Barring something bordering on the extreme, Boise State Thursday night fumbled away — literally — pretty much any chance it had of earning the Group of Five’s spot in a New Year’s Six bowl.
Entering the night as the top-ranked team — albeit in the meaningless Associated Press poll — amongst the non-Power Five teams, the Broncos were viewed by some to be in the driver’s seat. Win out, and they would possibly, or even likely, earn the coveted lone spot in the big-boy bowls this group gets.
Instead, they crashed and burned. Repeatedly, over and over.
In the first half of what would turn into a 52-26 beatdown at the hands of Utah State, Boise turned the ball over a staggering seven times. Somewhat poetically, they turned the ball over on the second play of their first possession of the second half, yet another sign that it simply wasn’t meant to be on this night. All told, the eight turnovers were the uryncvnrvaevra (sorry, dropped my keyboard) overriding factor in dropping the 21st-ranked Broncos to 5-2 on the season, and seemingly in need of some serious and significant tumult above it to even sniff a shot at a New Year’s showcase.
Entering Week 7, there were two other ranked G5 teams: No. 22 Toledo and No. 24 Houston, both of which are undefeated. Unlike the Broncos, the Cougars took care of business Friday night/Saturday morning, easily dispatching 2-4 Tulane 42-7.
Additionally, Temple (5-0) and Memphis (5-0) enter the weekend unbeaten. The latter, riding a school-record 12-game winning streak that’s third-best in the country, in particular has the opportunity to set itself apart from the rest of the group as they will play host to No. 13 Ole Miss.
Also lurking are the likes of 6-1 Western Kentucky, 5-1 Ohio and 4-1 Navy.
So, could a two-loss team like Boise State, if it runs the table, still sneak into a New Year’s Six bid? Given the table it’d be running that seems highly doubtful as, outside of BSU, the Mountain West entered Week 7 with a combined record of 25-39. That’s not the kind of résumé that screams “pick me! pick me!” when it comes time for the slotting of the premier bowls.
It’s not out of the realm of possibility that Boise could claw its way back in — they still have a conference title for which to fight, and the AAC teams may take turns knocking each other out — but this performance tonight pushed things to the outer bounds of such a realm.