Which teams should Bronco Nation be rooting for this weekend? Beats us. We can't figure it out. There are way too many of them. Help us, Stephen Grettenberg. You're our only hope.
On the surface, as Boise State prepares to demolish Idaho, there are not as many exciting weekend games, since the only one featuring top 25 teams is Florida at home against South Carolina – and Florida will probably win by twenty points or more. But the weekend does feature a lot of games that are very important to Boise State’s hope for going to the BCS this year – or in future years.
Here are the most important games
(BCS rankings listed):
- No. 11 Ohio State (8-2, 4-1 Big 10) at Illinois (5-4, 3-3 Big 10) 10:00 MT Saturday
Root for Illinois!
Due to a huge fan base and name recognition, Ohio State is the most likely team to get the nod for an at-large bid that otherwise might go to Boise State, unless Ohio State loses. Remember it is dollars, not fairness, that drives big bowls. Illinois surprised Ohio State last year and earned themselves a BCS bowl by upsetting the Buckeyes.
- No. 7 Utah (10-0, 6-0 MWC) at San Diego St. (1-8, 0-5 MWC) 6:00 MT Saturday
Root for San Diego State!
Okay, so the odds of Utah losing to San Diego State are almost a dim as the odds of Boise State losing to Idaho. But we can dream.
- No. 17 BYU (9-1, 4-1 MWC) at Air Force (8-2, 4-1 MWC) 1:30 pm MT Saturday
Root for Air Force!
This is not so obvious, but it is important. If BYU won here, and again at Utah, then they could be MWC champions (possible three way tie with TCU/BYU/Utah), and a lot of people are aware the MWC is a damn tough conference this year with its champion worthy of a BCS bowl. They might well be ranked 14th or better, and they might appeal to the Fiesta Bowl more than Boise State does in terms of dollars, regardless of the fact Boise State would have a better ranking and record.
- Cal (6-2, 4-1 Pac 10) at Oregon State (6-3, 4-1 Pac 10) 1:30 pm MT Saturday
Root for California!
Cal, OSU, and USC all have one loss in conference. If USC goes to the Rose Bowl, Boise State would likely be more attractive for an at-large bid for a BCS bowl than CAL or OSU. USC, even with two losses, might be more attractive as an at-large BCS team though. Since OSU has the tie-breaker on USC, we want OSU to lose even more than we want CAL to lose, but both are a threat.
- No. 9 Boise State (9-0, 4-0 WAC) vs. Idaho (2-8, 1-5 WAC) 3:00 MT Saturday
Root for Boise State!
- Arizona (5-3, 3-2 Pac 10) at Oregon (6-3, 4-2 Pac 10) 4:30 MT Saturday
Root for Oregon!
After a season with a lot of disappointments, all three of Boise State’s non-conference opponents won last week. Let’s hope they keep it going, especially Oregon. If Oregon wins out, the Ducks could be ranked, and that would help Boise State with poll voters.
- East Carolina (6-3, 4-1 Conf. USA) at Southern Miss (4-6, 2-4 Conf. USA) 1:00 pm MT Saturday
Root for Southern Miss!
It has been a rough year for perennial bowl team Southern Miss. A win here over their rival East Carolina would improve their profile.
- No. 14 BCS Ball State (9-0, 5-0 MAC) at Miami OH (2-7, 1-4 MAC) 3:00 MT Saturday
Root for Ball State!
While Ball State can’t catch an undefeated Boise State, if they go undefeated and are left out of the BCS it increases demand for a change to the system.
- Six spots are guaranteed to the BCS conference champions.
- The SEC with highly ranked Florida, Alabama, and Georgia should get two teams in the BCS.
- The Big 12 with highly ranked Texas Tech, Texas, Oklahoma, OK State, and Missouri will get two teams in the BCS.
- One team will be the automatic bid non-BCS conference team, most likely Utah, Boise State, or BYU.
- There is one likely "At-Large" Slot for the second best team from either the Big 10, Pac 10, ACC, Big East, or a non-BCS conference.
