Looking at several BYU season previews, I have to admit the Cougs are in a better position than most in the MWC. There have even been some whispers that if BYU can accomplish the unthinkable (topple Oklahoma) that they could get a potential sniff at the National Title.
I personally don't buy into all the hoopla, (the fact that the Cougars are our bitter rivals is the LEAST of why this is so). However, BYU has the potential advantage of being the first non-BCS conference team to bust the BCS with one loss (It should be noted that TCU came damn close last year). Utah will not be forgiven so easily, a season opening loss would be a disaster in countless ways, but getting back to my point, I ask the question: what would be the formula for making a NT appearance for a non-BCS school?,.Here's my theory of ingredients:
1. A respectable pre-season ranking:
In 2004, we all saw just how much a pre-season ranking helped out the Utes, had it not been so, there is no doubt Utah would have not been playing Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl. In order to make something that big happen, you need to have a really good foundation to start.
2. A respectable non- conference schedule
This is an ingredient that I believe BYU has this year, but unfortunately (in my opinion) it wont be enough. Even though many complain about the MWC being inferior to the BCS leagues (I'll refrain from answering that accusation being it would take a whole post on and of itself) I'm sure most will admit BYU's non conference schedule looks pretty good. I tip my hat to what Utah did in 2008, but the fact of the matter is we did have a very favorable path to the BCS. Michigan was a huge question mark and we had a Division II school on our non conference schedule (not to mention our less than talented rivals: The Aggie's) . My point is if you want to make big noise you gotta break a couple of big heads to do it.
3. A year similar to 2007 (i.e. LOTS of upsets),plus a strong finish
2007 was a very interesting year, It was amazing that no one could stay in the #1 spot for more than a week before they got toppled too. I admit sometimes I think about the "what ifs". What if Utah had it's great run in 2007 instead of last year. We would had a pretty good resume (Oregon St., UCLA, and Louisville) and probably could have made a pretty convincing argument over a freaking 2 loss SEC team. Upsets had a lot to do with Utah first BCS appearance (remember the BCS was actually harder to bust back then) and all laments of fairness aside, the fact is no one will take an undefeated MWC team over a good Pac-10, SEC or Big-12 School. The home stretch plays a HUGE part cause college football is VERY unforgiving to teams that lose late in the season.
4. Not one but TWO undefeated seasons in a row
As I stated earlier, even BYU has a slim chance to go even if they did run the table this year, Why? look back at 2008 for them, all the decent teams they faced beat them rather comfortably. With that said, the BCS is very unforgiving to "one-hit wonders". Consistency is everything in college football, and as such, two undefeated seasons in a row would be a hard arguement for anyone not to swallow for a NT appearance. Winning 25 games in a row (give or take) is a tall task for anyone, even if you do come from a conference like the MWC or the WAC.
For any non BCS school like BYU, TCU, Boise St. or Utah to have a shot at the NT, all four of these elements would have to be there and that requires an insane amount of luck. I think we all agree the best solution to the mess that is the BCS, would be a playoff, but being a realist, I know that train will take years to get here. In closing I think the only chance there is for the little guys is to first have a year like Utah had last year, and to have another undefeated run using BYU's formula this year (strong SOS).
I wish all the little guys luck, (their really gonna need it to stick it to those greedy suits).