WHAT HAPPENED?

Strength of schedule and style points definitely count for Boise State and TCU. That’s been evident the past two weeks.

One week ago, TCU leaped Boise State, from No. 4 to No. 3 — in the major polls and BCS standings — with its 40-point win over then-No. 5 Utah.

On Saturday, the Horned Frogs held on for a 40-35 victory at home against San Diego State, while Utah was beat 28-3 at Notre Dame. TCU’s other big win — against Oregon State — also lost luster. The Beavers lost at home to Pac-10 cellar-dweller Washington State, 31-14.

Meanwhile, the Broncos have consistently trampled their competition. Boise State defeated rival Idaho 52-14 on Friday for their fifth straight game scoring more than 40 points and sixth overall.

Boise State also defeated Oregon State this season, but unlike TCU, the Broncos’ big win — a 33-30 victory over Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 in Landover, Md. — continues to help Boise State. The Hokies have won eight straight since falling in back-to-back games against Boise State and James Madison and are favorites to win the ACC again this season.

SUNDAY VERDICT: Boise State moved back ahead of TCU, to No. 3 in the polls, but remained No. 4 in the BCS standings. TCU retained third.

WHAT’S IT MEAN FOR BSU?

The results from the past weekend made some voters rethink their positions on which non-automatic qualifier was better. With Boise State again moving ahead of TCU in the human polls, it definitely helps the Broncos. It may not have shown when ESPN unveiled the latest BCS standings on Sunday night, but the margin between the two teams was definitely diminished.

TCU holds a slim margin in the BCS standings over Boise State (.897-.863).

The Broncos (9-0) have a better strength of schedule over TCU (11-0). Boise State plays Fresno State (6-3, 4-2 WAC) on Friday at Bronco Stadium, then heads to Reno for a what could be more than a conference showdown with the Nevada Wolf Pack (9-1, 4-1 WAC) on Nov. 26.

Nevada continues to move up in the BCS standings, landing at No. 18 on Sunday.

Boise State finishes the regular season Dec. 5 at home against Utah State (4-6, 2-4).

SUNDAY VERDICT: Boise State’s strength of schedule will only help the Broncos, while TCU finishes against one-win New Mexico on Nov. 27. The Broncos could have the inside edge toward the one automatic BCS bowl spot and land in the Rose Bowl. The Broncos, however, don’t appear to be in position to gain ground on Oregon or Auburn and play for a national title.

 

WHAT TO EXPECT?

The air is starting to clear, and it is looking like Boise State can control its destiny. Boise State has three games remaining on schedule, including one game against a ranked Nevada team.

TCU will have to sit back and watch this weekend and after next week’s game against New Mexico.

Boise State will not only have to continue winning, it will have to continue winning by large margins if it wants to further convince voters it is more deserving of a higher ranking than TCU. Those big outputs equal style points, and we’ve already seen that voters definitely look at margin of victory.

Virginia Tech (8-2, 6-0 ACC) finishes with games at Miami on Saturday and at home against Virginia on Nov. 27. The Hokies will be favored to win both games, which would help Boise State.

Virginia Tech came in at No. 16 in the latest BCS standings, while Utah fell to No. 23 when the latest BCS standings were released on Sunday.

SUNDAY VERDICT: If Boise State wins out, it should make up its slim margin against TCU in the BCS standings and earn its third BCS bowl appearance. No. 1 Oregon (.975 BCS score) and No. 2 Auburn (.969) own large margins over TCU and Boise State and one of those two top teams would have to lose on the field and in the minds of voters and the computers for one of the non-AQs to land in the title game.

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