NCAA Football

College Football Analysis: Is 2011 Going to be Boise State's Year?

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Here I go getting into college football’s most polarizing subject and we haven’t even reached the official start of summer. Boise State would not have played in the BCS National Championship Game even if they hadn’t lost to Nevada on Black Friday—a term you could argue took on a whole new meaning in Idaho that night.

Despite starting ranked higher than Oregon and Auburn in the preseason polls, by the time the first BCS rankings came out on October 17, Oregon had passed the Broncos and the next week Auburn jumped to the top spot. Besides, TCU even passed them the week after Auburn did.

But that doesn’t mean the question of whether a non-AQ school will ever play for the national championship as long as the BCS is holding hostage running the college football postseason will go away. This preseason, Boise State is once again considered the non-AQ team that holds the best chance of upsetting college football elitists and hoisting that crystal football. 

(Note: The legitimacy of the BCS will not be proven should a non-AQ school ever win the national title, nor will BCS opponents let the issue rest. The problem is not necessarily that a non-AQ school has never played for the national championship, but rather that the BCS provides AQ schools much easier access to the national title game and the BCS bowl games, not to mention the revenue that comes with it.)

When you have a quarterback on almost everybody’s Heisman watch list behind an offensive line that features perhaps the game’s top tackle prospect, and a running back more than capable of handling the every down duties, it’s not hard to see why many consider this team one of the top ten entering the season. Defensively, despite some turnover in the secondary, the Broncos will return one of the game’s best defensive fronts that includes tackle Billy Winn, end Shea McClellin and linebacker Byron Hout. Last year the Broncos were ranked first in sacks; second in total defense, scoring defense, pass efficiency defense and tackles for loss; fourth in pass defense; and seventh in rush defense.

That brings us to where the Broncos belong in the preseason rankings. Oklahoma and Oregon are about guaranteed a spot in the top five, while Alabama, LSU, Texas A&M, Stanford, Florida State and Oklahoma State are likely to find a spot somewhere in the top ten. Do the Broncos belong in that class? Absolutely.

I’m not a huge fan of preseason rankings from polls that contribute to determining the national champion, but I see the appeal among fans and in the media. Sports Illustrated‘s Andy Staples put Boise State at #10 in his post-spring top 25; ESPN‘s Mark Schlabach had the Broncos ranked #7 in his. Matt Hayes of The Sporting News put Boise State at #6, and Dave Miller of the National Football Post ranked the Broncos #5. Dennis Dodd of put Boise State all the way at #14, and put Boise State at #16.

Opinion varies from one writer to the next, but I’d say it’s a safe bet the Broncos begin the season ranked in the top 10 with a very outside shot at the top five. And given the success this team has had and what they have coming back, I’d say that’s about right.

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