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

Sept. 29, 2011, 1:45 a.m.

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.

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