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SI.com college football writer Stewart Mandel shares his commentary, analysis and random tidbits on the latest developments around the country.
11/25/2006 07:38:00 PM

Saturday Observations Part II

Oakland Arena
Boise State's Ian Johnson rushed for 147 yards and three touchdowns.
AP
LOS ANGELES -- The day Utah clinched a BCS berth two years ago by beating BYU, the college football media world descended on Salt Lake City. I remember it well. Alex Smith passed for a billion yards. The fans stormed the field. And we went to a press conference afterward and listened to Urban Meyer deny he was headed to Florida. Good times.

Saturday, myself and all those other media types were sitting here in the press box at the Coliseum as Boise State wrapped up its own 12-0 season and Fiesta Bowl berth – and no one around me seemed to care in the slightest. Why is that?

The Broncos’ 38-7 win at 8-3 Nevada may not have been surprising to most (though it did dash yet another one of my ill-fated upset picks), but the performance of Boise State’s defense was nothing short of phenomenal. Jeff Rowe and the Wolf Pack came in averaging nearly 400 yards a game; Boise held them to 133.

It was the crowning performance in an unbelievable season, and yet, the national curiosity factor for Boise State -- which will play either Oklahoma or Nebraska in the Fiesta Bowl -- simply isn’t there. I hear no calls for the Broncos to be included in the national-title discussion like there were for those 2004 Utes (people at least wanted to see them face undefeated Auburn), and, if anything, I’ve read and heard a lot of backlash about the top-12 rule that’s allowing them to appear in the BCS at all. Why is that? I have my theories.

1) There’s no novelty factor. Before Utah crashed the BCS, a lot of us wondered whether it would ever happen. A lot of non-BCS teams had come close in the past but ultimately fallen short. The top-six barrier seemed unreachable. But the Utes did it, lessening the shock value of any future party-crashers.

2) The Broncos aren’t as sexy. A lot of the intrigue surrounding Utah was directly tied to Meyer, Smith and that spread-option offense. Boise is just a good, solid team with a tremendous running back (Ian Johnson) and physical defense. Wins games but doesn’t necessarily steal headlines.

3) The Georgia factor. You wouldn’t think that a game played nearly two full years ago would still have relevance, but I think it does in terms of Boise State’s national image. Ever since that opening-week beatdown at Georgia last season, the perception is that Boise State is a good WAC team but can’t hang with the big boys. This year’s 42-14 rout of Oregon State didn’t seem to change that, even though the Beavers went on to beat USC and finish third in the Pac-10.

Whether you believe some of that, any of that or none at all, it doesn’t change the fact that Boise State deserves its props for a 12-0 season. And now, the university presidents that brokered the BCS/non-BCS five-bowl compromise in 2004 can pat themselves on the back for successfully giving “access” to a non-traditional power.

∙ How much would it have stunk to be a Texas Longhorn today? A day after losing to one rival (Texas A&M), you have to sit on the couch and watch while your other rival, Oklahoma, steals away your once-certain Big 12 title-game berth. It gets worse -- the weekend’s events will likely drop the defending national champions all the way to the Alamo Bowl, with the conference champ going to the Fiesta, the loser going to the Holiday and the Aggies to the Cotton.

Meanwhile, I realize Jim Grobe and Greg Schiano likely have a stranglehold on the national coach of the year awards, but Bob Stoops deserves serious consideration. The Sooners overcame all kinds of adversity (losing their starting quarterback at the start of training camp and their star running back halfway through the year, having a big win stolen from them at Oregon) to reach 10 wins and the conference title game.

∙ I hate to be mean, but you have to admit it was fitting that the Georgia-Georgia Tech game ended with Reggie Ball throwing an interception while missing Calvin Johnson. I didn’t think it was possible, but Ball had his worst Georgia game yet on Saturday (6-of-22 for 42 yards and three turnovers), while Dawgs freshman Matthew Stafford led a game-winning TD drive. Somehow, in spite of their quarterback, the Jackets remain a win away from the BCS.

∙ BYU (10-2) ended its four-game losing streak to archrival Utah in the most dramatic fashion imaginable. John Beck scrambled for what seemed like forever before throwing an 11-yard touchdown -- his fourth of the day -- with no time remaining to win 33-31. That guy has had an unbelievable year. Too bad nobody saw it unless they knew to watch Versus.

∙ Finally, Rice clinched its first bowl berth since 1961 with a 31-27 win over SMU, as touchdown machine Jarrett Dillard caught three more of them to raise his season total to 20.
posted by Stewart Mandel | View comments |

Comments:

Posted: 10:30 PM   by Anonymous
Hey, all you ND whiners who cried foul when Mandel told you how badly USC was going to beat up ND...eat those angry words!

