Challenges to Boise State’s title credentials have a common, Cowherdian claim. “Let’s see them play in an SEC schedule.” Curious website Draftopia ran simulations to find out how Boise State would fare with Alabama’s schedule. Their numbers show the Broncos would not be as dominant as Alabama, but still would be formidable and would be favored in every game. Alabama won 11.2 games and had a 35.2 percent chance of going undefeated. Boise State won 10.1 games and had a 9.5 percent chance for an undefeated season. Case closed? Not quite.
The simulations are only as good as the data used and the data needs further explanation. Boise State scores significantly more points in the simulations. Was this taken from raw offensive statistics? They did get better offensive production than Alabama last year. So did Houston, Nevada, Troy, Central Michigan and Idaho. Did Boise State have a more explosive offense than Alabama or just easier opponents?
Boise State is supposed to run up 39 pts against Florida’s defense? In 2008 and 2009, Florida did not allow more than 32 points and allowed an opponent more than 24 points only twice. Once was against Mississippi, because they fumbled twice within their own 35 yard line. The Gators held a tough schedule of opponents to 10 points or fewer in the 13 of the 28 games. Boise State scoring 39 might be a bit optimistic.
Statistics also ignore the psychological factors that make playing in a conference such as the SEC or the Big Ten difficult. Ohio State has been dominant under Jim Tressel. The Buckeyes have won tough against against Penn State, Wisconsin, Iowa and Michigan, but they have also slipped seemingly innocuous Purdue, Illinois and Northwestern teams. Those teams have been playing and watching film on Ohio State for years. Players played each other in high school. The rivalry is more intense. Those were all Ohio State wins on paper. The ceiling of opposition is higher, but so, on any given day, is the basement. The pressure that Boise State had to adjust to for the Oregon State game was “Saturday” in the SEC.
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