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Blanchat: Does Boise State complicate Stanford’s road to BCS?

After the first few weeks of the college football season, some of the critical questions that experts pondered all summer seem to be answered.

Will LSU’s tough early schedule lead to a couple of ugly losses? Nope. Will Alabama be that good after losing their starting quarterback, running back and wide receiver? Oh, yeah. Will Andrew Luck struggle because of the pressure that comes with being the preseason Heisman front-runner? Not one bit.

But now that the top ten teams in the country appear to have sorted themselves out (for the most part), fans are already looking ahead to BCS bowl season and just where their favorite teams might end up if their early-season success continues. This picture, just like anything that involves the BCS, is not so clear.

First, let’s sort out just who the national title contenders appear to be. In the SEC, Alabama and LSU have set themselves atop the conference and the nation, but they square off Nov. 5. In the Big Ten, Nebraska and Wisconsin are both undefeated, but will play one another this weekend. In the Big 12, Oklahoma and Oklahoma State are unblemished, and they will also play each other in the last game of their seasons.

In the Pac-12, Stanford is the only undefeated team left after four weeks, but the Oregon Ducks loom on the Cardinal’s schedule, and their lone loss is to No. 1 LSU. And, once again, Boise State is undefeated, and it looks like the Broncos will remain that way, barring another disaster loss like their loss to Nevada last year. Once again, that means that the Broncos are the ones complicating everyone else’s lives.

We know that half of the teams I listed off earlier will definitely have losses on their record because they play one another–so that will most likely eliminate some of them from title contention. And if a team from the SEC goes undefeated, they’ll definitely be in the title game (if history is any indication). If Oklahoma goes undefeated, they’ll surely be in the title game because they’ll have a couple of wins over Top-10 teams.

But what about Stanford? If the Cardinal goes undefeated, would it get the call over an undefeated Boise State team?

I’ve personally been asked this question several times in the past week, and it’s a reasonable one because the Pac-12 is not very deep this year. It bears repeating that Stanford is the only undefeated team left in the entire conference, and it’s only week five.

Therefore, I wanted to make this point in print: if Stanford goes undefeated and Boise goes undefeated, the Cardinal would (and should) get the call over the Broncos.

Stanford’s resume would, without a doubt, be better than Boise’s, and the addition of a Pac-12 title game this season would add extra incentive for the BCS to pick the Cardinal for New Orleans.

Just look at the numbers: if Boise and Stanford both win out, the Cardinal would have 13 wins to the Broncos’ 12. Stanford would have quality wins over Oregon and the Pac-12 South Champion. Stanford’s best win would be over Oregon, which would be significantly better than Boise’s best win, which came against a suspect Georgia team in week one.

I’m not a Boise hater–it’s a great program and absolutely deserves to go to a BCS bowl if it goes undefeated–but it doesn’t deserve to go over any team that wins an extra conference championship game, be that undefeated team from the Pac-12, Big Ten, SEC or ACC. If it’s a one-loss major conference team, perhaps an undefeated Boise deserves to go to the title game, but I won’t get into that now.

I know arguments about Boise have played out now that it’s been in title contention for several years now, and I hate relying on the Boise-plays-too-weak-a-schedule argument, but it does apply in this case. Having Georgia as your best win is not going to cut it this year if it comes down to Stanford or Boise. Sorry, Broncos. Sometimes the truth hurts.

So take heart, Stanford fans– but just remember how unpredictable college football can be–especially if the Broncos are the ones who finally end up holding that crystal football at the end of this season.

If you give Jack Blanchat lemons, he will make margaritas. If you give him onions, he will also make margaritas. So it comes as little surprise that he has the Cardinal playing in the BCS title game. Weigh in on his unending optimism via twitter @jmblanchat, or drop him an email at blanchat “at” stanford.edu for that margarita recipe.

