It happens only once, maybe twice a year: Armageddon Saturday. Upset Weekend. The Great Ranking Debacle of the Year. This weekend may have been the beginning of the assistance Boise State needs in order to position itself into a possible date with the NCG, seeing as the college football viewing public was treated to the start of some good upsets. Follow the jump to see how things may shake out.
The Fans Are Hypercritical (pt. 1)
Ah, the Broncos win, but we as the fans were shaking in our boots as we go all Coach Pete and overanalyze the boys in blue down to the microscopic level. Relax folks, after watching the little non-AQ roundup on SportCenter U, I don't think the national media or the coaches are going to be overly concerned with the details of how Boise State won a game against Toledo 57-14.
The game was broadcast on the wac sports network (memo to wsn: capital letters in your abbreviation are not given, they are earned - get better quick), not ESPN or ABC, so there will be little dissection done to this game by the national media. Only the headline counts in this game: Boise State Beats Toledo 57-14. Turn the page to next week.
The thing we need to keep in mind is that revision over games like this are given the quick glance. Score, stat lines, game over. There is a problem with the quick glance that I'll highlight later. Nevertheless, when a NCG slot is on the line, all that will matter is 13-0, and that should be all we need.
Granted, Kirk Herbstreit riled our fanbase up this way by making the statement during the VA Tech game that Boise State needed "style points" to receive consideration. Once again, Herbie fooled us by making us believe that he turned his opinion around about the Broncos, but as Leonard Shelby once opined: "Don't Believe His Lies". The argument just turned around to deter criticism of his commentary, but I'm not so easily fooled. We can't get caught up with the style argument, because no matter how BSU wins, we knew at the beginning of the season that they will only rise if others fall, which brings me to...
We as the fans love our team, but we might have to learn how to loosen up and let the events surrounding Boise State shake out. When the season started, the expectations were high, but most of the public was in the camp of believing that the Broncos would get jumped at one or several points during the season. The #3 ranking kept our aspirations lofty, but following the VT game, the chatter turned to whether our boys belong in the Championship Game without giving thought to the AQ teams breathing down our necks just waiting for the opportunity to leapfrog us.
The Oregon jump received so much outcry throughout the media that it seems unlikely that the voters would pull the same stunt the week after, but Alabama's loss changed the equation for how the rankings will shake out. Don't be surprised if Nebraska pulls the leapfrog. The voters will be less likely to drop Boise from number 4, but nothing indicates they will raise their ranking at this point in time.
The outlook comes down to this: Boise State will only get into the top two in the last three weeks of the season, and only if AQ teams beat each other senseless. The voters have a problem with ranking an undeserving team Nos. 1 or 2 because the precedent has been set by saying those two teams are the ones deserving to be in the game. The prevailing thinking goes that at No. 1 or 2 team cannot move if they don't lose, so whomever occupies those spots are in the driver's seat the rest of the way. No voter will put Boise State there until they're certain they belong. They still are wiping egg off their collective faces following ranking Boise Number One and dropping them the following week.
Alabama Loses and the Only Clear Winner is Ohio State
The fun thing about an Armageddon Saturday is seeing how the rankings shake out when a Number One loses and several other ranked teams receive an upset. We can safely assume that after dispatching Indiana (I thought they only played basketball in that state, and it shows), Ohio State is locked in at the top spot. But who is the Number Two team this week?
Oregon may have leapfrogged Boise State last week, but they may find themselves knowing the same feeling if I have anything to say about it. That's because in my imaginary Top 25 poll, I put Nebraska at the 2-spot. Why is that? I would have loved to give Boise State the leapfrog, but I do believe at this point that Nebraska has LOOKED more impressive than the Ducks in recent weeks (granted, other than K-State, Nebraska's resume is weaker than a high school senior trying to apply for the CEO position at Microsoft and that makes it hard NOT to look impressive when you play Idaho, Washington and a handful of cupcakes). Oregon, on the other hand, looked fairly ugly for three quarters against Wazzu. As the son of a Cougar alumnus, I have to hold to the "moral victory" card and say that Oregon lost in this one by giving up 23 to the Cougs. As I see it, the Ducks have had slow starts in conference games, and that will end up biting them later when they have to face UCLA, Cal, USC and Oregon State.
Like I said above, Boise State is not going to rise above undefeated AQ schools at the end of the season, so I won't pretend to give the Broncos false hope. This all leads back to the issues of preseason rankings. I love the Broncos, but I thought it was unfair to them to rank the team is such a lofty position only to have them passed over later in the season. Poll correction is an ugly excuse, and it's only further proof of a broken system.
Armageddon is a Long Process
Armageddon Saturday takes on many forms throughout the course of a season. This week, it was not only losses by Alabama, Arizona, Michigan, Florida, Miami (The U, not the Ohio) and, to a lesser extent, Northwestern, but narrow escapes by teams such as Auburn (37-34 vs. Kentucky - yes, basketball is our only real sport, Kentucky), Stanford ("owning" the Trojans by the most narrow of margins since 2007), and LSU (see: Florida) tell us that there are still teams primed to go down quick.
Auburn got lucky and will need to play better if they have any hope of beating the Crimson Tide, Stanford is good, but not great, and when it comes to LSU, Les Miles can only shake hands with the devil for so long before God decides to correct the universe and smite him.
As for Ohio State, I'm not convinced they have played anyone of note (yes, I'm looking at you Miami Hurrican'ts) and they have upset written on their schedule at least twice this season. Lucky for them that they don't have to face Michigan State, because they look hot and Sparty likes to party.
'Bama escaped from Arkansas, but lightning struck this time with South Carolina taking the Tide to the woodshed. Again, say what you want about the SEC, but those teams know how to play against each other and will take every opportunity to whoop up on the others. At this rate, there is no clear idea on how the SEC title game will shake out and if the Tide get left out, they can say goodbye to their title hopes.
What All This Means to Boise State
After the dust settles from this weekend, the Broncos will be in no worse position from where they were before, but nothing indicates they will be in a better spot either. Herbie says Alabama will only fall to 5, but I say they go to 8. Here's how I see the Top 10:
1 - Ohio State
2 - Oregon (stream of conciousness is correcting my earlier statements)
3 - Boise State
4 - TCU
5 - Nebraska
6 - Oklahoma
7 - Auburn
8 - Alabama
9 - LSU
10 - Utah
Why I ranked this way: The Top 5 move up on attrition. Oklahoma did nothing, so they don't move a muscle. Auburn didn't look good (again), but the laws of attrition hold and the same division, better record argument is why they come in ahead of the laundry detergent. LSU doesn't leapfrog based on the common opponent argument, and Utah receives no reward for playing against Iowa State, much less beating them. Karma is a bitch, ain't she?
I changed my thoughts on Nebraska because I convinced myself that they haven't played anybody yet and their win against K-State, in retrospect, didn't look that much better than Oregon's win over Stanford. All is right in my head again. However, that scenario still may play out if voter bias and recent precedent is any indication.
The Toledo game was still great, even if the defense looked less stingy and more opportunistic. No points may have been won after this one, but since nobody is taking us under the microscope and the media outlets have thrashed the voters over the Oregon debacle, they don't lose any spots either. There may even be a few voters providing us some No. 1 votes in the process (other than Pete DiPrimo). All in all, Armageddon is our friend, and we must pray for more doom to come. Go Beavers, Hokies, Rockets and those who battle against the BCS!
I just saw the James Rodgers injury. That was something ugly and I hope he isn't out for the season as some seem to indicate. All of Boise wishes you well James, the Beavers are worse off without you.
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