The real No. 1? How about Boise State?

Michael Moses

I love sports movies based on controversies and underdog stories. Flicks like “Hoosiers” and “Remember the Titans” give me goose bumps. “Happy Gilmore” and “The Mighty Ducks” made me laugh, but at the same time made me feel good at the end for the victor. “Rudy,” “Cinderella Man,” “Glory Road,” “Coach Carter,” “The Express” and “The Karate Kid” are all phenomenal stories of struggles teams or individuals face to reach superiority. The cinemas are lacking in that department these days, but college football is about to save them.

The Western Athletic Conference isn’t supposed to produce top-five football teams, let alone the No. 1 team in the nation. That’s supposed to belong to a school that hails from a major conference, like the Big Ten or Southeastern Conference . This week, Ohio State slid into the No. 1 spot after Alabama lost to South Carolina.

Two things are wrong with this picture. For one, Alabama should not have dropped out of the top five, and two, Ohio State should not be No. 1. The Boise State Broncos should.

Please, before you read on, throw all of your personal feelings away. Forget what analysts on ESPN are saying about Boise State and Ohio State. I will admit I am on the bandwagon (heck, I’m probably driving it), but so is the rest of the country. Focus on the facts.

The first thing critics say is that Boise State comes from a weak conference, therefore plays weak competition. For these reasons, they should never be ranked No. 1 and given a chance to play in the national championship. Now, look at Ohio State’s out of conference opponents thus far: Marshall (1-4, from Conference USA), Ohio University (3-3, from Mid-American Conference), Eastern Michigan (0-6, from MAC), and Miami (3-2, from Atlantic Coast Conference). The Buckeyes scheduled one challenging game, Miami. Take away “The U” and their opponents’ combined record is a dismal 4-13. They beat these teams by an average of 43.2 points. Oh, and even Miami dropped out of the Top 25 this past week after getting hammered by Florida State.

The Buckeyes struggled in their first conference game at Illinois. So far, I’m not impressed by the Buckeyes’ strength of schedule. They have not been challenged and have proved nothing.

As for the Broncos, the team that supposedly never plays anyone — bite your tongue, critics. Their four out-of-conference matchups were against challenging teams, including Oregon State and Virginia Tech, both top-25 teams in the nation at the time they played Boise State. The other out-of-conference games were Wyoming and Toledo, two respectable programs that are better than the opponents of Ohio State. Boise State’s opponent’s combined record is 12-11. Strength of schedule advantage? Boise State.

Boise is ranked 14th in the country in total passing, compared to Ohio State’s 37th. Boise’s rushing attack is ranked 15th in the nation, compared to the Buckeye’s 20th in the nation. Offensive advantage? Boise State.

The Broncos are 39-1 the past three seasons and off to another perfect start this year. They have two BCS bowl victories in the past four years. They beat the teams they’re supposed to beat (Toledo, New Mexico State, Wyoming) by a combined score of 167-20. They know they have to play to get noticed, and they are.

Those are the facts, but there are many more reasons why a mid-major deserves a chance at the big dogs. First, it’s great for college football itself. An underdog story is loved by anyone that has a soul. Coach Chris Petersen and the Broncos have had to prove themselves since their epic upset of Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl.

Time and time again, they come out on top. And the best thing is that they aren’t lobbying for attention: “I did not vote us No. 1. I appreciate all your guys attention in that, but that’s the last time I’m going to talk about all that until December,” Petersen said at his weekly press conference Monday.

College football is always criticized for its “computer system” picking the top teams. With Boise State possibly taking the top spot in this season’s first BCS rankings, which come out next week, it could finally be the deciding factor to move on to a playoff system.

Think about it: People don’t want Boise State at No. 1, but computers point them out as No. 1? The NCAA would be criticized beyond belief. To that, all I can say is hallelujah!

If the Broncos are going to be remembered for anything, it might as well be that. The NCAA is all about making money with its bowl games. It’s only fitting that the mid-major brings down not only the top teams, but also the NCAA itself.

Hollywood needs a new blockbuster sports movie. People need another feel-good story. Lucky for them, it’s being written right before their eyes in Boise, Idaho.

Contact Michael Moses at [email protected].