The Oregon Ducks did the unthinkable on Saturday as they rallied from a 21-3 deficit to defeat the Stanford Cardinal 52-31. As a result of this victory, something unexpected happened in the polls. Instead of retaining the number four rank, Oregon was moved ahead of the previously third ranked Boise State Broncos. Was it the right move? Well, let's take a look at the arguments for both sides.
The Case For Boise State
Boise State has received a lot of scrutiny over the past five years. Only Ohio State and Southern California have received as much flak.
Boise State is considered an overrated team by many college football fans. They are a smaller university and for years they weren't really popular. Things changed this past decade. They were ranked number 18 in 2005 and sought to build a reputation immediately. They defeated Oklahoma 43-42 in overtime in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl. They repeated that performance last year, defeating TCU 17-10 in the same bowl. This should have silenced the critics, but not all of them have gone away.
Boise State's 2010 schedule is the obvious reason for the move in the polls. They faced previously tenth ranked Virginia Tech in week 1. Virginia Tech slipped out of the rankings after two consecutive losses and have lost their power. The Hokies won last week. However, that was not enough to convince the coaches and media to keep Boise State at number three. They also defeated previously number 24 Oregon State, and that wasn't enough either. The Broncos still have two relatively tough games on their hand as they face Nevada and Fresno State.
It also bears notice that the Nebraska Cornhuskers may not face a ranked team this year, until the Big 12 Championship Game and they are currrently in the top ten. Is that fair? If Nebraska can be ranked in the top 10 without facing any ranked opponents, then why can't Boise State be ranked number three?
Oh, and the Broncos defeated the Ducks last year if that matters.
The Case For Oregon
Why should Boise State be ranked number three? The Ducks beat Stanford into submission with a 21 point victory after trailing 21-3. Stanford is expected to remain ranked for the whole season. Virginia Tech is no longer ranked, so what have the Broncos done to convince the nation that they are the number three team?
Boise State still has to face the Arizona Wildcats and USC Trojans. Also, the Pac Ten is a way tougher conference than the Western Athletic Conference.
The Ducks have taken USC's place as the Pac Ten top dogs and have rightfully earned the outstanding reputation and praise they have received as of late. As college football fans know, USC was very popular after winning a few national championships and making several BCS bowl appearances this past decade. The Ducks are now as popular as the Trojans.
The strength of schedule clearly favors the Ducks.
Are the polls and the BCS just a big popularity contest? Do the Oregon Ducks stand at number three because they deserve it or is it because they are more popular than the Boise State Broncos? A few fans generally complain that some team gets left out every year. The last two or three years, Boise State has been left out of the bigger game(s). Last year undefeated Alabama went up against undefeated Texas. Meanwhile, the other undefeated teams TCU and Boise State were left to go at it in the Fiesta Bowl.
This is a situation where the big name programs got the spotlight and the smaller programs, TCU and Boise State, were not so fortunate.
Even though the season is not completed, the polls can set the stage for a team or teams to be robbed when the time comes.
This fuels the fire for those who want the playoff system as opposed to the current BCS system.