EAST LANSING, MI - AUGUST 31: Bryan Douglas #1 of the Boise State Broncos reacts after causing a third quarter fumble while playing the Michigan State Spartans at Spartan Stadium on August, 2010 in East Lansing, Michigan. Michigan State won the game 17-13. (Photo by Gregory Shamus/Getty Images)
According to many of the best and brightest (and loudest) college football minds - including that of ESPN's Rod Gilmore with his Friday night announcing soapbox - Boise State's BCS chances hinged on defeating Michigan State. If the Broncos were to lose the season opener against the Spartans, the likelihood of BSU going BCS bowling would be zero. Well, Boise State lost. So now what?
If you believe the Gilmores of the world, the Broncos' sorry schedule will keep them from climbing back into the BCS picture.
But if you know how the BCS works and how history happens, then you know Boise State is still very much alive for a BCS bowl.
The velvet rope into the BCS for teams in non-BCS conferences has very simple requirements:
- Win your conference
- Be ranked at least No. 16 with a BCS-conference champion ranked behind you
Do those things and a BCS bowl has to take you.
So how hard is it to do those things?
First off, Boise State must win the rest of its games. Not only will winning the rest of its games seal the requisite conference championship, but it will also keep the Broncos moving up in the Top 25.
Second, keep moving up in the Top 25.
This is the sticking point that pundits and haters will point to when they insist that Boise State won't make a BCS bowl, and yes, climbing from fringe Top 25 to Top 15 is no easy task. But there are 11 games left to do the climbing and plenty of college football carnage left to happen. Plus, there is precedent. Here is a list of the one-loss non-BCS teams from the past five years and where each finished in the final regular season BCS standings.
- 2011: No. 7 Boise State 11-1
- 2011: No. 18 TCU 10-2
- 2011: No. 19 Houston 12-1
- 2010: No. 10 Boise State 11-1
- 2010: No. 15 Nevada 12-1
- 2008: No. 22 Ball State 12-1
You can throw out 2011 Houston and 2008 Ball State as bad examples because those two teams lost their final regular season game - the exact opposite, from a momentum standpoint, of what Boise State hopes to do.
Compare instead to 2010 Nevada whose sole loss was to Hawaii. Or look at last year's TCU team, which had two losses by October 1 before running the table the rest of the way. Non-BCS teams, especially ones that are veterans of winning, will climb in the rankings so long as they time their losses right.
And finally, the one element of this BCS race that is out of Boise State's control is that a BCS-conference champion must finish below the Broncos. This means you, Big East (it could also mean the ACC, but No. 7 Florida State makes it less likely).
Note: Boise State could render this rule obsolete if the Broncos get as high as No. 12 in the BCS standings.
So with this blueprint in mind, does a BCS game seem impossible? Of course not. The Broncos control most of their destiny the rest of the way, and as Chris Petersen would tell you, "Things have a way of working themselves out."
We are a long way from December. When we get closer, everyone - Rod Gilmore and friends included - could be singing a different tune.