If reports out of Virginia are true, Boise State's 2010 schedule is going to be its best yet. But will that be enough to finally get the Broncos consideration for a national championship?
The biggest obstacle in the past decade or so for the Broncos being legitimate championship contenders is that Downy-soft schedule they seem to always have. With Oregon State on board for next season and with Virginia Tech being rumored as the opener, the Broncos now find themselves in uncharted territory. No non-BCS team has been able to break the glass ceiling of national championship consideration yet. Will the 2010 Broncos be the first? Allow me to break it down one game at a a time.
Virginia Tech (FedEx Field, Washington, D.C.)
This game was huge for the Broncos to get on the schedule, as it finally breaks the stereotype that Boise State is unwilling to challenge themselves against nonconference opponents. That alone should help boost their case to be considered among the best in college football. BSU did everything it could to make the 2010 schedule as tough as could be.
The Virginia Tech game could be one of the season's best, too, in all of college football. Both teams are preseason Top 15 candidates this year, and if both live up to their preseason hype, they could go into next season with similar rankings. The Hokies will have quarterback Tyrod Taylor back for his senior season, along with eight projected starters on offense (provided none turn pro early). The defense, which is always a VT specialty, will lose three seniors from the secondary after this year, as well as graduating half of its D-line. It's the offense you worry more about at VaTech, though, so projections in 2010 for the Hokies should be high.
I don't really have anything good to say about Toledo. They're a MAC team. They beat Michigan last year. I guess those are good things. The 2010 version will be breaking in a new quarterback most likely, but they'll be in year two of the Tim Beckman era with a couple of talented players returning at the skill positions. If the Rockets do well in the MAC this year, it will only help the Broncos' cause moving forward toward 2010.
The Cowboys were picked to finish last in the MWC this year at the conference's media days, so I guess they can only go up from there. The good parts of this matchup are that a) it is against a MWC team, which is perceived to be a tougher conference than the WAC, and b) it is on the road - not that Wyoming is a tough place to play, but still.
vs. Oregon State
The jewel in Boise State's schedule crown up until the VaTech announcement, Oregon State visiting Bronco Stadium has shades of 2006 written all over it. The Beavers will provide a good test for the Broncos, but it remains to be seen just how much outsiders will value Boise State hosting a Pac-10 team. A visit to Oregon State would be better, but having the Beavers on the schedule at all should do more help than harm.
Colin Kaepernick will be a senior in 2010, and Nevada could be considered one of the up-and-coming teams in the nation. Or they could completely bomb this year and everyone will forget about them next. We'll see.
vs. Fresno State
The Bulldogs will be settled at quarterback and still have the services of RB Ryan Mathews. 2010 could be a strong year for Fresno State.
vs. Louisiana Tech, vs. Hawaii, @ San Jose State, @ New Mexico State, @ Idaho, vs. Utah State
What can I say? It's a WAC schedule. For the most part, these teams will be as good as they normally are. Utah State might be on the rise by 2010, and LaTech is always a wildcard.
Other mitigating factors:
Boise State should field its best team ever in 2010 - that is, until 2011 rolls around.
The Broncos will need to do well this season in order to set themselves up for a good run at the title in 2010. In other words, the preseason polls will have almost as much to do with Boise State's national championship hopes as will their schedule. Finish high this year, and they're bound to start the season high enough next fall.
Also, what this guy said.
The pieces are in place for a run at a title in 2010, but the realist in me says that it's still a pipe dream for a non-BCS team. The nonconference games versus Toledo and at Wyoming do the Broncos no favors, and there's still that WAC schedule hanging around their necks like a nauseaus albatross. Virginia Tech and Oregon State prove that the Broncos are serious about contending. But in the unfair world of college football, it may not be enough.