The ACC is weak. Very weak. Some would argue that the ACC has had all of its major out-of-conference tests on the road, but the fact remains that their highest-ranked team in the preseason poll lost to a FCS school at home. We also have learned the Big East is weak this year. Right now there isn't a single Big East team ranked in either poll.
The one thing we haven't learned is this: "How good is Boise State this year"? And unlike other questions that will soon be answered throughout this season, that one will probably never have one. Not until they play in a bowl game in January, whether or not it is for a National Championship.
Here are the facts about Boise State:
- They play in the WAC. Not exactly the SEC or the Big Ten... or even the ACC or the Big East, but it is their conference.
- They started the season ranked very highly in both polls. Whether that is fair or not, we will discuss shortly.
- Their non-conference schedule included a "neutral" game at Virginia Tech, and a home game against Oregon State, both of whom were ranked in boht preseason polls.
The third is where the debates begin. "How come Boise doesn't schedule Ohio State?" "How well would they do in the SEC?" "Do they deserve to play for a National Title?" The answers are "Because Ohio State doesn't want to lose to them", "There is no way to know, because games are played on a football field and not in a sports pundit's head", and "There's a problem with the system when a team wins every game they play and don't have an opportunity to play for a title". Let's start with the first.
Major conference teams don't want any part of Boise State, for the most part. The last thing a team wants to happen to them is what happened to Oregon the past two seasons, which is to start the season with a loss to a team in the WAC. Never mind that Boise State is not a WAC-level team. The fact of the matter is that they play in the WAC and nobody wants to lose to a team in the WAC. Especially not when a team starts out ranked in the top 10 of the preseason polls. They would much rather pay a FCS team or a bottom feeding non-BCS team to play in their stadium (preferably losing by a wide margin) than play a legitimate opponent to start the season off. Perhaps they might schedule a "marquee" non-conference matchup to stir interest with their fans and create buzz in the media, so even if they lose to a quality opponent, they don't tumble too far down the rankings.
Unfortunately for Boise State, that doesn't include them. Boise State doesn't have the history or prestige or "wow factor" that a traditional power like Texas or Michigan or Alabama has. And to top it off, they are perfectly capable of beating teams even if they go on the road.
The other argument that is made is "Well, Boise wants other teams to pay them when Boise play them on the road!" Sure, why not? Last season, Notre Dame paid out a six-figure sum to Nevada so that the Wolfpack could travel to South Bend for their season opener. Why should Boise State have to do it for free? If it was a home-and-home series, that would be different, but that point was already discussed. Teams don't want to lose to Boise on their field, and they surely don't want to lose to Boise on the Smurf Turf.
So there you have it. Now if you are still convinced Boise doesn't deserve to play for a National Title, then you simply don't care about the integrity of College Football (what's left of it, anyway). Or maybe you don't care because your Crimson Tide and your Buckeyes are on track to meat in the National Championship if they stay perfect. Or maybe it's simply a moot point because the determining factor is not what happens on the field, but what the voters think happens on the field.
And in that case they see Boise State.
And all they can do is hate.