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Labor Day clash may change college football’s future

Originally published in the September 3, 2010 issue

For the first time in the modern era of college football we are looking at the impossible, as a non-BCS team could play for a national championship.

In an NCAA sport where the rich get richer we might finally see some parity.

Everyone remembers when little Appalachian State took down mighty Michigan 34-32 in the Big House in one of the greatest college football games of the 2000’s.

But that is far from the trend.

There have been five non-BCS teams in the last ten years to beat a top 25-team.

That all can change. The Boise State Broncos have a chance to change the course of college football history.

For the first time ever, a non-BCS school is ranked in the top five to start a season. Boise State begins the year ranked third in the Associated Press poll and fifth in the USA Today coach’s poll.

Perhaps the biggest game of the season takes place Monday night when the Broncos travel cross-country to face No. 10 ranked Virginia Tech.

If Boise State can defeat national power Va. Tech its last remaining obstacle from perfection and a likely spot in the national championship may be a Sept. 25 matchup in Boise against No. 24 ranked Oregon State.

Boise State has proven they belong in the same breath with the rest of the college football elites. In three of the last four seasons they have completed an undefeated regular season and twice Boise State won the Fiesta Bowl. The first BCS bowl win came in 2006 when the Broncos famously upset Oklahoma in overtime.

This year Boise State shouldn’t miss a beat. Last season the Broncos went 13-0 and won its second Fiesta Bowl. This year they return 21 of 22 starters, including potential Heisman candidate, junior quarterback Kellen Moore.

Besides Va. Tech and Oregon State the Broncos play two other very winnable non-conference games against Toledo and Wyoming before embarking on the conference part of its schedule.

Boise State plays in the Western Athletic Conference and has won 64 of its last 66 conference games. No matter how weak the WAC is as a conference it is incredibly impressive the streak the Broncos have put together.

On Labor Day night when Boise State takes the field in Landover, Md., against Va. Tech it will be a game with implications that could change the course of college football history.

If Boise State wins they will likely play for a National Championship in January. If Va. Tech wins we may never see another non-BCS team ranked that high at the start of a season again and thus may never see a non-BCS team get a shot at a championship.

Part of the formula for determining the final BCS rankings at the end of the season is where a team begins the year ranked. If a team starts in the low teens or in the twenties, it is impossible to overcome even if they finish the year unbeaten.

As a fan of college football, I can’t help but root for Boise State to do what was thought to be impossible just ten years ago. Parity in any sport makes the game that much more enjoyable. Upsets are what make sports great.

If non-BCS teams begin to emerge across the country and can compete with the nations best, it will mean a much better and exciting game.

So here’s to hoping for the impossible. Monday night I’ll be rooting for the not so little guy.

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