Is Boise State the Best Team?

Everyone has different definitions of what constitutes the No. 1 team.

Some people look at a team’s body of work.  Some try to discern which team appears to be playing the best at the end of the season.  Some look at overall talent level.  Others consider how teams fare againt the most quality opponents.

These are all worthy and normal ways to assess a team’s worth. 

But what about the concept of ‘best team’ in a vacuum?  As in, the team that plays the ‘best’ as its roster is currently constituted, within the context of its placement in the college football universe, regardless of its competition or conference?   Which team plays the finest combination of offense, defense and special teams?  Which team executes its assigned tasks closer to perfection than any other, regardless of level of opponent?  Which team comes closest to fully utilizing the talent at its disposal?

I think it’s clear that the answer to these questions is, thus far, Boise State.

Does that mean Boise State would go undefeated in a major conference this year?  No.  But you could say the same about most teams in college football.

Does that mean Boise State would beat Alabama right now?  Maybe not. 

But if you had to bet on one team, out of 120 schools, to play as close to perfection as possible in a given game, wouldn’t you bet on Boise State to be that team?  I would.

Maybe Boise State wouldn’t beat every other team in college football right now.  A team with a lot more talent like Ohio State could play a sloppy game and still beat the Broncos, for instance, thanks to its ability to exploit one or two physical mismatches.  But would that make the Buckeyes a better team in the overall sense?  Has Ohio State–or any of the other top tier teams–played to the best of their ability this season?

I think Boise State has done so, for whatever that’s worth.  And, to me, that makes the Broncos the best team.

Whether BSU is the most deserving team to play in the BCS title game based on things like body of work and strength of schedule…that’s a whole ‘nother matter.  We’ll be arguing about that one for the next 10 years, I’m sure.

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Chris Huston, A.K.A. ‘The Heisman Pundit‘, is a Heisman voter and the creator and publisher of Heismanpundit.com, a site dedicated to analysis of the Heisman Trophy and college football. Dubbed “the foremost authority on the Heisman” by Sports Illustrated, HP is regularly quoted or cited during football season in newspapers across the country. He is also a regular contributor on sports talk radio and television.

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19 Responses to Is Boise State the Best Team?

  1. ross October 18, 2010 at 6:56 pm #

    Boise is really hard to judge. They beat VT, who is starting to look better, and Oregon State who looks decent in the Pac 10. I think the main reason they’re able to win the big games they play is because they play so few big games. If Alabama, Auburn, Oklahoma, or Ohio State played vastly inferior opponents 9 weeks out of the season, they could spend the majority of the season gearing up and scheming for those few big games. Does Boise do it well? Heck yes they do. Their schedule gives them the advantage of being able to look past opponents though. I’m sure they’re already spending a bunch of time in practice and film rooms preparing for Nevada, while other teams don’t have that luxury. Think Auburn is prepping weak in and weak out for Bama? I bet they’re focused on LSU and not thinking that far ahead. If there are only one or two undefeated teams at the end of the year, does Boise deserve a shot at the title? Why the hell not? Their opponent will have equal time to prepare for them. They’ve fared well in BCS games so far.

  2. ADP October 18, 2010 at 8:24 pm #

    I think one of the factors that the Boise naysayers never seem to bring up is one of overall physical talent…and I mean this as a comparative evaluation.

    Recruit talent is a strictly apples to oranges argument for sure, but if you looked at Boise’s physical talent level vs. the rest of the WAC can you really say they are vastly more talented than anyone else? Or are they better coached? Is Alabama or Florida vastly more talented than the rest of the SEC? Comparative talent levels vs. ‘league average’ makes it more of, say, an apples to pears argument.

    Sure, if Alabama or USC or Oklahoma played in the WAC they would (should) run roughshod over the physically inferior teams…but then again, tradition and conference affiliation gives them access to better recruits. Theoretically, if Boise continues to win they will gain more national acclaim and possibly change conferences again to step up the competition.

    Seriously, it’s not like Boise spends the entire season game planning for Fresno and Nevada, as Ross states. If they spent all their time studying Nevada’s run orientated pistol, Hawaii’s pass happy attack would shred them. And they’ve seem to have done a pretty good job thus far against the marquee opponents that they’ve had a chance to play.

  3. Dave October 18, 2010 at 9:01 pm #

    Job A has a 33% higher production requirement than Job B. Otherwise, Job A and Job B have the same job description and the same hours. However, the extra work load for Job A means that, week in and week out, becomes far less forgiving of lapses in concentration or minor physical impairments. Job A is just more stress – a lot more.

    If you use this comparison simply from the perspective of the kids, then it’s a no-brainer that BSU has a huge advantage in the pursuit of an undefeated season. Stress disrupts preparation. Stress disrupts execution. A season with 4 real games and 8 stat-stuffers differs completely from a season with 8 real games and 4 stat-stuffers.

