Boise State in no-win situation

November 11, 2009, 12:40 PM HST · Updated November 16, 1:02 PM
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By Fred Guzman
ESPN550.com

The knock against Boise State is the same as with other top programs from second-tier football conferences. Namely, the critics invariably point to that team’s strength of schedule, or lack thereof.

As the argument goes, if TCU and Boise State played in, say, the SEC, Big-12 or Pac-10 on a weekly basis, they would be merely middle-of-the-road teams within those power conferences.

The quandary for Boise State is that you can’t strengthen your schedule if stronger teams aren’t willing to play you home or away. Fresno State has tried to address the issue by embracing a philosophy of playing anyone, anywhere, anytime.

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But even that strategy doesn’t always work. Many teams have pulled out of contracts to play against Hawaii at Aloha Stadium figuring it’s not worth the risk of losing to a team from the second-tier WAC.

Boise State, unbeaten and ranked sixth in the latest BCS standings, is encountering the same problem in seeking to fill an opening in its 2011 schedule with a quality opponent.

Teams cringe at playing on Boise’s Smurf Turf, where the Broncos are 59-2 over the past decade, including a 19-8 win over Oregon to open the current season.

Big-time programs may pay from $600,000 to $1 million to weak teams for a paycheck game. But they don’t want to pay big bucks to a Boise State and run the risk of getting beat at home in the process.
Under the BCS rules only the highest-ranked non-BCS team is assured of a BCS bowl berth while the other is available for an improbable at-large bid.

Last year, Boise State went undefeated during the regular season and ranked No. 9 in the BCS standings, but Utah was ranked ahead of them and earned the guaranteed spot to a BCS bowl. This season, Boise State is No. 6 in the current standings, but TCU is No. 4.

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