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Poll watch: Where will Broncos finish in the AP poll? Where will they start the 2010 season?

Not long after tonight's national championship game between Alabama and Texas, AP voters will fill out their final poll, and Boise State is expected to earn its highest ranking in school history. How high will the Broncos be?

Perhaps more importantly, how high will they start next year in the preseason poll? Boise State's strong 2009 could lead to a historic 2010. After the jump, let's debate both questions and discuss how the Broncos will fare in the upcoming polls.

Where will the Broncos finish in the final AP poll?

There is expected to be little controversy in the AP poll over who will be voted No. 1 following tonight's Alabama-Texas game. Despite tonight's winner and Boise State both being 14-0, the Broncos will not be No. 1 tomorrow. Feel free to complain in the comments.

Here's something to chew on: If tonight's game is ugly, could Boise State steal a couple of No. 1 votes?

The bigger question is if Boise State can capture the No. 2 spot. Here is a look at the AP Top Ten and how they fared during bowl season.

  1. Alabama
  2. Texas
  3. TCU, lost to Boise State
  4. Cincinnati, lost to Florida
  5. Florida, beat Cincinnati
  6. Boise State, beat TCU
  7. Oregon, lost to Ohio State
  8. Ohio State, beat Oregon
  9. Georgia Tech, lost to Iowa
  10. Iowa, beat Georgia Tech

The fact that the Broncos are one of only two undefeated teams sadly does not guarantee their finishing no worse than No. 2. This is still college football, so you have to suspend reality in some cases. Boise State will be competing with Florida and the loser of tonight's title game for spots 2 through 4. Conceivably, Boise State could go 14-0 and finish the season ranked fourth in the country.

Will it happen? What do you think? I would say the odds are greater that Florida stays ahead of Boise State rather than the title game loser topping the Broncos, especially if the loser is Texas. If Alabama falls in a close game, the Crimson Tide might be able to stay on top of BSU.

My prediction: No. 3. Though it kills me inside to even think of it, I simply do not trust college football voters to make a rational decision when it comes to ranking non-BCS teams. Florida's win was impressive, but so was Boise State's. The evidence is clear. However, I think that Tim Tebow love and personal biases will get in the way of doing the right thing. We'll see.

Where do you think Boise State will be ranked in the final poll? What reasons are there to vote them lower than No. 2? Is Florida deserving of a higher spot than Boise State?

Where will the Broncos start in the 2010 preseason poll?

There are two schools of thought on this one: Mine and everyone else's. Let's start with everyone else.

Everyone else's school of thought

The consensus nationwide is that Boise State will start the season in the Top Ten of next year's preseason poll - and that is being conservative. A couple of places have the Broncos at No. 2, and many more have them beginning in the Top Five.

The reasons are obvious: Boise State returns 21 of 22 starters off a team that has only lost one game in two years. Those are the kinds of facts that voters love to consider when they are writing up their preseason predictions.

My school of thought

Boise State started No. 14 in the preseason poll this year, which was the highest ranking ever for a non-BCS team. I have a hard time believing that voters are so forward-thinking as to drastically improve that number. A ranking of No. 10 would be great. A ranking of No. 5 would blow my mind. Either would come as a big surprise to me.

In my view, there are a lot of hurdles that the Broncos will have to overcome to make good on the Top Ten prediction. There is the annual preseason darling that voters rank way too high; there are the tradition-rich programs that get top rankings seemingly by default. But perhaps most importantly, there is the seven-month wait between now and preseason voting, which is more than enough time for the Boise State goodwill from the Fiesta Bowl to wane. A lot can happen between now and August, and as we witnessed with the Oregon win, voters have short memories.

Where do you think the Broncos will be when the preseason rankings come out? Can they crack the Top Ten? How about the Top Five? Am I way too cynical to think that anything lower is even a possibility? Does the final AP poll mean anything when it comes time for the preseason poll? Share your thoughts in the comments.