’t have an automatic BCS bowl bid, even though it’s arguably stronger than both the ACC and the Big East, whose champions automatically get a spot in one of the BCS bowls.


Prejudice against smaller conferences has been going on for some time now; Boise State isn’t the first team to have its growth limited by the BCS. Before Boise came Utah, and before Utah came Marshall. Other non-BCS teams like TCU, BYU, Tulane and Hawaii have asserted themselves as contenders during the BCS era, but like Boise State, they have all all been pushed aside and put in one of the less prominent bowl games.




Up until the 2004-2005 season, when Utah crashed the BCS party and won the Fiesta Bowl, no non-BCS team had made it to a BCS bowl game. Before that game, including Utah that year, three non-BCS teams had finished the season undefeated in the BCS era. Since then, three more have. But none of them have been given a shot at the national title.


In the established sport of college football and in all sports, it’s tough to be a newcomer. Precedent constantly seems to overcome rationality and logic. People have been calling for a playoff system for some time, but it doesn’t seem as if that will be coming anytime


soon, either.




This Broncos team is the best chance that minor conferences have to be recognized as legitimate. They can change the college football landscape if they go undefeated, and hopefully the BCS will let them play in the title game and give them their rightful chance to do so.

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