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Putting the Poinsettia Bowl into perspective

There was universal relief when Ball State backed out of playing the Broncos in the Humanitarian Bowl. Now there is universal hyperbole at the prospect of Boise State facing TCU in the Poinsettia Bowl.

"It'll be the fifth-best matchup of the bowl season!"

"It's TCU - one of the highest ranked teams in the nation!"


Get ahold of yourself, everybody.

If the Broncos do indeed end up in the Poinsettia Bowl (let's wait until Sunday to see for sure, okay?), it will be a fun matchup against a good non-BCS team in a big-city bowl game. That's it in a nutshell. Nothing more, nothing less.

Now, people might try making more of the game than is really there because that's what people do. Take this quote from Brian Murphy for instance:

Boise State, which has lobbied hard behind the scenes to play the Horned Frogs, faces its most important game since the Fiesta Bowl two seasons ago.

That game gave the Broncos a national stage. This game will do the less glamorous work of better positioning Boise State in the regional scheme of things.
OK, we're going to stop you right there. The Poinsettia Bowl will be the Broncos "most important game since the Fiesta Bowl two seasons ago"? Inconceivable! It is not even the Broncos' most important game of this season.

That distinction goes to Boise State's game at Oregon. In a game no one thought the Broncos would win, Kellen Moore and the defense upset the Ducks for one of the biggest wins in program history. It was the first road win over a BCS conference school, and it propelled Boise State into the national picture for the rest of the season. Even last year's game against Hawaii could have been bigger than a proposed Poinsettia showdown. Had the Broncos won that Hawaii game, they would have kept their conference championship streak in tact, played a bigger bowl game than the Hawaii Bowl, maybe started the preseason ranked higher, and could have vaulted ahead of Utah based on positioning.

The Poinsettia will be the biggest game since the Fiesta Bowl? Come on. It's not even close.

And don't buy into the hype that a P-Bowl against TCU is going to be the straw that breaks the back of the MWC in Boise's bid to join the conference. Sure it would be nice for the Broncos to prove how good they are against a team from a stronger conference, but if a 12-0 record vs. MWC opponents isn't enough already, then it is hard to see why a 13-0 record would be that much different.

So what if MWC commissioner Craig Thompson said that the Broncos wouldn't go undefeated in the conference? That makes absolutely no difference on whether the MWC would invite Boise State to join. Do you think they are looking to add a team that is already better than every other team in the conference? Of course not.

And so what if Mark May thinks that the Broncos wouldn't stand a chance in the MWC? His voice is one of a thousand that have absolutely no say in what happens to the Broncos on the field or in their conference affiliations. We think that Pat Hill is overrated as a coach, and we do not expect that to add extra significance to Fresno's bowl game this season.

So if a spot in the Poinsettia Bowl is not the Broncos' biggest game of the past two years, and if it is not enormously important to the school's image or chances of getting into the MWC, then what is it?

It's a great opportunity make inroads in a recruiting hotbed.

It's a chance to take some momentum into the offseason.

It's a better reward for an undefeated season than staying at home for a bowl game.

It's the Poinsettia Bowl. Let's not make it a bigger deal than it is.

Read more:
Stakes will be high if the Boise State (sic) plays in the Poinsettia Bowl [Statesman]