Tuesday, January 5, 2010

Yes, Boise and TCU belonged

I got done watching an exciting and competitive Fiesta Bowl between two very good teams Monday night and assumed that everyone who watched it came away satisfied. I was wrong:
How do I say this nicely? Boise's 17-10 victory against TCU was as exciting as watching someone watch paint dry. The game didn't lay an egg; it laid an omelet.
Ummm ... what? Were we watching the same game? For whatever reason, the national reaction has been "Meh, I guess those teams were overrated." I'm guessing that the basis for this stupidity is that it turned into a bit more of a defensive battle than expected -- both teams were in the top five nationally in scoring offense -- but why does a defensive game equal a bad game? Isn't it possible for two teams with very good defenses (and just to clarify, both were also ranked in the top 15 in scoring defense) to play a very good and low-scoring game?

To answer my own question: Yes. I guarantee that if Texas and Alabama had been playing (and their game might be pretty similar), we'd be hearing none of this. The casual fan, though, assumes that if you aren't a picture of perfection offensively in every nationally televised game, you must not be very good -- you'd never be able to compete in the Big 12 or the SEC.

This is obviously stupid logic. Let me say this as clearly as possible: A team does NOT equal its competition. The fact that the Broncos cruised through the WAC means only that they're better than everyone in the WAC; it says nothing about how good they are compared with the best teams from other conferences. To figure that out, you'd have to look at results, and their results have been pretty good. In the past three years, Boise has beaten Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, Oregon at Autzen Stadium, Oregon again this year and TCU in the Fiesta Bowl. Don't tell me Boise can't compete with the best just because they play in the WAC; they've beaten the best of the best on a regular basis and probably would have gone unbeaten this year in the Pac-10, Big East, ACC and Big Ten. This is a legitimate top-five team that deserves consideration for the national title.

How much consideration? I don't know (and I never will, unfortunately). But personally, I thought the Fiesta Bowl was one of the better BCS games in the past few years. The fact that both teams played so well defensively just showed how well-rounded they are, and the only thing that can really be determined in the aftermath is that Boise and TCU are almost dead even in terms of quality. One big special-teams play by led to the winning score and one big defensive play sealed the victory; other than that, the game was basically played to a draw.

I wouldn't wanna try to separate the top four or five teams on a final ballot, but I have no qualms at all with saying that both Boise and TCU are extremely good and could compete with anyone else in the country, Alabama and Texas included.

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