CBSSports.com Senior Writer

Don't worry, Boise, it's too early to jump to crazy conclusions

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Someone please tell me if Alabama is absolutely going to beat Auburn 2½ months now.

Then bet your house on it. The kids' college money, too.

To say that Boise State's credibility takes a hit because of Va. Tech's loss is just silly. (AP)  
To say that Boise State's credibility takes a hit because of Va. Tech's loss is just silly. (AP)  
Now tell me how about the day after. Michigan going to Ohio State on Nov. 27 suddenly doesn't look like such a walkover for the Buckeyes, does it?

What's that, you're saying nothing is certain? You're saying let the season play out?

Tell it to Boise State, which had its season ended Saturday on a day when it didn't play. Its year was ruined by the former Industrial School for Women, otherwise known as James Madison. You might have noticed the Dukes put up their dukes and won at Virginia Tech.

Nice bye week, Boise. You lost to a team you didn't play. That top 10 Virginia Tech team you beat last week no longer exists. It has been replaced by the shamed Hokies, another I-AA victim in an early season full of them.

I'm kidding, of course. Certain others aren't. The logic goes this way: Boise can't possibly play for the national championship because it nearly lost to the team that lost to the team. It's called BCS guilt by association.

And it's wrong. At least flawed.

"It's too early to say anything definite," said Jerry Palm, CBSSports.com contributor and master of collegebcs.com

That doesn't stop some from saying it anyway. True, Boise's already sketchy schedule strength just took another hit. To some, James Madison's win was a mortal blow, destroying Boise's "credibility".

It's what we do. It's who we are. We want closure. Denard Robinson just won the Heisman, didn't he? As usual we're assuming way too much. We've put the season in the transporter and fast-forwarded to the first week of December. Boise State did not make the cut.

Dodd's Power Poll
1. Alabama
2. Boise State
3. Ohio State
4. Oregon
5. TCU
6. Florida
7. Michigan
8. Oklahoma
9. Texas
10. Wisconsin
11. Iowa
12. Nebraska
13. South Carolina
14. USC
15. Pittsburgh
16. Auburn
17. Arkansas
18. LSU
19. Stanford
20. Utah
21. West Virginia
22. Miami
23. Texas Tech
24. Georgia
25. Air Force

Just to recap, strength of schedule exists only in our minds. For BCS purposes, strength of schedule exists only in the minds of the Harris and coaches poll voters. The BCS' strength of schedule component was removed in 2004. It was deemed redundant in that the voters and computers already have built-in biases. None of which we can identify with any week-to-week certainty.

So what we have left is actual games to be played, almost three months' worth. The national discussion was filled last week with reasons Boise shouldn't or couldn't play for it all. An undefeated Boise, for example, would have a hard time jumping a one-loss major conference champion.

That's code for Alabama. Or Florida.

But what if that loss comes on that last day of the season? Those tend to be weighted more, even though Nebraska (2001), Oklahoma (2003) and LSU (2007) either lost their last regular-season game or conference championship game and still played for the title.

What if Virginia Tech wins its next 10 in a row, say, and still wins the ACC? It could happen the same way James Madison happened.

"It's one game for one of Boise's opponents," Palm added. "It's only a problem, really, if Virginia Tech isn't really as good as we thought. If they go on to be 7-5 or 6-6, it diminishes the value of the [Boise] win.

"Virginia Tech can still go 10-3 or 11-2. If that loss becomes ... a blip, it's one of those things. The problem is for Boise is they're only playing two good teams. They can't afford for one of them to stink."

The best comparison might be 2008. Boise went 12-0 in the regular season, finishing ninth in the BCS. Its best win was over an Oregon team that went 9-3 in the regular season and finished 17th in the BCS. Seven one-loss teams and one undefeated team (Utah) finished ahead of Boise.

That season Boise started the season ranked 11th in the AP, debuted 12th in the BCS and never rose higher than those three spots to ninth. Whether you like it or not, the voters have decided that Boise has paid its dues. The Broncos have started high (No. 3 after two weeks) and play not one but two BCS teams this season. Oregon State comes to town in two weeks.

"If your schedule is married to one or two teams, you're really dependent on how those teams do," Palm said. "It's bad if this [Virginia Tech] is an indication."

It's up to the Beavers to lose to Boise, then win the Pac-10. Oregon State has much more influence than James Madison, though. It could actually beat the Broncos head-to-head.


Anyone in need of a credential from all the BCS title games? Dennis Dodd has them. In three decades in the business, he's covered everything from the Olympics to Stanley Cup to conference realignment. Just get him on campus in a press box in the fall. His heart lies with college football.
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