Last night undefeated Marshall—they of the lowly schedule—finally cracked the rankings in the CFP poll...the poll that will determine which "group of five" team is on the inside track for a New Year's "access" bowl. There was only one problem for the Herd—they debuted one spot lower than another team a tad more familiar with this process—your Boise State Broncos. So, suddenly in the span of 24 hours, WE are Marshall...or more accurately, they are now us. This struggle is all-too-familiar to the Broncos, who toiled for years at the periphery of the national discussion before stringing together a run so dominant that the powers-that-be could no longer ignore them. Even then, the Broncos still had to flirt with near-perfection to gain access to the old BCS system.
So, after being the poster boy for "mid-majors" for a decade and the team that other teams of the same ilk tried most to emulate, Marshall finally got their chance to be Boise State—but "being Boise State" isn't all sunshine and lollipops. For years, Boise State has climbed into the polls, logged big win after big win, only to see their poll position remain unchanged or worse yet, get jumped by idle teams from the power conferences. Poll-watching had become a way of life for the Broncos—so much so, that many were relieved when the weight of expectations were lifted after (finally) a "so-so" year. The weight of trying to remain perfect is crushing, but not moreso than the millstone that is a weak SOS...and Marshall is paying dearly for that as we speak.
Even in Boise State's BCS years, the SOS issue always reared it's head...making Boise State at once a loveable underdog and a unwanted gatecrasher. Know this, however, Marshall's SOS is far worse than anything the Broncos ever brought to the table, in fact, it's not a stretch at all to suggest that at least the top three teams in the MWC Mountain division would be undefeated against the same sched. It's sad too...it's an incredible disservice to this special Marshall team that their schedule is so poor. They deserve better, and they deserve a real test on a bigger stage. But the rules of the game are clear...even if they aren't necessarily fair. "Deserving" has absolutely nothing to do with it, and the irony of a 2-loss Bronco team supplanting an undefeated C-USA team is not lost on me. However, if you expect to see sympathy from Bronco fans, think again. In this game, you control what you can control...and the CFP committee just stacked a couple of boulders on to the backs of our Broncos. Marshall now just has to sit back and hope for more chaos...kinda like we used to. In the CFP poll we may be Marshall, but with turnabout being fair play and all, they now get to be us.