Well, it’s all they can do. College football elitists will snicker that the Boise State’s regular season came to an end late September 3 after they handled the Georgia Bulldogs in the Georgia Dome, the second time the Broncos opened with a neutral site away game against a top 25 opponent and emerged victorious.
We know their season isn’t over just yet, of course. They still have to face the elite of their new conference when they take on Air Force and TCU, and Fresno State tends to play them tough.
Yet that’s nowhere near the caliber of opponents Alabama must face this year. They’ve already had their ‘Georgia game’ when they beat 23rd-ranked Penn State in Happy Valley. (Comparing Penn State and Georgia this early may not be fair, but you get the idea.) Now they must meet Arkansas, Florida, Tennessee, LSU, Mississippi State and Auburn, five of whom are currently ranked in the top 25.
So who should get the go-ahead if it came down to an undefeated Boise State team and a one-loss Alabama team? It’s hardly the first time we’ve heard the question.
We could have had this same conversation at exactly this time last year after Alabama beat Penn State the previous Saturday and Boise State was more than a week removed from the win against Virginia Tech and coming off a bye in the second week. Both teams were in the top five and facing a similar remaining schedule as they face now (Boise State’s may be a little tougher with the move the Mountain West).
History will keep repeating itself, and we’ll keep having the same conversation, which at this point is rather tired and cumbersome.
But all Boise State can do is to keep on winning and hope it’s enough to earn a shot at the big time, to which they’ve proven they belong over the last several years. Kellen Moore is one of the three best college quarterbacks in the country, and despite the loss of his two leading receivers from last season, he has a nice arsenal of pass catchers with which to work. And that defense isn’t half-bad, either.
They’ll continue their season Friday night when they travel to Toledo—a road trip that probably no other top-tier program in the country would make—to face the Rockets, who almost pulled off the big upset against Ohio State last weekend. The Rockets got steamrolled last year by the Broncos, but they’re not the same team this time around. Reports out of Toledo in the offseason were that this year’s squad was fired up after the close loss to FIU in the Little Caesars Bowl last year, and couldn’t wait to get back on the field. We saw that this past Saturday as they played right along with the Buckeyes in Columbus.
Broncos head coach Chris Petersen seems to agree. “If you watch the tape of the game against Ohio State, [Toledo] played right with them,” he said according to ArbiterOnline, the independent student media at Boise State. “It’s not a fluke; that’s a good football team.” There are returning starters all over this year’s Rockets team. In my preview of the Rockets, I picked them to finish 2nd in the MAC West behind last year’s MAC Champion NIU Huskies, who were the only MAC squad to defeat the Rockets last year.
Wide receiver Eric Page gives the offense and special teams a dynamic playmaker who was responsible for two of the Rockets’ three touchdowns, and threw the pass to Hank Keighley for two-point conversation. Running back Adonis Thomas gives them another proven playmaker, while the two-quarterback system of Austin Dantin and Terrance Owens has worked well so far.
Avoiding the letdown against a team like Toledo is nothing new for the fourth-ranked Broncos, who face scrutiny every week for their strength of schedule. For Toledo, the close call against the Bucks has to give them confidence heading into the primetime matchup on their home turf. When you play well against the high-caliber opponents and take the good away from the loss, you can become a dangerous team.
So as the Broncos continue to just win football games, the Rockets will try again for that marquee win over a ranked opponent.