This afternoon, we are pleased to have a loyal OBNUG reader give his take on the upcoming Bronco football season.. Stephen Grettenberg, a Boise State football fan for many years, currently works for UC Berkeley for a scholarship program and is also founding a 501c3 organization promoting sustainability. He's contributed breaking news in the past, but this is his first OBNUG article. We're pretty sure you'll love it.
Every year starts with hope for every team in every sport - to reach some new goal, and for some, maybe even a national championship.
In Division I football (yes, I purposely skipped the new nomenclature) it really takes a lot for a non-BCS team to get a chance to play at that level, unlike say Fresno State's bizarre trip to baseball success. Strangely, that victory could help pave the way for Boise State football success by giving the WAC a better profile.
So, here's what I think would need to happen this year to give Boise State a slot in the football national championship game:
- A strong quarterback with leadership and zip on the ball to emerge. Maybe Kellen Moore?
- For Ian to have a strong rebound Heisman candidate year, to add publicity, and votes, to voter ballots. Continued success from the other backs as well.
- Good offensive line play. I respected Sean Kugler, the former offensive line coach for the Broncos, now holding the same position for the Buffalo Bills. With Ryan Clady and a host of seniors gone as well, quality line play is a must and a question mark. Is the coaching and talent there? It has to be to compete at the top level.
- The linebackers have to step up this year.
As for the games:
- USC must embarrass Ohio State. Why? Ohio State is quite likely to take the Big Ten. But if they are embarrassed in this game, nobody will want to see them in another championship.
- Boise State needs to bring its A+ best Fiesta Bowl style of moxie into Autzen Stadium and beat Oregon.
- Oregon needs to beat USC and go undefeated except for the loss to Boise State. This might give Boise an edge over any Pac-10 or Big Ten comers in combination with a USC victory over Ohio State as noted above.
- No more than one team in the BCS leagues can have fewer than two losses except Oregon.
- BYU and Utah can't go undefeated.
- Fresno State needs to go undefeated until getting beat by Boise State in Boise to close out the regular season.
- Boise State goes undefeated in the regular season.
Farfetched? Perhaps, but not wholly inconceivable.
I expect Fresno State and Oregon to both have strong years, especially Oregon. At one point the Ducks were second in the nation last year, and I actually think they could be better this year. I think they could be better than Oklahoma was in the Fiesta Bowl. What would it take to beat Oregon? I think Ian Johnson needs to take control like he did against Oregon State two years ago, for one thing. I think that would open up a chance for the passing game to work on the corners deep, if the safeties were supporting the run up the middle.
Last year, with many "elite teams" losing late in the season, a two-loss team made it to the national championship. Was this a fluke? If that kind of parity came again, it would open the door a little bit, providing a small chance for a team from the WAC or MWC to sneak in. It takes two things for that to happen as well. First that team needs to win out its schedule. The second is that it needs a really strong year from its competition.
This year I think there is a genuine chance for one of these non-BCS teams to run their slate: Boise State, Fresno State, BYU, or Utah. With the right breaks, and a real schedule unlike Hawaii's relatively light one last year, one of these teams could not only go BCS, but beyond.
It is up to Boise State to step up to be worthy of that chance, and leave the rest to fate. If Boise State beat Oregon convincingly in Autzen stadium, one of the toughest stadiums in the country, Boise State might be able to influence fate in its favor.