A bit of a surprise in the newest College Football Playoff rankings unveiled Tuesday night was good news for the Boise State Broncos.
Boise State (9-1) jumped from No. 22 to 20, passing Western Michigan, which remained 21st. That’s huge for the Broncos, who are now the highest-ranked Group of Five conference team. Should Boise State remain in front of Western Michigan, which it likely will, and if it gets into the Mountain West championship, a win there would almost certainly mean a Cotton Bowl berth as the top-ranked Group of Five conference champion.
Of course, that requires Boise State to win Friday at home against UNLV (4-6) and Nov. 25 at Air Force (7-3). The Broncos also would need Wyoming to lose one of its final two games to win the Mountain Division title. They would then face San Diego State, which is currently 9-1. A win there would be more impressive than any Western Michigan has, so it would keep the Broncos in front for that New Years Six bowl.
Also, the Mountain West’s criteria for hosting the Mountain West championship is College Football Playoff ranking. San Diego State is unranked, unlikely to leap Boise State if the Broncos win out, so it likely will be held at Albertsons Stadium if the Broncos and Aztecs meet.
The Broncos have no doubt been helped by their Sept. 10 win over Washington State. The Cougars have won eight straight and are No. 22 in the CFP rankings. In a teleconference after the rankings were announced, committee chairman Kirby Hocutt said the Broncos moved up because of their win over the Cougars, and that Western Michigan has just one win over a Football Bowl Subdivision team with a winning record. Boise State has three.
“We spent a great deal of time yesterday as well as today on that particular ranking, No. 20 Boise State, No. 21 Western Michigan. It was debated. It went back and forth in our room,” Hocutt said. “Western Michigan at this point only has one win against an FBS team that has a winning record, and that's against a 6-4 team. Boise State, when you look at the quality win they had over Washington State, a Washington State team that continues to improve week to week, the committee continues to place high value on that quality win and believes that Boise State deserved to jump over Western Michigan into that 20 spot this week.”
After the rankings were announced, Boise State quickly announced its own promotion. From the school:
“The Boise State football team checked in at No. 20 in Tuesday’s release of the College Football Playoff Rankings, and in honor of the team’s standing, Boise State Athletics is offering $20 tickets for Friday’s game against UNLV.
Friday night’s game, also Senior Night, is scheduled for 7 p.m. at Albertsons Stadium.
To access the promotion, head to BroncoSports.com/tickets and use the promo code RANKING.”
Here are some updated bowl projections from national writers (posted before CFP rankings).
Sporting News: vs. Old Dominion in Hawaii
Fox Sports: vs. Arizona State in Las Vegas
Sports Illustrated: vs. Arizona State in Las Vegas
CBS Sports: vs. Arizona State in Las Vegas
Boise State coach Bryan Harsin said Tuesday he doesn’t have any regrets playing 10 true freshmen this season, even though he hasn’t been able to play most of them as much as he would have liked.
“We don’t regret it, because the guys are getting a lot of work in practice,” Harsin said. “This is going to pay off down the road. Certainly would like to get them some more opportunities, we just haven’t been able to do that.”
Harsin pointed to wide receiver Bubba Ogbebor as one he wished would have played more at this point, but the veterans ahead of him have played too well to keep them off the field. Some are playing well and playing large roles, including running back Alexander Mattison (283 rushing yards) and safety Kekoa Nawahine (10 tackles, one for loss). Seven of the 10 who have played are on the defensive side of the ball.
“We’re getting to that point in the season ... they’re able to hold their own,” defensive coordinator Andy Avalos said. “Now we’re able to start seeing that with the guys playing at a young age.”
The biggest contribution on that side of the ball has been from cornerback DeAndre Pierce, who has mainly played at nickel, making 17 tackles, including a big hit Saturday at Hawaii.
Pierce’s father, Antonio, a Pro Bowl linebacker, was very happy to see it.
The 10 true freshmen (the most in at least a decade) who have played are: Ogbebor, Mattison, Nawahine, Pierce, defensive tackles Chase Hatada, Sonatane Lui and Emmanuel Fesili, linebacker Tyson Maeva, cornerback Reid Harrison-Ducros and long snapper Nicholai Pitman.
Boise State’s internal players of the week were quarterback Brett Rypien (offense), safety Chanceller James (defense), guard Travis Averill (offensive line), defensive tackle David Moa (defenisve line) and Pitman and junior receiver Brock Barr (special teams).