    On the other hand, when you extend the comparison to the institutions, then you have to note that Job A pays exponentially more than Job B, and Job A gets cut a little more slack for a single bad week. Job A gets all the glory. And perhaps most significantly, Job A belongs to a fairly exclusive club. It’s not really a meritocracy. You got to be from the right neighborhood and go the right schools to get Job A. Ohio State and Alabama started this season in Glendale. That privilege belongs to roughly 10 programs. From that perspective, it’s hard to feel sorry for them.

    Like most CFB arguments (and politics and religion), it comes down to how you view the world. And honestly, it’s sort of fun. I’m sure we’ll see playoffs one day, but I hope this never becomes the NFL.

  4. Floridan October 19, 2010 at 7:19 am #

    Please . . . you cannot separate executing “assigned tasks closer to perfection” from level of competition.

    What’s the over/under on how many SEC teams would be undefeated if they played BSU’s schedule? I’d say five.

  5. Heismanpundit October 19, 2010 at 9:18 am #

    I’m right, you’re wrong, get over it.

  6. Chris October 19, 2010 at 9:29 am #

    I’ve generally been a fan of Boise State, but think they’re over-hyped this year. There’s a reason the computers have them 7th in the nation.

    HP whines about teams that play a couple of non-BCS teams, then touts Boise State as #1 when they play 10 such games. Flippity-floppity.

  7. Dave October 19, 2010 at 10:49 am #

    Actually, Floridan is right – it’s significantly tougher to execute your assignments against bigger, faster opponents. That’s why, you know, teams tend to score a hell of a lot more against San Jose State than Mississippi State.

    Oregon State and VaTech will both have at least 4 losses by the end of the year. Any pundit who wants to claim that 2 middle-of-the-pack teams from the ACC and Pac 10 plus 9 cupcakes makes a compelling national championship resume better stop complaining about watered down schedules. The last thing ADs need is more encouragement to chase 11-0 with cupcake opponents.

    Sort of reminds me of politicians who want more spending, lower taxes, and less debt. Pick 2, because 3 is a contradiction in terms.

    • Heismanpundit October 19, 2010 at 11:50 am #

      Well, how did LSU, currently ranked No. 6, play against McNeese State?

  8. ADP October 19, 2010 at 11:48 am #

    I always laugh when people that say “A bunch of teams from (insert major conference here) would go undefeated against Boise’s schedule!” Of course they ‘should’, they have bigger, stronger, faster athletes with better facilities the latest and greatest innovations.

    As a somewhat Boise fan, I would love to see them crash the establishment, a better statement to make would be something along the lines of: “A bunch of head coaches from (insert major conference here) would go undefeated with Boise’s current team against their current schedule.”

    Think on that one and then honestly ask yourself how many you think that is.

    Most people miss the point entirely…Boise is at an inherent disadvantage given their history, conference affiliation, and location. They play the hand they are dealt, and they tend to beat the vast majority of their opponents, including big conference teams on national television.

    To get back to the business perspective that Dave put up. It would be a much better example if you also talked about how Job A had all the latest and greatest technology and offices while Job B was using Commodore 64’s and operating out of an abandoned warehouse.

  9. Dave October 19, 2010 at 1:18 pm #

    ADP — Nonsense.

    1 – You essentially argue that Boise deserves a lower bar. Fine. They can drop back to FCS – a lower bar, and a playoff to boot. They’ll dominate.
    2 – How did Dan Hawkins do after he left Boise State?
    3 – Boise gets a tremendous number of exceptional players from California who do not qualify for the Pac-10, limited either academically or physically. Put another 4 inches on Kellen Moore, and he’s backing up Locker at Washington. So Boise’s success is directly related to its geography and facilities – just the same as anyone else. Put Boise in the southeastern US, and they’re Southern Miss.

  10. Dave October 19, 2010 at 1:33 pm #

    HP:
    1 – Who does LSU play the week after McNeese?
    2 – Who did LSU play the week before?
    3 – Who does LSU play two weeks after McNeese?
    4 – Who did LSU play two weeks before McNeese?
    5 – Who did LSU play three weeks before McNeese?

    I’m betting LSU spent the week before McNeese prepping for Cam Newton/Mark Ingram and resting players. Just a hunch.

    And that’s exactly the difference I’m talking about in the schedules.

    • Heismanpundit October 19, 2010 at 1:51 pm #

      Well, they played a not-very-good Florida team.

      Look, I’m not arguing that LSU plays an easier schedule than Boise. It plays a tougher schedule, but then it also has more talent on its roster to handle that schedule, too. Are we NEVER to expect LSU to play at a high level merely because it has a tougher schedule? If it didn’t play at a high level against McNeese State, when can we expect it to this year? LSU didn’t rest its starters in the first half when McNeese State went up 10-7. This isn’t the NFL, where teams rest starters for the playoffs.

