Conference & team perception is key in Group of 5

Photo by Pam Davis

When college football fans think of the Group of 5 teams, they usually think of Boise State.

It’s not because of their ‘gimmicky’ blue field, their trick plays, or their blue uniforms, they’re known to produce outside of their home turf. The average college football fan can point to those few Broncos games that stood out, Oklahoma, Virginia Tech and maybe Georgia.

All of those games the Broncos proved to the country that they’re a legit powerhouse. Times have changed a bit since Chris Petersen left for Washington. That dominant feel that many Bronco fans had during the Kellen Moore era is certainly different, but just as effective.

With coach Bryan Harsin, the wins against Power 5 schools has not changed.

Defeating the likes of Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl, Washington, Virginia (I’ll count it), Washington State and Oregon State. Boise State still has a winning record against P5 schools, and their only loss against the P5 in the Harsin era was against Ole Miss in Harsin’s first game as the new Bronco Football coach.

In the words of ESPN’s Mark May, you have to look at the body of work; and maybe that’s why Boise State jumped the other Broncos in the CFB Playoff Rankings. Sure Western Michigan has beat Northwestern and Illinois this season, but prior to this season, they haven’t beaten a P5 school since 2008. Their overall record against P5 schools since 2008 has been 1-16.

As great as it is beating a P5 school, victories against middle or the bottom feeders of a P5 Conference just doesn’t have the same ring to it as some of the wins Boise State and even the MWC have had against P5 schools through out the last six years.

The MWC doesn’t have much to boast outside of Boise State’s victories either, but a win against Cal has much more ring to it than Illinois and Northwestern, and that’s what San Diego State accomplished this season.

When a conference member of the MWC or MAC have an opportunity to play the big dogs, you would most likely give an upper hand to MWC based on perception, history, and level of competition. MWC trumps all three categories, in mainly due to the success of Boise State.

The MAC has had one trip to a big bowl, the Orange Bowl against Florida State in 2013 where Northern Illinois fell to defeat, 31-10.

12-4, that’s Boise State’s record against P5 schools since 2008. That’s including one Fiesta Bowl victory against No. 10 Arizona, and not including a win against former MWC member TCU in the 2010 Fiesta Bowl.

You can make a case for Western Michigan taking the Group of 5 spot if they indeed win out, but conference and team perception trumps all; and the MAC just doesn’t match well against the MWC.

The legacy of Boise State Football and the College Football Playoff rankings is in the Broncos favor if they do indeed win out. If this does play out to where the Broncos are bowling in the Cotton Bowl, Bronco Nation can’t say that they aren’t empathic to Western Michigan’s situation.

Just take a look back at Boise State’s 2008 team, undefeated, ranked 9th and left out of the BCS bowl mix.


About Drew Vachal

Drew Vachal
I am the founder and creator of Bronco Nation News. A graduate of Boise State, basketball junkie, a husband and an uncle. Email:

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