BCS Implications Are Gone, But Still One To Watch
Boise State's hopes of a second consecutive BCS bowl appearance were all but dashed in Week 2 against Washington. That same Saturday, the class of Conference USA, Southern Mississippi, eventually fell to Tennessee after a nip-tuck first half. The two meet tomorrow night on the Smurf Turf, and while the game is devoid of BCS busting connotation, it's going to be a prime time battle no college football fan should miss.
Jeff Bower's Golden Eagles haven't exactly flown under the radar, but Southern Miss certainly hasn't garnered the attention of a BSU. Still, this is a program that:
- has won 40 games combined over the last five seasons
- is currently on a three-game bowl win streak
- has appeared in a bowl nine of the last ten years, an accomplishment that traditional powerhouses like Notre Dame and USC cannot claim.
Typically success at a non-BCS conference program is parlayed into a gig elsewhere. Nowhere has this been more evident than at Boise State, where Houston Nutt departed for Arkansas after turning it into a Div. I-A program; Dirk Koetter headed to Arizona State following back-to-back 10-win campaigns; Dan Hawkins went to Colorado in 2005 after amassing a 53-11 record with the Broncos.
Compare that to their opponents: Southern Miss has achieved the above, and it has done so with one man at the helm. If Tommy Lasorda bleeds Dodger Blue, Bower just might have Black-and-Gold pumping through his veins. He was a successful quarterback in Hattiesburg in the mid-1970s and has been head coach for 17 years, in that time molding it into one of the nation's most consistent programs. BSU took steps to follow this formula, locking up current head coach and 2006 Bear Bryant Award winner Chris Petersen for five years.
The battle of wits between BSU's New Standard and USM's Lone Standard will be at the forefront Thursday night. Playing out their Xs and Os, a surprising Boise State defense ranked 14th in the nation against the rush and a Southern Miss ground attack averaging over 180 yards per game.
Sure, the BCS implications are gone. But this should shape up to be the best non-BCS out-of-conference affair of 2007.