1. ACC - BCS ranked teams: #16 North Carolina (7-2), #19 Florida State (7-2, still plays Florida), # 24 Wake Forest (6-3). With tough games and a conference championship to go, the second place ACC team should be ranked out of the top 18, should have three or more loses, and should not be in serious BCS bowl contention.
2. Big East - BCS ranked teams: #21 Pittsburgh (7-2), # 22 Cincinnati (7-2). These teams play each other, and are the only two teams with less than three losses, so the second place team will have lost at least three games. The second place Big East team should be ranked out of the top 18, and should not be in serious BCS bowl contention.
3. Pac 10 - BCS ranked teams: #6 USC. The key here is who the conference champion will be. Oregon State, USC, and California all have one loss. OSU beat USC, and USC beat Cal. USC is the only one of these teams without an out of conference loss. If USC is not the conference champion, they still might be in the BCS mix even with a second loss. Should Oregon State win out, they would be in the Rose Bowl no matter what USC does. If both teams win out, Boise State has virtually no chance at an "at-large" bid. If USC went to the national championship, and Cal won out, Cal might be ranked and chosen by the Rose Bowl, again leaving Boise State out of an "at-large" bid.
4. Big Ten - BCS ranked teams: #8 Penn St. (9-1), # 11 Ohio State (8-2), # 15 Michigan State. Iowa did the most to give Boise State a chance for an "at-large" bid by making a Penn State run at the national championship highly unlikely. The Rose Bowl will take the best-ranked available Big 10 team, which probably will be Penn State as the likely conference champion. The problem here is that there are three ranked teams in the Big Ten. Penn State would be conference champion if they win out from here. Most people expect Ohio State would get the "at-large" bid.
5. MWC - BCS ranked teams: #7 Utah (10-0), # 17 BYU, #18 TCU. If Boise State does not get the automatic bid, then a Mountain West team does. There is a slim chance, but a highly unlikely one that an 11-1 MWC team, possibly from a three-way tie, gets an "at large" bid.
6. MAC - BCS ranked teams: #14 Ball State. Ball State could win out, but would not get the nod over an undefeated Boise State. That would add fire to BCS criticism, in the long run to the advantage of all non-BCS conferences. Their chances are very slim at any kind of BCS bowl, but Ball State deserves to be listed for cracking the top 14.
7. WAC - BCS ranked teams: #9 Boise State. It is amazing that Boise State needs help to get in the BCS. They do, though many scenarios could still happen that would place BSU in a BCS game.
So, what does this all mean?
After bowls get replacements from sending teams to the national championship, the pick from remaining teams this year goes in this order: Orange, Fiesta, Sugar. Fiesta, Sugar, Orange
National Championship: Florida vs. Texas Tech
The Orange Bowl: North Carolina vs. Texas Utah
The Fiesta Bowl: Ohio State vs. Utah Texas
The Sugar Bowl: Alabama vs. Cincinnati
The Rose Bowl: Penn State vs. USC
Finally, I found a few interesting articles on BSU’s BCS chances. Enjoy.
- Stewart Mandel thinks the at large bid goes to Ohio State and puts Boise State in a Pac 10 slot in the Poinsetta bowl vs. BYU.
- College Football News by Scout.com figures BYU or Utah might get the automatic bid, and undefeated Boise State gets the Humanitarian Bowl.
- A different Scout article entitled "Media Underestimates Boise State’s Chances" gives a different but somewhat incomplete picture. They suggest a Utah loss is likely, and go on to say Boise State would make the BCS with an Oregon State loss coupled by losses from either Penn State or Ohio State.
- ESPN sees Boise State’s only chance is to pass Utah in the rankings. Unless Utah loses, I don’t see that happening, as they play ranked BYU.
- ESPN’s Mark Schlabach has long been known to think the only good teams are old prestige schools, especially SEC ones. He says that plainly, knocking Utah a bit, and Boise State and Ball State a lot. And I thought Graham Watson was bad!