Tuesday September 7th, 2010

Boise State's win against Virginia Tech on Monday night poured rocket fuel on a debate that raged all summer. One camp views Boise State as an excellent team capable of beating just about anyone in the country. The other believes the Broncos are merely a smurfed-out version of Ole Miss.

Camp No. 1 contends that if Boise State were a member of a power conference -- with the resources and the access to recruits that membership entails -- the Broncos would still be an elite team deserving of a spot in the national title game. Camp No. 2 contends that these Broncos would lose three or four games if they had to play an SEC schedule this season. Both of these scenarios are purely hypothetical. No power conference wants Boise State, and the Broncos' 2010 schedule is what it is. Here's the reality: All 15 teams that have faced Boise State since the 2009 season began have lost. That list includes last year's Pac-10 champ, another top 10 team from '09 and the team a lot of people picked to win the ACC this year.

If you have a problem with the quality of Boise State's schedule, write your favorite school's athletic director and tell him to schedule the Broncos so your team can prove its superiority. Boise State's Gene Bleymaier anxiously awaits your AD's call. If your school doesn't have the guts to schedule Boise State, kindly be quiet.

Remember, Boise State is only exploiting the idiotic system currently in place to choose the two teams that play for the national title. Boise State found the loophole in a system designed to keep the little guys out of the national title game. The loophole is this: If a team starts the season ranked high enough, that team stands an excellent chance of reaching the BCS title game as long as it goes undefeated -- regardless of the quality of its schedule -- and has at least one touchstone win.

There remains a simple, lucrative solution to this issue: Decide the national champion the same way the other NCAA divisions do -- with a 16-team playoff. Boise State would have to beat three elite opponents to reach the national title game, eliminating all concerns about the schedule. Until that happens, the debate will rage.

On to the rankings...

NCAA Football Power Rankings
1Alabama Crimson Tide
Last Week: 1
How good are the Crimson Tide? Despite missing the reigning Heisman Trophy winner (injured Mark Ingram) and their best defensive lineman (suspended Marcell Dareus), they are still favored by 11.5 points against a top 20 Penn State team. Everyone in the SEC's geographic footprint already knows who tailback Trent Richardson is -- and a lot of those people think he could be even better than Ingram. If Ingram can't play this week, the rest of the nation will become familiar with Alabama's No. 3.
Last game: Beat San Jose State, 48-3
Next game: Saturday vs. Penn State
 
2Boise St. Broncos
Last Week: 2
Shortly after the Broncos' win against Virginia Tech, I suggested on Twitter that the people in charge of the BCS had just raided a Corvallis, Ore., Wal-Mart to stock up on Oregon State gear to root on the establishment's last, best hope to knock out Boise State and head off an uncomfortable situation in December. Several dedicated Tweeps informed me that there is no Wal-Mart in Corvallis. After consulting Google Maps, I'll amend my prediction. The BCS overlords probably hit the Target in Albany (11 miles from Corvallis) to stock up on Beavers gear. As for the Broncos, they'd better get used to being hated. Though few opponents outside of Oregon State will have a chance, every team on Boise State's schedule will do everything possible to be the team that ruined the Broncos' BCS title game dreams.
Last game: Beat Virginia Tech, 33-30
Next game: Sept. 18 vs. Wyoming
 
3Ohio St. Buckeyes
Last Week: 3
The Buckeyes looked fantastic against Marshall, and there is no reason to believe this team hasn't built on its fantastic finish to the 2009 season. The Hurricanes will provide a tough test, but if Ohio State can beat Miami, it can beat anyone on its schedule.
Last game: Beat Marshall, 45-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Miami
 
4Texas Longhorns
Last Week: 4
Wyoming gave Texas fits in Laramie last year, but it's impossible to predict how the Cowboys will handle this year's meeting because they are dealing with a tragedy. Texas stayed vanilla on offense in its opener against Rice, but the defense proved it is just as opportunistic as last year. That unit will ensure Texas wins most of its games, and it will keep the Longhorns in the tougher games (Oklahoma, Nebraska) even if the offense struggles.
Last game: Beat Rice, 34-17
Next game: Saturday vs. Wyoming
 
