Tuesday, December 2, 2008

Fixing Perfection

It turns out that sometimes, perfect just isn’t enough.  Strange as it may sound, that is the harsh reality for the 12-0 Boise State Broncos.  For the 9th ranked perennial Cinderella, the gem of the Gem State, simply taking care of everyone on their schedule likely won’t get them where they want to be.  I can stand up along with the 1,499,401 other Idahoans and complain that a 61-10 exclamation point over a decent Fresno State team should have been enough to catapult the blue-turfers to big stages in Glendale, New Orleans or Miami, but thanks to an undefeated Utah team they will likely head to the conciliation prizes in places such as El Paso, Memphis, San Diego, or even stay home in Boise. 

While much about the BCS seems, nay, is frustrating (quick tangent- Longhorn fans need to be quiet, you are at best the third most screwed over team…they are now guaranteed a BCS bowl berth, unlike Texas Tech WHO BEAT THEM, presumably because Vince Young wore the burnt orange there three years ago.  This could even be a blessing for the Longhorns if Oklahoma is knocked off by Missouri, there is no reason that the Longhorns won’t sneak in the back door to the national championship game… Oh yeah, they also lost more games than Ball State, who will probably end up in something like the Motor City Bowl, make that fourth most screwed... and yet I’m treated to a 48 hour candle light vigil for Colt McCoy’s hopes and dreams on ESPN) the thing that bugs me the most is that Utah has been presumed to be better than Boise State.  The most logical, or least illogical rather, explanation for this is that the Mountain West was better than the WAC this year, and therefore Utah had more quality wins.  But is that really the case? 

The main tenant of the strong Mountain West argument was that it had three BCS contenders, and that Utah therefore had wins over 2.  This is a stretch, at best, BS at worst.  The first of those supposed contenders, TCU, has a record that is solid enough.  Their 2 losses came at the hands of Utah and Oklahoma.  They were dismantled by Oklahoma, but so were plenty of other quality teams, so that can be thrown out.  Other than that, their only tough game was their other loss, a last minute loss to Utah.  The Horned Frogs did knock off a Pac-10 team, but it was a Stanford team that went 5-7, including an eeked out victory against hapless Washington.  TCU was a solid squad, that beat everyone they should have, but it is hard to say that they were a legitimate contender, as they lost both of their games that could be considered a test.

The other so called contender in the MWC was BYU.  They vaulted into the national spotlight after a convincing victory over UCLA, who was coming off of a win over a ranked Tennessee team.  Since then, both Tennessee and UCLA have struggled, and while a dominant win over a Pac-10 team is still impressive, that win doesn’t carry the weight it did at the time.  The next game on BYU’s schedule should retrospectively end any debate over whether or not they can be considered a contender.  Washington was the worst team in the nation this season at 0-11.  The closest they came to winning a game this year was against 2-11 Washington State.  The second closest (which should have been the closest), came against against BYU.  Only the worst penalty call of the 2008 season, an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty on Jake Locker for throwing the ball into the air, leading to a missed extra point, was able to save the Cougars.  While the stripes saved the game for BYU, they managed to get beat on the field by the worst of 119 D-1 college football teams, something no other team managed to do.  This would not have happened to a good team, and is the end of legitimate discussion of BYU as an actual contender.

Having debunked the myths that TCU and BYU were legitimate contenders, the Mountain West, and indeed the rest of Utah’s pedigree look considerably weaker, especially compared to Boise State’s.  The WAC wasn’t a terrible conference, and will have 6 bowl eligible teams, compared to 5 from the Mountain West.  Out of conference, Boise was able to knock off an Oregon team, handing the 19th ranked Ducks their only loss in Eugene.  Boise also knocked off a bowl bound Bowling Green team that beat Pittsburgh at Heinz Field, and handled bowl bound Southern Miss on the road.  Out of conference, Utah’s marquee win came against Oregon State, who lost to the Oregon team that Boise beat.  The Michigan win looked good at the time, but looks much less impressive on the tail end of a 3-9 season for the maize and blue in a shaky Big 10.  Looking at all of that, Boise’s thorough domination against a good Fresno team should catapult them ahead of Utah, who was only able to dominate like that against the dregs of the MWC and WAC. 

Alas, as painfully obvious as it becomes when examined properly, Utah is presumed to be a better team by an ignorant polling system, and therefore will go into the BCS.  So what is left for Boise State?  Many people are calling for a matchup of the non-BCS undefeateds. Unfortunately, playing Ball State in Boise, as some have suggested, has absolutely no upside for the Broncos. 

Ball State has the weakest schedule of any top 25 team, and has struggled a number of times in an embarrassingly weak MAC.  Even if Ball State was on the same level as Boise, as they most assuredly are not, Boise State would have nothing to gain by playing them in a bowl game.  Boise will be presumed to be the class of the non-BCS, non at large teams.  The Broncos have proved this over the past (half) decade, by continuously finishing with less than 4 losses, and perennially challenging for an at large BCS bid, even if they have only received one.   That leaves nothing to prove against a team that allowed 22 points to the fourth best team in the state of Michigan (the Detroit Lions are just behind Western in 5th).  So if not Ball State in the H Bowl, then where should Boise go?  I’m glad you asked.

There is one obvious matchup that has been overlooked.  Boise needs to play a BCS conference school in order to prove anything.  Further, beating a four or five loss team won’t turn any heads.  Ordinarily it would be difficult for a mid major to draw a team like this, as there would be little for the big school to prove.  Luckily, they have established themselves as a program against which a point can be made.  They are not like Ball State, for which a BCS team would receive little credit if they knocked off, despite their undefeated record.  Luckily, there is a one loss team with something to prove, from a BCS conference.

Why not pit the two best offensive minds in college football circa 2008?  The answer is that there is no reason.  It would be a crime against football fans everywhere if Boise State didn’t go up against Texas Tech in a bowl this year.  This game would have every appeal.  First of all, it would essentially be a BCS game.  Both teams earned a spot in one of the big games, Tech by losing only one game in one of the toughest conferences in the nation, Boise because, well, they didn’t lose.  The level of play in this game would actually be miles ahead of a potentially unwatchable Florida State-Cincinnati Orange Bowl.  It would be a treat to watch these two offensive juggernauts pound it out in the Screwed by the BCS Championship Game (presented by Wachovia).

The venue for this game is also a no brainer.  The Cotton Bowl, as it is, is the biggest of the non-BCS bowls.  It is actually looking to become a BCS bowl when it moves to the new Texas Stadium.  Texas Tech will likely go anyways, as a non-BCS Big 12 team is represented in the game anyways.  The Cotton Bowl offers a high profile and a decent venue, which would be necessary for what may be the most interesting matchup of bowl season.  Furthermore, the $3 million that is offered, while not BCS money, would be enough to draw the two programs.  The SEC is usually represented on the other side, but hopefully the bigwigs in Dallas would be able to think logically and waive that tradition (especially because it isn’t a real tradition, BYU played in it 10 years ago, UCLA the year after that) in order to facilitate this matchup.

In fact, I will go a step further.  When the BCS Bowls are released Sunday, I don’t want to see Boise go to Glendale or Miami.  There is so much wrong with the BCS, I want to avoid it entirely.  If invited to play Cincy in the Orange Bowl or the loser of the Big 12 or SEC Championship in Glendale, the Broncos should continue to be the most innovative program in college football.  As hard as $17 million may be to pass up, they should give a giant middle finger to the BCS.  Turning down one of those second rate invites the Broncos should put on a show in Dallas, going to the Cotton Bowl, taking on the other team that got jobbed by this ridiculous system in an offensive showdown for the ages.