A big right hand from the Wyoming Cowboys (4-0, 6-2) may have knocked the Boise State (3-1, 7-1) football team down last Saturday. With four games left, though, the Broncos certainly aren’t out.
Suffering an eighth-round knockdown is never usually a good thing. It’s late in the fight, the knockdown fresher in the judges’ minds and there is limited time to recover.
Wyoming’s corralling of the Broncos last Saturday put the Cowboys solely in the driver’s seat for first place. Boise State is a spot down, once again forced to play catch up.
Boise State might be staggering on it’s feet, but they haven’t been knocked out yet.
For those looking to pack it in and call the Broncos season over, it might be good for a short stroll down memory lane. For that, we look no further than the 2014 season as indication the 2016 Broncos still have time to avoid ending up down on the mat for good.
2014 brought the Broncos their third Fiesta Bowl title. It was a successful 12-2 first season for head coach Bryan Harsin. And it was also a season in which the Broncos got knocked down and subsequently written off.
A week five 28-14 loss to Air Force had Boise State sitting 3-2, leaving many people wondering what the future held. We know how that ended up.
In 2016, the window to make up one game–yes, possibly only one game–is smaller. Both the Broncos and Cowboys have four games remaining on the schedule, with Boise State still having a chance to win the Mountain division.
It will take a combination of Boise State winning out–at this rate, no sure thing–and Wyoming losing twice (or once, depending on who that loss is to). If we’ve learned anything about the Bronco program, it’s to never say never.
Wyoming’s remaining games
The Cowboys, like Boise State, have two home games and two road games left on their schedule. They face the Utah State Aggies (1-4, 3-5) in Laramie this weekend.
The Aggies are struggling this season, but one shouldn’t overlook the comedown effect. Huge victories sometimes are followed up by a less-than-inspired effort. Look at the four teams who beat Boise State last season. All four lost the following week.
Wyoming than hits the road, traveling down to UNLV (2-3, 3-6). They then finish with a home game against San Diego State (4-0, 7-1) and on the road against New Mexico (3-1, 5-3).
Operating under the assumption Boise State wins all four, the following scenarios could play out:
Wyoming wins out
Self-explanatory. Wyoming takes home the Mountain division title.
Wyoming loses once
In this scenario, it depends on who the Cowboys lose to. If they lose to any team besides New Mexico, Wyoming will still be in first based off beating Boise State.
If Wyoming is to only lose to New Mexico, a three-way tie will occur between Boise State, Wyoming, and New Mexico. Because Boise State beat New Mexico, the tiebreaker will go to whichever team has the highest CFP ranking (the first of which comes out 11/1). This is a scenario in which Boise State should be highest rated. (*Thanks to a reader for pointing out that New Mexico needs to win out as well for this scenario to work. It was not mentioned in the original story.)
Wyoming loses twice
Per the Mountain West Conference rules, even if one of those losses is to the other division–i.e. San Diego State–Boise State would be in first. Which makes sense, considering they’d have only one conference loss.
Though only four weeks are left, there is still a lot of football to be played. As fans of college football–and Boise State in particular–we’ve all seen dreams come true and taken away all in a one week span. If the Broncos play to their true capabilities, then winning the final four games is entirely feasible.
If that happens, coupled with Wyoming winning their next three games, then the final weekend will decide the Mountain division. It is a safe bet over that Thanksgiving weekend you’ll see a rarity from the Bronco fan base: rooting for a Lobo victory.
For now, it’s San Jose State on the agenda. And for the Broncos, a chance to prove, like the teams that came before them, they aren’t going to back down from a seemingly uphill climb.