How Much of a Threat is Boise State?

With the speculation of a to-be-planned (t'was finalized as I typed this) future home-opener against the Boise State Broncos in the fall of 2011 hitting Rebel message boards, there seems to be a great schism amongst the "bring 'em on," "omg i is skared," and "BRANG BACK DA KERNEL" camps regarding such a possibility the game. On the one hand, they say, we should welcome any and all opponents. Yet, on the other hand, Boise's good and, combined with an SEC schedule, that's a tall order to fill.

Much is made of the Gem State's--yes, Idaho is the Gem State, not the "Potato State"--premier football program, and with good reason. Boise State has, since 1999, amassed a staggering 108-20 record, the best in college football during said timespan. Furthermore, they have established Bronco Stadium as one of the nation's most advantageous home fields, losing there only once over the past five seasons. Ever since their shocking upset of the Oklahoma Sooners in the 2006 Fiesta Bowl, Boise State, along with teams like Utah and TCU, have made names for themselves as smaller-yet-dangerous programs. Their successes have even caused casual football fans, bloggeurs, and mainstream "expert analysts" to seriously question the legitimacy of college football and its championship as we know it.

But, is this realistic?

Let me get this out there: Boise State, Utah, TCU, and other so-called "BCS Busters" are good football programs. They are dangerous, talented, well-coached and undeniably capable of beating the Oklahomas and Alabamas of the college football universe. But they are not the world-beating, paradigm-shifting, perennially underappreciated programs the ESPNs of the world would have you believe.

Let's look at Boise State over the past aforementioned decade--the most successful of such in college football, remember--and see how much BCS they're actually busting.

As stated previously, Boise State has won 108 games and lost 20 since 1999. Of those 128 football games, 17 have come against BCS opponents. Of those 17 games, a mere 13% of Boise's schedule (which seems about right when you consider their one BCS game a year outside of bowl games against non-TCU opponents), Boise has won six. Yes, they are therefore a paltry 6-11 against BCS opponents in their decade of prominance. Those sixwins came when, against, where, and to the scores of:

  • 2003, Iowa State in Boise, 34-16 (Humanitarian Bowl)
  • 2004, Oregon State in Boise, 53-34
  • 2006, Oregon State in Boise, 42-14
  • 2007, Oklahoma in Tempe (Fiesta Bowl), 43-42 OT
  • 2008 Oregon in Eugene, 37-32
  • 2009 Oregon in Boise, 19-8 (Lagarette Blount'd!)

Notice, that out of those six wins, only two came when Boise State wasn't actually playing in Bronco Stadium, both being very close contests. Granted, I am still impressed with anybody who can beat Oregon in Eugene (which is, per a friend of mine who played Pac-10 football, "the most intimidating stadium on the west coast"); but beating Oklahoma in a BCS bowl isn't that spectacular, especially when it's a 9-3 Oklahoma team you need fourth-quarter heroics and the wackiest plays in the book to squek by in overtime.

Now, their BCS losses over the same timespan and in identical fashion:

  • 1999, UCLA in Los Angeles, 7-38
  • 2000, Arkansas in Little Rock, 31-38
  • 2000, Washington State in Pullman, 35-42
  • 2001, South Carolina in Columbia, 13-32
  • 2001, Washington State in Boise, 20-41
  • 2002, Arkansas in Little Rock, 14-41
  • 2003, Oregon State in Corvalis, 24-26
  • 2005, Georgia in Athens, 13-48
  • 2005, Oregon State in Corvalis, 24-26
  • 2005, Boston College in Boise, 21-27 (MPC Computers Bowl)
  • 2007, Washington in Seattle, 10-24

While it is very important to note that Boise has not lost to a BCS school since 2007, it is also fair to demonstrate that Boise State hasn't been the party crashing thorn in the BCS' collective side we have all been led to believe. This becomes even more evident when viewing their record outside of the very, very friendly atmosphere of the Smurf Turf.

Once again: Boise State is a good football team and a good football program. I would never, ever, ever guarantee our Ole Miss Rebels to defeat anybody on any given gameday and I won't even come close to hinting at a likely Rebel win in this situation. But I will say that, after looking at Boise's record against teams in "superior"--no, fuck those quotation marks--SUPERIOR conferences (0-5 against the SEC so far), I doubt their status as a team deserving of BCS champoinship-level respect.

This is not to suggest a lack of respect for the Broncos. Hell yes I'd have loved to see Boise or TCU play Alabama or Texas for some sort of bizarre national championship (last season's Fiesta Bowl was panned by the blogosphere as the "Separate but Equal Bowl") and hell yes I think there's more than a little to be said about multiple consecutive 10-win seasons, regardless of the conference. But, no, Boise State does not send me quaking in my boots. They will be a worthy, well-coached, and ready opponent who will provide a thrilling, nationally televised home season-opener for the first time I can remember.

I am personally incredibly excited about this game. Thank you, Pete Boone... Wow, that was tough to type.

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