5Oregon Ducks
Last Week: 8
No team looked better in Week 1 than the Ducks. Backup tailback Kenjon Barner ran for 147 yards and four touchdowns against New Mexico. Starter LaMichael James is back from suspension this week, giving Oregon a one-two rushing punch rivaled only by Alabama when it has a healthy Ingram and Richardson. Add the athleticism of quarterback Darron Thomas, and the Ducks are a defensive coordinator's nightmare. Of course, the defensive coordinator Oregon will face this week is Justin Wilcox, who drew up the plan that shut down the Ducks in last season's opener at Boise State. Wilcox has since moved to Knoxville. Unfortunately for him, he didn't bring any of the Broncos with him.
Last game: Beat New Mexico, 72-0
Next game: Saturday at Tennessee
 
6TCU Horned Frogs
Last Week: 6
Boise State is going to get all the attention while the Horned Frogs fly under the radar. Oregon State was TCU's best out-of-conference opponent. Now, Mountain West games against Air Force, Utah and BYU will determine whether the Horned Frogs make the BCS conversation even more interesting.
Last game: Beat Oregon State, 30-21
Next game: Saturday vs. Tennessee Tech
 
7Iowa Hawkeyes
Last Week: 5
We'll learn a lot about the Hawkeyes in the next few weeks. Iowa State is no slouch -- just ask last year's Nebraska team, which lost at home to the Cyclones. Iowa players had better not look too far forward to their Sept. 18 matchup with Pac-10 contender Arizona, or Iowa State might make them pay. Of course, the Hawkeyes could be better than they were last season, when they opened with a scare from Northern Iowa. On Saturday, Iowa was so good that Eastern Illinois couldn't even keep the Hawkeyes out of the end zone with 12 players. Tailback Adam Robinson (109 rushing yards, three touchdowns) scored on a two-yard run on Iowa's first possession despite the fact that the Panthers had 12 defenders on the field.
Last game: Beat Eastern Illinois, 37-7
Next game: Saturday vs. Iowa State
 
8Wisconsin Badgers
Last Week: 9
Wisconsin only led by three at the half against UNLV on Saturday, and everyone in America's Dairyland probably had flashbacks to last years Ohio State game. In Columbus in 2009, quarterback Scott Tolzein threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns. He threw another in Saturday's first half. Later, receiver Nick Toon's fumble near the goal line led to a UNLV touchdown. The Badgers cut their mistakes and poured it on in the second half en route to 278 rushing yards. If Wisconsin can limit its turnovers, its running game and its defense are good enough to make this a special season. If not, someone will pull an upset.
Last game: Beat UNLV, 41-21
Next game: Saturday vs. San Jose State
 
9Virginia Tech Hokies
Last Week: 7
The Hokies lost -- essentially at home -- to a team I consider the second-best in the country, so I'm not going to plunge them into the teens. After spotting Boise State 17 points, Virginia Tech hung with the Broncos the rest of the night. As long as quarterback Tyrod Taylor stays healthy and linebacker Barquell Rivers returns from a torn quadriceps muscle suffered in the offseason, the Hokies will contend for the ACC title.
Last game: Lost to Boise State, 33-30
Next game: Saturday vs. James Madison
 
10Nebraska Cornhuskers
Last Week: 13
Nebraska coach Bo Pelini kept his starting quarterback's identity such a secret that when redshirt freshman Taylor Martinez had an excused absence from practice last month, lots of people thought Martinez intended to transfer. That obviously wasn't the case. Pelini turned Martinez loose against Western Kentucky, and Martinez carried seven times for 127 yards and three touchdowns and completed 9 of 15 passes for 136 yards. Martinez gave the Cornhuskers a rushing threat from the quarterback spot that they sorely lacked last year. Nebraska's defense had a rare off day, but that should get fixed before the real games begin.
Last game: Beat Western Kentucky, 49-10
Next game: Saturday vs. Idaho
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