Oh and make note of the 60 yard run by Quinn, if he can do that against USC...think what Troy Smith is gonna do!

Go Bucks!
Posted: 3:26 AM   by Anonymous
Please don't promote anyone other than Jim Grobe for Coach of the Year. It's not even worth the argument as to whether or not he SHOULD win the award (Deacs 10-2 after NEVER having won more than eight games, playing for the ACC title when they were picked DEAD last in the division and lost their starting QB and RB within the first three games of the season, etc.). Sadly, though, he might not unless influential media members (such as yourself!) make as serious push for him!

I'll give you that Stoops has done a phenomenal job and that Schiano has turned Rutgers into a Big East power, but what Grobe is doing at Wake is literally unprecedented in college football.
Posted: 4:49 PM   by Anonymous
I believe that you and all sports writers who are not from the west coast have a natural biase against all west coast teams. Boise State deserves more recognition that you are giving them. They are more than just a team with a good running back. A running back who has more touchdowns this season than any other running back in the country. The running back doesn't make the team. He is only as good as his offensive line. Everyone needs to get over the Georgia game and everything that happened last season. The team has a new coach, there are different players, and its a new season. Take a look at Texas, very good example. They were national champs last year and this year they keep falling in the rankings. Look how they played while Colt McCoy was hurt. Are they just a team with a good quarterback? The Broncos have worked very hard this year to accomplish what they have. They WILL beat the Big-12 champs and hopefully will then start to get the recognition they deserve. Go Broncos!
Posted: 5:10 PM   by Anonymous
I still don't know how anyone can rank USC above Michigan when pretty much all the objective evidence indicates that UM is the better team.

If people truly think USC could beat UM, that's one thing. But anyone who recognizes that UM would probably beat USC on neutral ground should keep UM at 2 and USC at 3.
Posted: 5:27 PM   by Anonymous
when is everyone going to realize how overrated Charlie Weis is. He has beat one top 25 team in 2 years.... Georgia Tech... and GT probably wont be there in the end....
HE IS A OFFENSIVE COORDINATOR> NOT A COACH> you need to fire Weis.. you know have a crappy coach for 10 years. what a waste of money... good job irish.. lucky you have the NBC money to waste.. or you would really be in trouble.
lastly...play some real teams next year...
Posted: 5:41 PM   by Bobby D
Stoops *has* done a good job, but really if you put it into perspective, he and the Sooners got lucky and Stoop's simply made up for one huge past mistake. Pushing Rhett Bomar into the starting QB position last season after giving Paul Thompson a cup of coffee of a start. I always knew Thompson was better than Bomar, maybe I was the only one who saw it. Plus c'mon, Oklahoma gets Top 10 talent..

Now Grobe on the other hand...it should be a landslide. Wake Forest came out of nowhere and had one incredible year!
Posted: 6:24 PM   by Anonymous
Schiano deserves coach of the year with Grobe a distant second. Grobe has done miracles but those miracles are tempered by having the good fortune of being in the Atlantic Division and then not having to play three of the top four teams in the Coastal Div. The only quality win was over B.C. - kudos, but not enough to overtake Schiano whose has beaten all of the upper echelon teams in the big east that he as faced so far - and with one less loss than WF. Its a no-brainer, Schiano deserves the award.
Posted: 6:40 PM   by John
Nice you would recognize Boise State's accomplishments, but don't forget the most important factor: you in the media have ignored BSU because they're from a small TV market. Fact is, no one outside of NY/NJ cares about Rutgers either, but you in the media have crammed them down everyone else's throats all year to draw ratings. BSU's story this year is five times more compelling, put them on your front page every week like you do Rutgers and guess what, people will stand up and take notice. But then you won't, will you?
Posted: 7:08 PM   by Anonymous
bobby D...are you smoking crack? What exactly makes you think Thompson is better than Bomar? Have you watched the games this year? Did you even watch any games last year?
Posted: 7:27 PM   by Anonymous
No doubt there are other excellent coaches this year, but there is just no way that anyone other than Bob Stoops should be the coach of the year. The Sooners encountered one serious adversity after another, and yet they hung together and were more successful than anyone predicted after the Texas game. While lots of players and other coaches share in the success of the O.U. team this year, ultimately, it's Stoops who has made it happen. Coach of the Year? No one except Bob Stoops!
Posted: 7:30 PM   by Anonymous
There are plenty of good coaches this year, but no one is in the same category as Bob Stoops. No other school came close to encountering and triumphing over adversities like the Sooner did this year. The man responsible: Bob Stoops. Coach of the Year? There's no contest. Stoops is the guy!
Posted: 8:19 PM   by Anonymous
Congrats to Boise State for an undefeated season. However, their efforts should not be compared vs. the Scarlet Knights of Rutgers 10-1 competing in one of the most exciting and growing conferences.
What Greg Schiano and staff have done to get Rutgers to this level of playing is truly amazing and they are on such a roll,a anything this year is still possible.
Posted: 8:34 PM   by Anonymous
Let me remind you that Wake Forest also lost their starting QB in the first game of the season. Wake also lost their starting running back, and in an offense that relies heavily on the running game, they have still found a way. They lost their starting offensive tackle and the other running back for three weeks. Wake put a wide receiver at running back to try to fill the whole in their offense.

