Media Underestimates Boise State's Chances

To hear some members of the media (both local and national) tell it, Boise State might as well pack it in for this season. The top 10 Broncos, according to some in the media, are destined for the local Humanitarian Bowl. Hold the phone, let's examine the situation.

We college football fans hear all kinds of things in the media--predictions, analysis, predictions, etc. Many of those opinions are well-founded and serve the public well. Occasionally, though, there are things put out there that do a disservice. I would like to point out one such example.

As everyone now knows, Boise State is making its 4th BCS Bowl run in the last five years. The Broncos have a tremendous tradition that goes back over 50 years but that tradition is still fairly new to many in the media.

Last week, I read an article that said Boise State's bowl chances this season are limited to the Humanitarian Bowl, that the BCS Bowl was pretty much out of the question. This for a nationally-ranked top 10 team!

Many media accounts said that Utah's victory over TCU last week was a serious blow to Boise State's BCS Bowl hopes. I believe that to be an inaccurate statement, seriously underestimating Boise State's possibilities. Here's why.

Utah's Thursday win over TCU (13-10) may have actually helped the Broncos' chances. Had TCU won, many believed the Horned Frogs would have jumped Boise. The chances of BYU beating Utah are far greater than TCU losing another game. The game between the two Mountain West Conference powers certainly didn't deliver a "big blow" to Boise State.

First, there is no way to know what voters will do in the remaining four weeks prior to bowl selections. There is a lot of football to be played. If Utah wins but struggles in those two games, voters could punish them in the polls, moving Boise State ahead of them. It is possible that Utah will finish ahead of Boise State in the final BCS Standings but not a certainty.

The second point regarding the discounting of Boise State by the media is that there is and has been a very clear path for Boise State to the BCS. Because there are two dominant conferences right now in college football (The SEC and Big 12), it is a very real battle for the other spots in the five major bowl games. The rules are easy to understand—each conference can only place a maximum of two teams in those ten slots, six conferences (The SEC, Big 12, Big 10, Pac-10, ACC and Big East) get automatic berths and a team has to be rated in the top 14 of the final BCS Standings to be considered for an at-large berth. Further, the two top-rated teams in the final BCS Standings will meet in the national championship game.

The Big 10, ACC, Big East and Pac-10 are extremely weak this year. Of those four conferences which receive an automatic berth in the BCS, only the Big 10 has a real chance of landing two teams into the big bowls. Because of this, if 1)Oregon State loses one of its remaining three games and 2) either Penn State or Ohio State lose, Boise State would be in line for a BCS Bowl. In this scenario, the Broncos' chances not only are not "unlikely" but rather highly likely.

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