And now comes the time to watch two mighty programs stuck outside the scope of the BCS conferences battle public perception as well as their opponents in the final weeks of the 2010 regular season. The BCS may not allow its six computers to take into account margin of victory in their computations, but you can bet every coach and Harris voter with a ballot is keeping a close eye on what the final two BCS Buster candidates do comparatively week after week. After one team continued its routing ways, and the other struggled against an opponent that is far better than this perception, let the flip-flopping begin.
Perhaps I was a little premature in swapping order last week. Maybe I’m being too hard this week. And maybe still these are the two best teams in college football, their only losses over the past two calendar years coming against one another in bowl games.
But after the performance Boise State put up in the Battle of Idaho on Friday night, the eyeballs of a curious nation immediately turned to watch what TCU might do against a San Diego State team that brought a potent offense to Fort Worth.
The answer? Play 53 minutes of vintage Horned Frogs football… sandwiched in between opening and closing stretches where the Aztecs made that vaunted TCU defense look downright pedestrian. Squeaking by 40-35, Gary Patterson’s team pushed one win closer to an undefeated regular season but lost some of the swagger which had many ready to vault them into the national title game should the Ducks and/or Tigers falter ahead of them.
So while I’m shifting the teams yet again this week, defaulting back to the pattern which had held all season long save last weekend, there’s still time for the top dog to fall. While TCU had but a trip to floundering New Mexico left on its schedule, Boise State still has three potential statements to make, especially in what should be tough games against Fresno State and Nevada. With the final month of the regular season in full swing, let’s take the pulse of the two BCS Buster hopefuls still standing…
1. BOISE STATE BRONCOS (WAC/9-0)
- Last Week: 2nd
- Last Game: W @ Idaho 52-14
- Next Game: November 19 v. Fresno State
Boise State continues to confound those who would choose to discredit everything they’ve achieved so far in 2010. And in the 40th and what might be final chapter in the rivalry between the Broncos and Vandals on Friday night, they added another punctuating performance to their resume.
By the end of the first quarter it was already 28-0 for the visitors in Moscow. QB Kellen Moore once again worked all his magic before the fourth quarter even started, pulled before the final frame even began, after tossing his third TD pass of the night to make it 52-7.
Boise has two more in a string of three consecutive Friday-night showcases against 2009 WAC bowl teams to improve their position even further before the December 5th BCS selections. Unlike TCU, the Broncos face several stiff tests, next week against the Bulldogs of Fresno State followed by a trip to Reno to face fellow ranked WAC member Nevada.
They also got a boost to their schedule strength when Virginia Tech closed in on the ACC Coastal Division crown with a 26-10 win over North Carolina that kept them unblemished in conference play. About the only thing that didn’t pan out for the Broncos was a loss in Corvallis, but they weren’t the only ones who squirmed a little at that result…
2. TCU HORNED FROGS (MWC/11-0)
- Last Week: 1st
- Last Game: W v. San Diego State 40-35
- Next Game: November 27 @ New Mexico
TCU took a bigger hit than merely their scare against San Diego State which precipitated this move back to second. The fiasco that is Oregon State losing at home to a Washington State team which was two years removed from its last Pac-10 victory hurts, but in reality it hurts both the Horned Frogs and the Broncos given that both teams dealt the Beavers a defeat early in the season.
But while that loss proves a wash in separating the two BCS Busters, it was TCU’s schedule strength that took two more massive blows. Last week they leap-Frogged Boise thanks in major part to their 47-7 rout of then-#5 Utah in the marquee game of the week. That result took a serious credibility blow when the Utes came out flat in South Bend and were rolled by Notre Dame. And thus Kyle Whittingham’s team hurt their Mountain West foe’s chances for a title shot on their way out the door for the Pac-12 next season.
Just two weeks ago Baylor — who suffered a crushing 45-10 loss early in the season — was coming off a defining win over Texas, ranked and bowl eligible for the first time since the Big XII originated, and in control of their divisional destiny. Two straight losses later, most recently to Texas A&M, and the Bears are right back in the middle of the pack.
With Boise State getting a boost every week that the Hokies press closer to an ACC championship appearance, TCU needs help in the form of its vanquished opponents rediscovering their winning ways ASAP. It especially hurts right now that there is but one game remaining on the Horned Frogs’ schedule and that it comes against the Lobos. Unless they can outdo the 72 points Oregon put up against New Mexico to open the season, there’s really no way to boost their street cred with a trip to Albuquerque.
A BCS appearance is still imminently achievable for TCU, but Week 11 might prove the weekend that derailed dreams of a crystal football that is already held out of reach for non-AQ schools by the cartel.
- BCS Buster Power Rankings: Week 8
- BCS Buster Power Rankings: Week 10
- BCS Buster Power Rankings: Week 6