  • Dan

    Quite honestly, I haven’t seen anything from the PAC12 this year to suggest that this conference should even be considered for a BCS game eventhough they are already an AQ conference.  Can anyone say UCONN?  Quite frankly, they have been taking quite a beating losing to 13 non-conference teams which include Hawaii, Sacramento State, San Jose, Duke, San Diego State, and Houston.  By the way, all of these losses are against Non-AQ teams.  Most of the wins that they do have are against FCS schools. 

    Stanford has only played San Jose State, Duke, and Arizona State.  All three of these schools would be hard pressed to compete in the FCS, let alone being at all competive in the FBS this year.  I have watched a couple of these games, and it appeared to me that Andrew Luck and the rest of the team has struggled at times in all of these games.  Luck should have been sitting on the bench drinking a cold one by half time with these teams.   

    Stanford needs to step it up and show us something, before this conversation even takes place.  They difinitely aren’t getting any help from their conference mates.  Their only two marquee games this year are Oregon and Notre Dame.  If they played like they did in the first three games, they are going to get smoked.  There are a couple of trap games also with Washington State, Utah, and USC. 

    I wish all the luck to Stanford, but I definitely would be counting any chickens until after that Oregon game in November.  From what I have seen so far, I would just be worrying about making it to November unscathed.   

  • Just call me PB.

    First you gotta go undefeated, which is doubtful.

    Even though the pac-12 has better schools overall,  BSU is still better than all the pac-12 teams.

    How bout you schedule Stanford and Boise and Oregon(oh never mind), ok at least Stanford and if you beat Boise and run through the pac-12 than you deserve a BCS bowl.

  • Daleblazer

    I don’t think you will find anyone in Boise that would argue with this.  Too Bad the Pac 12 would not invite them to play like they did the weaker Utah and Colorado teams.  Then we would not be discussing this.

  • Will

    I believe Oregon complicates things for Stanford, not BSU.  Although BSU would severely beat them both

  • http://www.facebook.com/bonwell Robert Bonwell Parker

    Well, your argument that Stanford should be in the NC because they played 13 games is ridiculous. Colorado is playing 13 games this season because they visited Hawaii, does that make them any better? What I’ll presume you mean is that Stanford will be playing a championship game, which is guaranteed to be against the best Pac-12 South team, and I’ll grant you that… then again, it’s not like any teams in the P12 South seem to be any good.

    In any case, it looks like it won’t matter. Stanford already jumped Boise State after their quality win against Bye, after Boise State was barely able to beat Tulsa by 20 points.

  • Steve

    Boise is not up to the academic standards of the Pac, simple as that. They’re one step above a JUCO

  • guest

    It’s football, not science, math . . .  The academic standards “thing” is pretty presumptuous.  Even a “JUCO” education serves as a good step toward a quality career.  Perhaps the PAC-12 doesn’t want Boise State to get added revenue that would help them compete in the classroom, too.

  • Dalegray

    Steve,  Your opinion on BSU is a little dated.  Boise is building new academic buildings, reducing classroom size, increasing admission standards.  They are creating a fine school.  Wasn’t all that long ago that Stanford was created with western railroad and mining money. 

  • Two Cents

    It is naive to brush off the importance and impact of academics in conference affiliation. Academics far eclipses (as it well should) athletic budgets. Why act amazed that colleges are in the business of education? Every conference highly values AAU membership. That is what the Pac 10 meant when they cited to Texas and company, “It was always about Colorado.”

    Football powers come and go. Academic clout packs a long standing punch.

    Secondly, it is naive to dismiss the importance of the power of tv markets. Boise’s market is underwhelming. AQ conferences are not charitable organizations. As such, it should come as no suprise that conferences pass on BSU because what is most likely to happen is their decade of competitiveness will naturally wane (as happens to every other team). When that happens, any conference will find BSU a liability. Academics not top rated, tv market nothing of note, no other sports gaining headlines.

    It is like a house of cards. No one is afraid of Boise. Everyone remembers all the big talk last year, which was punctuated by a huge choke job.