The Broncos escaped Fresno with a win. Is that as tough as it gets for Boise State from here on out?
I'll weigh in with my take after the jump, but I want to hear what you think, too. Share your thoughts in the comments.
Contrary to popular belief, beating Fresno by 17 points is not the end of the world, especially when BYU loses to Florida State, Utah loses to Oregon, and TCU gets in a dogfight with Texas State. The Bulldogs might have been one of the toughest teams Boise State faces all season long.
What do you think? Who is tougher from here on out? Here are some thoughts from me.
Based on ranking/projection
- Tulsa 30 Sagarin 57 FEI
- Bowling Green 60 69
- Hawaii 66 80
- San Jose State 74 103
- Nevada 79 86
- LaTech 98 79
- Utah State 100 111
- Idaho 136 120
- UC Davis 152
- NMSU 187 119
I think that the WAC is heavily discounted in the rankings, and a conference game for the Broncos will not be as easy as a nonconference opponent taking on a WAC team (like Colorado State vs. Nevada, perhaps?). Still, Tulsa and Bowling Green are two of the Broncos' next three opponents, and Boise State has some stuff to work on.
At the same time, Tulsa got shutout this weekend, and Bowling Green lost to Marshall. So ... there's that to consider.
Based on running backs
Boise State struggled to tackle RB Ryan Mathews on Friday night. Here is a look at the teams with the best running backs that Boise State will face the rest of the season.
There simply aren't many great running backs left on the Broncos' schedule. There are some good ones. There are not many really good ones.
Porter is probably the toughest, and Taua can be a handful. Woolridge is a stretch and doesn't have much of a body of work. The rest of the teams on the Broncos' schedule don't really have anyone of note.
Based on road games
Boise State looked disjointed on the road in Fresno. Here are the toughest road trips the Broncos have left.
- Louisiana Tech
- Bowling Green
- Utah State
Tulsa and Hawaii are really a toss up for me. The Warriors have looked decent this season and always seem to play tough at home. Tulsa is kind of an unknown for the Broncos. Louisiana Tech, which was thought to be a tough game this offseason, doesn't seem so daunting considering LaTech's slow start.
Based on pass rush
Kellen Moore had very little time to throw for most of the game. Here are pass rushes that pose the most trouble for BSU from here on out.
- San Jose State
Nevada's Dontay Moch and Kevin Basped get a lot of attention for not being the worst part of the Nevada defense. Those two are actually pretty good, and they managed to pressure Moore quite a bit last season when the two teams met.
San Jose State always brings a solid defense, especially its pass rush. One of the Ihenacho brothers has routinely been listed with the WAC's best
Based on record
- Tulsa 2-1
- Hawaii 2-1
- Idaho 2-1
- Bowling Green 1-2
- LaTech 1-2
- New Mexico State 1-2
- Nevada 0-2
- Utah State 0-2
- San Jose State 0-3
Idaho's 2-1 record is more a product of actually beating the terrible teams on their schedule, rather than being good. Still, 2-1 is 2-1, especially in Moscow. Bowling Green looked good in a loss to ranked Missouri. LaTech's only win was over a I-AA team, so too NMSU. The best looking 0-2 team might be Utah State, who hung with Utah and played Texas A&M to within one score. San Jose State, too, has looked better than its 0-3 record, and they should clean up on some easy WAC competition.
Based on preseason projections
- Nevada. Picked by some to upset the Broncos. Picked by crazy people as a darkhorse BCS contender.
- Tulsa. Thought to be one of the most exciting non-BCS teams.
- Louisiana Tech. Seen as much-improved, dangerous, and well-coached.
My final list of toughest remaining games
- Louisiana Tech
- San Jose State
What does your final list look like? Mine weighs heavily on tough road games. I think there is an aspect to playing on the road that helps level talent gaps between teams. I do believe that Fresno was the toughest opponent left on Boise State's schedule at this point. However, there are a handful of teams that could get hot by the time BSU plays them.
Who do you think will be toughest from here on out? Share your thoughts in the comments.