College Sports

Boise St. resumes debate early

The first college football Saturday of the year was not even a day old and Boise State had already ensured that yet another season would be dominated by bickering about the Broncos.

Championship contender? Or pretender?

Here we go again.

The latest statement by coach Chris Petersen’s team had to feel extra special to Broncos fans.

No matter how many times Boise State knocks off big name teams from elite conferences, some fans dismiss the accomplishment because the Broncos play so few games against topflight opponents.

Southeastern Conference fans have been particularly adamant about putting Boise State at the kiddie table.

It is an indisputable fact that Boise State, even now that it has switched from the Western Athletic Conference to the Mountain West, does not play a schedule with as many potential pitfalls as most teams in the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12 and maybe even the watered-down Big 12.

Mississippi State of the SEC, for example, has a schedule featuring six teams that started the season ranked.

Georgia is one of two teams on Boise State’s schedule that were in the preseason poll. Which is why so many looked at the Broncos’ playing the Bulldogs 70 miles away from their Athens, Ga., campus as Boise State’s toughest test of the season.

But it’s getting harder and harder to argue this Boise State program is not one of the very best in the country.

This is the third straight season impeccable quarterback Kellen Moore from Prosser and the Broncos have started by beating a ranked team. Georgia joined Oregon and Virginia Tech as Broncos’ conquests.

“I love playing early in the season in games like this. It sets the tone for the rest of the season. It’s a taste of what a big bowl game can be like with this type of atmosphere,” Boise State Byron Hout told the Idaho Statesmen. “If you can do the right thing you can find yourself in another event like this at the end of the season.”

If it were only so simple for Broncos.

Where do they go from here? Well, it seems the move to the MWC will only bump up Boise’s degree of difficulty a bit this season.

The next time we’ll see the Broncos will be in Toledo, playing an above average Mid-American Conference team.Boise State then returns to the blue turf to face Tulsa -- which opened the season with a 47-14 loss to No. 1 Oklahoma -- and Nevada. The Wolf Pack handed Boise State its only loss last season, but that was on the road and quarterback Colin Kaepernick is no longer galloping around defenses in Reno.

The last nonconference game is against another old WAC rival, Fresno State, which has been playing nail to Boise State’s hammer for years now. The Broncos have won nine of 10.

In the MWC, TCU was supposed to be Boise State’s toughest test — and could still turn out to be. But the Horned Frogs started their season with a 50-48 loss at Baylor on Friday night and their Nov. 12 game will be in Boise.

Boise State is 59-2 at Bronco Stadium since 1999, so good luck with that Frogs.

Fact is, the Broncos might have already peaked — and that’s what ticks off Boise State supporters. They’ll be favored — often huge favorites — in their remaining 11 games. Their lopsided victories will be greeted with a shrug by most poll voters and those big margins don’t even register in the BCS computer rankings, which are programmed more to pay lip service to sportsmanship more than to determine the best teams.

What Boise State needs to reach the BCS title game — in addition to going unbeaten — is for Georgia to right itself and reach the SEC title game, TCU to avoid another loss and maybe for Nevada, Fresno State or Air Force to pull off an upset or two — just not against the Broncos.

Meanwhile, the debate will rage. And thanks to a postseason system that allows only two teams to play for the national championship, it’s unlikely anything will get resolved.