Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Boise State 2nd Vs. Elite Teams In Last Five Years

Despite Boise State’s tremendous success against all odds in the last five years, a few naysayers remain. 

They say that Boise State doesn’t play a tough schedule being in the Western Athletic Conference.  Of course, that will all change when the Broncos enter their third conference since beginning major college football in 1996.  Next fall, Boise State will play in the Mountain West Conference.

Nevertheless, to go along with the argument, Boise State could not beat the great teams on a regular basis.

There are many ways to measure the “power” in a powerhouse college football team.  One of the best is to look at how they did against other powers.  For this study, we will look at the 35 college football teams that have finished in the Top 15 in the USA Today rankings in at least once in the last four years.  We will go over their schedules with a fine-toothed comb and evaluate how each of the 35 did against other Top 15 teams.  We will call those games “power games”.  Let us see exactly how Boise State has done in power games, compare the number of power games that the Broncos have played vs. those that other Top 15 teams have played, and see how the teams do out of conference.

Coach Chris Petersen’s team wins when they play elite competition.  The Broncos are 5-2, the second-best mark in the nation over four years.  USC’s  7-3 record tops everyone, although it is less sparkling than last year with losses to Stanford and Oregon this past year.   West Virginia (3-2) and Auburn (7-6) are the only other teams with winning records against Top 15 competition.

Boise State ranks ninth in the nation in wins over teams that finished in the Top 15 in the last five years (Power Schedule). These rankings give credit to those powers that face a tough schedule year-in and year-out and break ties by looking at which team played the most power games over the four-year period.

Florida (7-7), Texas (6-6), LSU 6-11), Ohio State (6-6) Oklahoma (6-7) and Alabama are the other teams that have more wins against elite teams than Boise State.  Georgia, Boise State’s opponent in 2011, also has five wins against elite teams. 

Playing power teams within your own conference is one thing.  Those are games that essentially are “scheduled for you”.  Despite the Automatic Qualifying Conferences saying Boise State could not win week in and week out in a conference like theirs, notice that not one of these conferences has invited supposed weakling Boise State into their conference so they could beat up on them!

So since the other power teams have neither beaten Boise State nor joined them, they essentially have shut the Broncos out of their system while at the same time decrying their success achieved against anyone who will play them. 

Since Boise State was not been invited to any of the AQ conferences during the “Great Expansion of 2010”, they have tried to schedule games against the power teams out-of-conference.  Many have refused, as has been well chronicled in the media.  To their great credit, a few have accepted, while a few others have been forced to play the Broncos in a bowl game.

Although all of the teams listed in the rankings have finished one or multiple years in the final USA Today Coaches’ Poll Top 15, it is noteworthy that several have less than sterling records against other power teams.  These teams, in fact, do not win “week in and week out”.

In conclusion, Boise State matches up well against the other power teams no matter what formula you care to investigate.  They are second in the nation in one ranking and ninth in the other.

Here is how the power teams of the last five years stack up.  (Teams with winning records are ranked by winning percentage; teams with losing records are ranked first by number of Top 15 wins and then by least number of losses.)

Best Five-Year Record:
1.  USC 7-3
2.  Boise State 5-2
3.  West Virginia 3-2
4.  Auburn 7-6
5.  Florida 7-7
6.  Texas 6-6
6.  Ohio State 6-6
8.  Oklahoma 6-7
9.  Alabama 6-9
10.  LSU 6-11
11.  Georgia 5-7
12.  Iowa 4-7
13.  Stanford 3-5
14.  TCU 3-6
15.  Oregon 3-9
15.  Texas Tech 3-9
17.  Arkansas 3-15
18.  Boston College 2-3
19.  Georgia Tech 2-7
19.  Missouri 2-7
19.  Virginia Tech 2-7
22.  California 2-8
22.  Cincinnati 2-8
22.  Utah 2-8
25.  Wisconsin 2-9
26.  Michigan 2-12
27.  Mississippi 2-14
27.  Tennessee 2-14
29.  Louisville 1-4
29.  Nevada 1-4
29.  Pittsburgh 1-4
29.  Rutgers 1-4
33.  Kansas 1-7
34.  Michigan State 1-9
35.  Penn State 1-10
36.  Nebraska 1-14
37.  BYU 0-5
38.  Arizona State 0-11
39.  Oklahoma State 0-14

Power Schedule:
1.  Florida 7-7
2.  USC 7-3
3.  LSU 6-11
4.  Alabama 6-9
5.  Oklahoma 6-7
6.  Texas 6-6
7.  Georgia 5-7
8.  Ohio State 5-5
9.  Boise State 5-2
10.  Iowa 4-7
11.  Arkansas 3-15
12.  Oregon 3-9
13.  Texas Tech 3-7
14.  Auburn 3-6
14.  TCU 3-6
16.  Stanford 3-5
17.  West Virginia 3-2
18.  Tennessee 2-14
18.  Mississippi 2-14
20.  Michigan 2-12
21.  Wisconsin 2-9
22.  Cincinnati 2-8
22.  Utah 2-8
22.  California 2-8
25.  Georgia Tech 2-7
25.  Missouri 2-7
25.  Virginia Tech 2-7
28.  Boston College 2-3
29.  Nebraska 1-14
30.  Penn State 1-10
31.  Michigan State 1-9
32.  Kansas 1-7
33.  Louisville 1-4
33.  Nevada 1-4
33.  Pittsburgh 1-4
33.  Rutgers 1-4
37.  Oklahoma State 0-14
38.  Arizona State 0-11
39.  BYU 0-5