Not only are these Deacs the first in school history to get 9 wins in a season, they are also the first team in ACC history to go 6-0 on the road.

No contest, Grobe for Coach of the Year. He has literally built this team and has faced much more adversity than Stoops, and possibly every other coach in the nation, maybe with the exception of the magnitude of the adversity that Larry Coker has had to face this season.

And Philox,
I think Wake has had a few more quality wins than just BC. Going 6-0 on the road in hostile environments is no accident. Winning at NC State after they had just beaten FSU and BC was a quality win at that point in the season, especially after the way the team bounced back after the heartbreaking loss against Clemson. Shutting out FSU at home for the first time in 232 games and putting up 30 points making it their worst lost since 1981 is a quality win. Also, the Atlantic Division is stronger than the Coastal Division, look up the standings and the winning percentages of each team.
Posted: 8:41 PM   by trjtrjtrj
Stoops at Oklahoma should be coach of the year. He did the right thing by removing first teamers QB Bomar and OL Quinn just before the season started. The Oregon fiasco happened at a critical junction of the season. And despite losing the best player in college football this season to injury, RB Adrian Peterson, the Sooners continue to get better.

Gobe at WF has also done an outstanding job. But two loses in their own league during a down year for the ACC (see FSU, Miami, ...) and 19 returning starters played into that.

Shiano at Rutgers should finish second. The Scarlet Knights are the toast of the Big East -- I never thought I would say that.

In response to "bobby d": Current QB Thompson *was* the QB last season before freshman Bomar earned the starting role with his performance -- not too surprising considering Bomar was one of the highest rated highschool players signed by OU in the last 10 years. Thankfully for OU, Thompson developed tremendously this year at QB. The credit goes to Thompson, but coaching played a part there as well.
Posted: 8:45 PM   by trjtrjtrj
This post has been removed by a blog administrator.
Posted: 8:49 PM   by Anonymous
Let me remind you that Wake Forest also lost their starting QB in the first game of the season. Wake also lost their starting running back, and in an offense that relies heavily on the running game, they have still found a way. They lost their starting offensive tackle and another running back for three weeks. Wake put a wide receiver at running back to try to fill the whole in their offense.

Not only are these Deacs the first in school history to get 9 wins in a season, they are also the first team in ACC history to go 6-0 on the road.

No contest, Grobe for Coach of the Year. He has literally built this team and has faced much more adversity than Stoops, and possibly every other coach in the nation, maybe with the exception of the magnitude of the adversity that Larry Coker has had to face this season.

And Philox,
I think Wake has had a few more quality wins than just BC. Going 6-0 on the road in hostile environments is no accident. Winning at NC State after they had just beaten FSU and BC was a quality win at that point in the season, especially after the way the team bounced back after the heartbreaking loss against Clemson. Shutting out FSU at home for the first time in 232 games and putting up 30 points making it their worst lost since 1981 is a quality win. Also, the Atlantic Division is stronger than the Coastal Division, look at the standings and the winning percentages of the teams.
Posted: 9:12 PM   by Loso08
I'll keep this short and to the point - and please forgive my redundancy...Notre Dame and Texas = OVERRATED. I am a proponent of a Michigan OSU rematch though that seems unlikely. How do you send a team (even as solid as USC) to the title game when they lost to and unranked? Here's my vote for Michigan-Ohio State II.
Posted: 7:41 PM   by Anonymous
Give Boise State respect -- they are a joke -- I'm not a fan of the BCS BS, but at least we don't have the ridiculous notion of a second tier team like BYU winning the national championship because they are undefeated -- can you imagine how ridiculous it would be if we were in the old system & Boise State beat a team that finished 4th or 5th in its conference & someone upset Ohio State -- there would be some idiots that think they were #1 as BYU was in the past and Utah was two year's ago. The only thing Boise does is take the place of a real 1st tier football team & get a good payday.
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