Looking ahead to 2010: Is a Boise State season opener against Virginia Tech a good idea?

BSU-VT

In the afterglow of Boise State's Fiesta Bowl win, a lot of attention has already turned toward the Broncos' national championship aspirations in 2010. The Statesman and Press-Tribune covered it today. I covered it on Monday. No doubt we'll be talking about it plenty more on this site over the next eight months.

A big reason for the title hopes is the Broncos' improved schedule, based largely on the fact that Virginia Tech is on it. The BSU-VT game could be one of college football's best, but does it benefit Boise State to play the game on opening weekend? What are the pros and cons of moving it from October 2 to Labor Day? Share your thoughts in the comments, and find out some reasons for each side after the jump.

The facts

Courtesy of the Boise State athletics website, the Broncos' 2010 nonconference schedule looks like this:

  • September 11, vs. Toledo
  • September 18, at Wyoming
  • September 25, vs. Oregon State
  • October 2, vs. Virginia Tech (FedEx Field, Washington, D.C.)

Now according to BSU athletic director Gene Bleymaier and WAC commish Karl Benson, Virginia Tech and Boise State are trying to move the game to Labor Day, Monday, September 6.

"They wanted us to play Monday night and then come home and play Saturday and we’re not going to do that," Bleymaier said. "We would have to move our Toledo game. ESPN is going to have to help us move it because Toledo is not just going to move it for us. … If they can make all the changes, we’re fine with it on Monday night of Labor Day weekend."

Final word on the decision should come in the next 30 days.

Reasons for moving the game to opening weekend

  • More national exposure. While the October 2 game is sure to be a made-for-TV hit, a Labor Day night showdown has already been guaranteed for ESPN's prime-time showcase. Boise State's Thursday opener this year against Oregon was a featured game on the WWL, but it aired at 10:00 ET after a lead-in from an SEC-ACC snoozer. The Broncos would have the ESPN stage all to themselves on Labor Day night, and with the NFL season still a week away from kickoff, BSU would have the football spotlight all to themselves.
  • Early season momentum. Playing Virginia Tech early gives the Broncos the same momentum boost that the Oregon game provided this year. If Boise State does indeed start in the preseason Top Ten, a first-week win like this would give immediate credibility to that ranking.
  • Break up Boise State's toughest games. As the schedule stands now, Oregon State and Virginia Tech land on back-to-back weeks, following what could be an opening run of games without a bye. Putting VaTech in the opener allows the Broncos to regroup against some slightly easier teams before Oregon State comes to town.

Reasons for keeping the game in October

  • Avoid the "Oregon Factor." The Broncos' win over Oregon in the season opener this season was supposed to be proof that Boise State belonged with college football's elite. Well the good vibes lasted about a month-and-a-half until the WAC regular season kicked in, Oregon got a lot better, and everyone started discounting or forgetting or belittling the Broncos' win over the Ducks. Opening with Virginia Tech invites the same dilemma against next season. Playing on opening weekend simply gives voters too much time to talk themselves out of the praise and respect they had when the game was originally played.

    On the flip side, playing against Virginia Tech in October would be ideal for rousing up public support of Boise State prior to the mudslinging WAC schedule. The later this game is played, the more likely its impact will be seen in the polls.
  • Keep Toledo where they are. Moving Toledo seems like an easy enough plan, but finding a spot for them could mean breaking up the WAC schedule. Sandwiching Toledo in between dates against San Jose State, Hawaii, and New Mexico State is not exactly going to engender positive reactions when the Broncos' hit that stretch on their schedule.
  • No early season bye. The Broncos and Hokies on opening weekend is contingent on moving BSU's game against Toledo the following week. So Boise State will then have 12 days to prepare for a road trip to Wyoming? If the Broncos are going to have a bye, it might be more prudent to have it in the middle of WAC play or before the Oregon State game.
  • Let the Broncos play the Vandals on opening week. This one is a no-brainer on so many levels. It will pump more excitement into a rivalry that found new legs this year. It will give the entire state of Idaho a touchstone sports topic to discuss all summer long. It will build on the momentum of each school's bowl win. But perhaps the best reason of all is that it will allow the Broncos to face the Vandals when everyone thinks the Vandals are a good team. If Idaho tanks its 2010 season and proves that 2009 was a fluke, at least Boise State will get the game out of the way early and avoid schedule derision later on.

My take

Keep the game on October 2. I think that each of the four reasons I listed for not moving the game state a solid case, and I would even go so far as to say that the No. 1 reason, the "Oregon Factor," is reason enough to keep the game where it is.

But let's look at the reasons for moving the game. More national exposure? Boise State doesn't really need it at this point. Early season momentum? If voters respect the Broncos enough to put them in the preseason Top Ten, then voters will not dock BSU for playing WAC and MAC schools to open the season. Break up Boise State's toughest games? This is the only one I'm buying, but I think that a home-and-away stretch of Oregon State and Virginia Tech is more than manageable for this team.

Your turn

What would you do about the Broncos' game against Virginia Tech? Should BSU move it? Should they keep it where it is? What reasons do you have for your choice? Are there some that I forgot to mention? Share your thoughts in the comments.

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