The Boise State football teams Bowl Championship Series hopes vanished about 24 hours after they were revived.
The Broncos only gained two spots, to No. 20, in the standings released Sunday evening despite losses by the seven teams ranked immediately in front of them. Combined with Kent States No. 17 ranking and Northern Illinois No. 21 ranking, there is little conceivable chance that the Broncos could qualify for a BCS berth.
The Broncos would need to beat Nevada on Saturday (1:30 p.m. MST, ABC), reach the top 16 and finish ahead of Fridays Mid-American Conference championship game winner (Kent State vs. Northern Illinois) to qualify.
The problem is Boise States computer ranking of No. 30, dragged down by a soft schedule.
Its Kent State or nobody for the automatic bid available to non-BCS teams, CBSSports.com analyst Jerry Palm tweeted Sunday.
With the BCS all but eliminated, the Broncos almost certainly are headed to the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas on Dec. 22 for a date with a Pac-12 team. The Mountain West has filled its spots in the Armed Forces Bowl (Air Force) and New Mexico Bowl (Nevada), and MAACO has released San Diego State for its expected invitation to the Poinsettia Bowl.
That leaves MAACO and the Hawaii Bowl for Boise State (9-2) and Fresno State (9-3). The Broncos, who already have played in Hawaii this season, arent expected to return there. The only seemingly viable Mountain West bowl option other than Las Vegas was New Mexico, which invited Nevada on Sunday to jump-start ticket sales.
MAACO cant invite Boise State until Sunday because of the BCS race. It had to hold Fresno State in case it somehow loses Boise State.
But the Broncos national ranking (No. 15 in the USA Today Coaches Poll), name brand and history of bringing fans to Las Vegas make them the clear front-runner.
Boise State beat Utah in 2010 and Arizona State in 2011 in the MAACO Bowl.
The Broncos are so attractive to Las Vegas that their game against Nevada is considered almost inconsequential. Boise State needs to beat Nevada to earn a share of the Mountain West title with Fresno State and San Diego State.
If they lose, theyre still one of our two teams, said Dan Hanneke, executive director of the MAACO Bowl. I dont know how much it has a bearing in our final decision because again its such a good program with a good fan base. Were familiar with them and theyre familiar with us. We know their fans would come and support it. Thats what I have to look at. Even if they would lose Saturday, theyd probably come back with a vengeance in a bowl game, getting ready for next year.
The most intrigue in the Broncos bowl situation surrounds the opponent in MAACO. Upset losses by Washington and Arizona left four Pac-12 teams with 7-5 records the other two are Arizona State and USC.
Oregon and the Pac-12 champion (Stanford or UCLA) are expected to go to BCS bowls.
Three other bowls select Pac-12 teams before MAACO the Alamo, Holiday and Sun bowls. They are expected to take, in some order, the Pac-12 runner-up, Oregon State (8-3) and USC. Those decisions likely will wait until Sunday because of the BCS.
Its possible one of those games could take Washington or Arizona State and send Oregon State or USC to Las Vegas, but not likely.
Oregon State would seem an easy choice for MAACO. USC is more complicated.
The only thing you have to be careful with with a team like USC is because of the season and results, are the fans going to be following? Hanneke said. I would think somebody would be interested in USC probably before we would, but Boise State-USC would be a great matchup.
More likely, Hanneke said, hell have Washington, Arizona and Arizona State available. He has ruled out a Boise State-Arizona State rematch.
However, he has no problem matching Boise State and Washington teams that play in the 2013 season opener Aug. 31 in Seattle.
For our game, that would be a pretty attractive matchup, Hanneke said.
Boise State has expressed concerns about playing the Huskies two games in a row, he said. Washington has not.
Theyd love to be in Las Vegas, Hanneke said. I think theyd love to play Boise State. It would be a great game for the fans and TV and everything else.
Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat