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Boise State and Ball State, Both 11-0, Are Really Unbeaten But Untested, Overrated Top 25 Teams
Boise State and Ball State are both 11-0 so far this season and have earned bragging rights. After all, these are 2 of 4 teams that remain undefeated among the 119 schools in Division 1-A at this point in the college football season. Utah is 12-0 and Alabama is 11-0.
Entering Saturday’s competition (11/22/08), Alabama was ranked No. 1 in the AP Top 25 poll, Utah was No. 8, Boise State was No. 9, and Ball State was No. 14. Perhaps even more importantly, the BCS rankings had Alabama at No. 1, Utah at No. 7, Boise State at No. 9, and Ball State at No. 17.
I have no problem with Alabama and Utah ranking in either poll, but I have serious issues with Boise State and Ball State being ranked so high.
Players, coaches, fans, boosters and citizens of Boise, Idaho (home of the Boise State Broncos) and Muncie, Indiana (home of the Ball State Cardinals) should be understandably excited about the success of their teams.
There should be a lot of hype and shouting in Boise and Muncie. It’s not easy to stay undefeated through 11 games when competing at any level.
That said, my gag complex is on red alert because I think Boise State and Ball State are just the 9th and 17th best teams in the country, according to BCS rankings. The strength of the calendar apparently has no influence on the BCS ranking.
Entering Saturday’s competition, Boise State’s schedule strength was 123rd and Ball State’s was 127th among 119 Division 1-A schools, according to Sagarin College Football Ratings.
This means that both teams have built their undefeated records on teams that average below Division 1-A caliber. I find this to be a serious flaw in their armor.
Last season, the Hawaii Warriors battled their way to a 12-0 record before winning a BCS Sugar Bowl date with Georgia and then losing 41-10 to the Bulldogs. And exactly how did Hawaii build that undefeated 12-0 mark that left them with a No. 10 ranking in the final AP Top 25 poll? Glad you finally asked. Here’s how:
The 12 teams the Hawaii Warriors beat had a combined 53-92 win-loss record for a high winning percentage of .365 (37%). Their casualties included 1-11 Northern Colorado (a 1-AA team), 1-11 Idaho, 2-10 UNLV, 2-10 Utah State, 4-9 New Mexico State, 4-9 Washington, 5-7 Louisiana Tech, 5-7 San Jose State, 5-6 Charleston Southern (another 1-AA team), 6-6 Nevada, 8-4 Fresno State and 10-2 Boise State.
You could call Fresno State and Boise State good teams with a straight face. I don’t know what the other 10 teams are except mediocre, bad to terrible.
Was Hawaii really the 10th best Sugar Bowl team in the country? Not on your life. The thing is, Hawaii could have been easily beaten by a lot more teams than they played last year.
Not to be outdone by Hawaii, this year no less than 3 undefeated non-major conference teams rose from the ashes with hopes of a BCS Bowl Game-12-0 Utah Mountain West Conference opportunity, 11-0 Boise State of the Western Athletic Conference and 11-0 Ball State of the Mid American Conference.
I have no problem with Utah since their schedule strength is only 4 points less than No. 1 ranked Alabama 11-0, 72-76. If you’re wondering, Florida n No. 3 (10-1) is ranked 8th in schedule strength and No. 4 Texas (10-1) is ranked 7th in schedule strength heading into Saturday’s competition.
If Alabama makes it to the BCS National Championship Game, the Crimson Tide could be in for a little surprise.
Boise State built its undefeated 11-0 record this year winning against teams with a combined 58-77 record for a .429 (43%) winning percentage. Bronco casualties have included 1-11 Idaho State (a 1-AA team), 2-10 Idaho, 2-9 Utah State, 3-8 New Mexico State, 5-6 Bowling Green, 5-6 Southern Mississippi, 6 – 6 San Jose State, 6-5 Hawaii, 6-5 Nevada, 7-4 Louisiana State, 7-4 Fresno State and 8-3 Oregon.
You could call the good teams from Fresno State and Oregon, but the others aren’t even on the radar screen of good in every way.
The Boise State Broncos went an undefeated 12-0 regular season in 2006 and faced Oklahoma in the BCS Fiesta Bowl, winning 43-42 in overtime to record a historic win by a midlevel team on a program of major and loaded football. It was a glorious moment for Boise State and its boosters.
One has to wonder, however, what Boise State’s record would have been that year if the Broncos had faced Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Nebraska (teams with a combined record of 36-8) as Oklahoma had to do it this year. Boise State certainly wouldn’t have gone into the Fiesta Bowl with a 12-0 mark.
Ball State built its undefeated 11-0 record this year by winning against teams with a combined 51-82 record for a .383 (38%) winning percentage. Cardinal’s casualties have included 2-10 Northeastern (a 1-AA school), 2-9 Western Kentucky (another 1-AA school), 2-9 Eastern Michigan, 2-9 Miami of Ohio, 3-9 Indiana, 3-8 Kent State, 3-8 Toledo, 5-6 Akron, 6-4 Navy, 6-5 Northern Illinois, 8-3 Central Michigan and 9-2 Western Michigan.
If Ball State had played Texas, Texas Tech, Oklahoma State and Nebraska (teams with a combined 36-8 record) like Oklahoma had to this year, there’s no way that the Cardinals are 11-0.
Is Ball State the 17th best team in America? I doubt. If Ball State wins a better bowl game against a worthy opponent, it will be interesting to see how the Cardinals fare.
Utah, Boise State and Ball State will be able to bring their game during the bowl season. If they’re playing more than a rinky-dinky game of bowling, that will mean something.
Copyright © 2008 Ed Bagley
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