No. 16 Boise State

That's right, B-o-i-s-e.

Don't like it? Well, go stuff your potato with chives and sour cream.

What more does a former JC, playing in a 1-AA stadium, have to do to earn proper respect? Boise State football continues to thrive despite getting jilted by major conferences from coast-to-coast. The Pac 12 will never take the Broncos because of the academic snobs at Cal, a school that just produced a quarterback, Jared Goff, who didn't know the sun rose in the east and set in the west. [membership level="0"] The rest of this article is available to subscribers only - to become a subscriber click here.[/membership] [membership]

The Big 12, for which Boise is a perfect fit, seems to think its holier-than-thou despite allowing Baylor to remain a member.

The Big East only grabbed Boise as a buoy as it was sinking. And then it sunk.

It's a wonder Boise football can function at all, but it does, and the Broncos should be back in major-bowl contention after a sub-par 9-4 season in which they inexplicably lost consecutive games on the Blue Turf.

Don't think Boise State deserves a top 16? Fine, just say it took a spot that Baylor punted to the Pepper Hamilton Report.

Also know this: since 2000, the Goody Blue Shoes own college football's best winning percentage: 84.6

This could be the last-hurrah cycle for Boise State, if and when it gets left behind again after Big 12 expansion.

Rankman’s man-crush definitely reached the apex in 2010, when he went all in on the blue chips and made the Broncos his preseason No.1

The rest of the year was spent profusely sweating as we tried to bring home the long shot.

Rankman loves the gamble and 2010 was his biggest since 1997, when he picked North Carolina as No.1 and then took a phone call from a writer from Raleigh wondering if I was drunk.

My hunch was that North Carolina, stocked with future NFL players on defense like Dre Bly, “only” had to defeat Florida State at home.

Guess what? The Tar Heels finished 11-1 and No. 4 in the final USA Today coaches’ poll. Their only loss was to Florida State.

Mack Brown parlayed it into the Texas job. Next season, Rankman visited Brown in Austin and the first thing Mack says is “Chris, I’m so sorry we let you down. You were right. All we had to do was beat Florida State at home.”

And you wonder why Rankman liked Mack Brown?

At least North Carolina was a program in a major conference.

The 2010 Boise leap was potentially career-wrecking. Rankman's national rep was on the line and he didn’t half-ass his commitment, either, even traveled to Boise that summer to christen the blue-ship lollipop.

Boise was returning the nucleus of the 2009 team that finished 14-0 and boasted Kellen Moore, one of the greatest quarterbacks in college football history.

Rankman was more nervous in 2010 than any other season--his stomach churned for 14 weeks.

It almost went belly-up opening weekend against Virginia Tech in Landover, Maryland. Boise State trailed late as Rankman, his heart beating fast in the press box in Landover, pondered the impending ridicule. Then Moore drove his team down field in the final minutes to secure a dramatic, 33-30 win.

Whew.

Boise was unscathed until Nov. 26, when it all came to a tragic, Johnny Cash ending in Reno, on a missed chip-shot field goal.

Had Boise won that night, and Alabama not blown a 24-0 home lead to Auburn, the Broncos would have played for the 2010 national title.

Yeah, I know: “If its and buts were candy and nuts….”

Anyway, Rankman will likely not ever be THAT committed to Boise State again, although he is happy to report the program did not die after Chris Petersen left for Washington.

We expect Boise State to bounce back strong this year and earn another major bowl bid. The Broncos have a power trio returning on offense in quarterback Brett Rypien, tailback Jeremey McNichols and receiver Thomas Sperbeck. The defensive line needs reworking but the back seven is solid.

Going 3-0 in September with wins over UL Lafayette, Washington State and Oregon State could set Boise up for a 12-0 season and trip to a major bowl.

We’re not saying Boise is No. 1 this year, but we are saying this team belongs in my Sweet 16.[/membership]

Rankman's reaction to Gould and Blaudschun. Herb picking Georgia at No. 16 was a brilliant first play as he softens up the SEC before plowing into a buffet of Big Ten animal-nicknamed schools. Our friend Andy Bagnato used to say the Big Ten led the nation in road-kill mascots you wouldn't necessarily stop to help if you hit them on the highway: Gophers, Badgers, Wolverines, Hawkeyes, Nittany Lions...and now you can add Terrapin since Maryland joined. Any way, we are still waiting for Herbie to drop Northern Illinois somewhere in his top 10. Jersey Guy? Why should Baylor be a surprise? Blau never met program on probation, or about to go on probation, he didn't like. His favorite all time coach is Oklahoma's Barry Switzer, the bootlegger's son who had two rules for his players: Show up and win. Switzer is believed to have adopted, in the 1980s, college football's first open-carry gun policy for dormitories. Don't be surprised if Jersey Guy tries to sneak SMU into his top 10 because, you know, we've got a payroll to meet.

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