Thanks to the power of ESPN this tweet made the rounds to stir up conversation in these dark, dark days of non-college football season:
Which is REALLY awesome. Being mentioned in the same sentence as Power 5 schools such as those is a great accomplishment and a testament to the consistency that Boise State has been lucky to have. Boise State people already knew this, but the base is SPOILED. Averaging eleven wins over a decade?! What is Boise State Football?! Awesome?! (Answer: yes)
But wait. What is this? Doth thou mention Boise State football in a positive manner?
@ESPNStatsInfo Who had the toughest schedule out of those on the list over the last 10 years?— Dalton Harvey (@RoadTooSixteen) May 26, 2015
Well, boo. I guess SOMEONE has to ask the tough questions. So suppose SOMEONE has to answer. So I decided to take a look. Using the Jeff Sagarin/USA today rankings I have compiled the strength of schedule rankings from the past decade. Drum roll please?
(EDIT: Writer erroneously included 2004 in the initial table. To more accurately reflect 10 years, 2004 has been deleted and the averages recalculated.)
Frankly, we are not looking at anything we do not already know. The schedule could be better (read: SHOULD be better). As such, Boise State people have been battling the dreaded strength of schedule argument for the past decade. We can assume that this will not go away. Ever. TCU and Baylor felt the sting last year to great effect. Their schedule cost both of them an opportunity to participate in the inaugural College Football Playoff.
As for the other teams on the list, seems pretty standard. Oklahoma with the best does not surprise me. Ohio State, though, has had quite the few clunkers as far as strength goes, even while being in the B1G. They have a pretty interesting outlier in 2005 with the second best schedule. Excluding Boise State and TCU, every other team has had a single digit schedule rank at least twice. Is it a surprise that Ohio State has the worst strength of schedule for a P5 school (TCU notwithstanding)?
The positive for Boise State: the schedule has gotten a boost from being in the MWC. Three of the best years, schedule-wise, have been while residing in the MWC. Course, the one negative is having the worst year. Curiously enough the 2012 season had Michigan State and BYU (the 7-6 slugfest), but was weighed down by heavy-hitters such as Miami (OH) and Southern Mississippi. The forecast for this upcoming season seems more 'meh' than anything at this point. Perhaps MWC moving to the two "best" team model for the conference championship would be a benefit. Playing a double-digit winner in Colorado State, or Utah State, would be a much better boost than 6-6 Fresno State. That boost would be tangible and could be the dividing line between another Las Vegas Bowl or a NY6 Bowl.
Despite the questions that always come up when accolades are doled out, we do know this for certain: Boise State wins the games they should and even the ones they, probably, should not. That consistency, and success, rewarded Boise State with benefit of the doubt, and a NY6 bowl game despite two losses. The next step is a crack at the CFP.
Well. Schedule permitting.