      My point is that there’s no reason why a team that plays a tough schedule can’t play at a high level, win or lose.

  11. ADP October 19, 2010 at 2:11 pm #

    Dave –

    1. Wrong. My argument is that they have no major advantage over any other WAC team be it location, recruits, or facilities. I’m saying that Boise is beating everyone on their WAC schedule plus a couple quality programs OOC this year…and they’re doing it with the same kind of 2nd tier recruits that the rest of the WAC has.

    2. Irrelevant. But just for the sake of argument, how has Houston Nutt done in the SEC?

    3. By your logic, San Jose State should be crushing the WAC and San Diego State should be doing the same to the MWC. Tell me why this isn’t happening. Boise’s success is predicated upon the continuity of the program (coaching succession) and good recruiting (matching skill set to scheme).

  12. Dave October 19, 2010 at 2:34 pm #

    Maybe Petersen has discovered some magic secret for getting kids to perform at their peak every week without fail – something no coach in the history of college football has every done.

    Playing 2 or 3 State U’s in a row, twice in a season, takes a physical and emotional toll Boise will never know. That grind and stress is in my opinion the single most important factor in execution – which is all about focus.

    I know that when the economy’s solid and the sales come a little easier, my sales team has excellent execution. After 9-11 and during this current period, execution took a nose dive — because the pressure and the stress increased immeasurably. That’s why I just don’t see “proper execution” as a viable evaluation variable. Boise goes into 9 games a season KNOWING they’re going to win. Their opponents know they’re going to lose. It’s just a question of how much, and it’s a lot easier to get guys ramped up to shoot for 50 than it is to motivate guys to prevent it.

    Beyond that, you’re asking me either to defend Les Miles as a coach or to compare him to Petersen. Sorry, I’ll pass on that one.

    If I had to bet right now, I’d say the championship game will be Boise State and Oregon. I think the SEC will continue to cannibalize itself, and I think Nebraska will beat Oklahoma in the Big 12 finale. I’m fine with that — the teams hate each other, they’re both talented, and Boise would probably win. I think they can do to Oregon all game what Tennessee did for a half.

    But to get there, they have to keep demolishing opponents ranked in the bottom half of FBS and hope everyone else loses a game. I’m fine with that, too.

  13. Chris October 19, 2010 at 2:50 pm #

    Nobody’s touting LSU as #1. In fact there have been grumblings that Les Miles should be fired. McNeese St was his worst game of the year. But let’s compare:

    # games against BCS teams/yr?
    LSU 10, BSU 2

    Record against BCS teams in the last decade?
    LSU 71-31, BSU 8-11

    Margin of victory against the BCS this year?
    LSU 11 points in 6 games
    BSU 8 points in 2 games

    I think this paints a compelling picture that Boise State would probably have a loss this year if they played in a BCS conference.

    And I assume Boise State fans are aware that their team looks like small-time chumps for wearing blue uniforms on a matching blue field.

  14. Dave October 19, 2010 at 2:58 pm #

    ADP:

    Fine – you tell me what makes Boise so successful if they have the same recruits and coaches as SDS and SJS. Some magic chemical in the drinking water?

    BSU does not get the same recruits as SJS and SDS. If they did, they would get the same results. Or Hawkins would be getting better results at Colorado, if it’s simply a matter of the “Boise Way” spinning average recruits into game-day gold.

    Boise has very good players, they have excellent coaches, and they get to play a very soft schedule. But that program in the southeastern US is Southern Miss – a very good program that just can’t convince enough kids not to play for State U.

  15. Tommy B October 23, 2010 at 8:50 am #

    Lets see. Who has the great team of Boise State beat so far.
    # 23, # 31, # 104, #118, #82, and #107

    They should be ranked #22 at best.

  16. Valeda October 23, 2010 at 11:15 am #

    BSU is still anawesome football playing Team, no matter what everyone says! No matter the number of games or anything else, they ROCK! They are a Team made up of players that “want to play”! Sometimes jealousy is a very, very green object that happens! Life goes on, guys and so does BSU!! (and I live in Nevada, but was raised in Idaho!)

  17. MATTHEW October 24, 2010 at 10:33 am #

    I live in Boise and I am a fan. Boise State win or lose is our team. Can we beat every team? No no one can sure you can get a few seasons where you go undefeated but then next seasons you lose one or two. We have been saying we will play any team anywhere and we are always met with the same resounding answer…. No thanks Boise State. @ years from now we get Nebraska,not the great nebraska of old.We will play anyone so bring it on we cant help our schedule, the elitist schools control college football. Any ways im just saying we play like a championship team no matter what we are class and if you think we are weak and dont deserve our ranking.. Bring it on name the time and place. Just dont go making up excuses when Coach Pete and the BRONCOs had you your ass. Just Sayn