“The greatest test of courage on earth is to bear defeat without losing heart.” –Robert Green Ingersoll
The college football season has turned from its exciting and oft-lopsided non-conference schedules and is entering the conference-play gruel fest.
A team can dream of New Year’s Six games or even of Playoff games, but its number one priority should always be to win their conference. That is the true test of consistent greatness.
The playoff committee is biased. This we know. They place no importance on conference (or even division) champions (i.e. Alabama 2017).
Conference championships are not biased. There is a clear formula for who plays in those games: the teams with the best conference records in their respective divisions. There is no guessing. There is no predisposition. There is no room for opinions.
After the tough loss in Stillwater, the Broncos now turn their attention to their conference opponents. The Mountain West conference is top dog of the “Group of 5.” The American conference has its arguments, but they are not composed of the same strong consistency (San Jose State excluded) that the MW has. Three good teams do not make a conference.
Boise State will face division foes Wyoming, Colorado State, Air Force, New Mexico, and Utah State, with some West Division matchups against San Diego State and Nevada thrown in.
None of these games are to be overlooked. The MW continues to dish up good competition for Boise State to compete with. 10 of 12 MW teams are at or above .500 after the first three weeks of play.
Last season, after seeing a strikingly similar disappointing loss to a “Power 5” team, the Broncos turned the proverbial page and started fresh against their Mountain West brethren. The Broncos went on to win their next six conference matchups. Plus, they remedied their Fresno State loss the following week in the championship game.
Bronco Nation should expect this Oklahoma State loss to be the same springboard the UVA loss was last year. With a greater motivation to win out, and a perfectly timed bye week to prepare, the Broncos will look to run the table.
The 4 teams currently most expected to be the “Group of 5” rep in the NY6 bowls are Boise State, UCF, USF, and Houston. Boise State lost it’s only key P5 matchup. The other three do not have such a matchup.
Arizona is a flop this year and shouldn’t do much to bolster Houston’s schedule. UCF had to cancel their UNC game. USF had to rally in the 4th quarter to beat a bad Big 10 Illinois.
This means it will be a dog fight to the end. Fortunately, UCF, USF, & Houston all live in the American conference. That means they will hopefully beat each other up before the season ends. All the Broncos have to do is skate through the MW and come out unscathed (easier said than done).
Tough Conference Games
San Diego State – The Aztecs beat Arizona State in a stunning upset last week. The Sun Devils seemed to be on the up-and-up with Herm Edwards at the helm after upsetting Michigan State earlier this year. Last year the Broncos shut down the Rashaad Penny run game in the 31-14 victory. San Diego State aren’t #19 in the nation like last year, but expect a confident Aztec team.
Air Force – The Falcons’ triple option has been a thorn in the Broncos’ side for many years, but last year’s whomping of 44-19 is encouraging. Expectations are for a repeat performance.
Fresno State – The Bulldogs are looking for revenge. After winning the “less important” regular season game, they fell on the blue in the championship. The Bulldogs have been outstanding since Jeff Tedford took the head coaching job. This game is a typical late night special, with kickoff at 8:15. Mountain West at dark makes for crazy intense games.
Utah State – The Aggies look good. Like really good. With Jordon Love under center, the Aggies have come alive. They have put together one of their best teams in recent memory. Love is 64/97 with 3 INTs and only getting better after USU’s first 3 games this year. Get ready for a cold November shootout, as the Broncos reach their last regular season game.