Five more wins should equal BCS
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For the University of Hawai'i football team, a trip to the Bowl Championship Series promised land could be as easy as, well, 1-2-3-4-5.
That's if winning the last five outings of their 12-game regular season can be said to be "easy" for the Warriors, who have never gone undefeated past this point (7-0) in school history.
But never have they had such powerful incentive, either, because if they win out, the Warriors should secure a lucrative Jan. 2008 postseason appearance. That is the reading of the tea leaves that emerges from the long-awaited first BCS rankings of the season yesterday.
The fear was that the Warriors' marshmallow-comfy schedule would doom them to No. 20 or above, a much more precarious bubble position. But coming in at No. 18 in the first print out should set them within striking range of the magic 12th spot in the rankings. Especially if the Warriors can pick up some help along the way.
If UH is ranked 12th or better in the final BCS rankings of Dec. 2, one day after its regular-season finale against Washington, the Warriors would be an automatic selection, probably ending up in the Fiesta Bowl. At No. 16 they would gain entry only if they finish higher than a champion of one of the six conferences guaranteed a berth.
"I'm not even worried about it," said Karl Benson, Western Athletic Conference commissioner. "No apprehension at all. If they win out, they get picked."
It is not, however, a universal opinion. Jerry Palm of CollegeBCS.com gives the Warriors a "50/50" chance of reaching No. 12 if they win out because "Hawai'i's schedule is so bad they might not crack the Top 15 in the computers, even at 12-0."
Boise State of the WAC, whose lead UH is attempting to follow to a $4.5 million BCS pot of gold, was 15th in the first BCS ranking of last season. The Broncos climbed to eighth in the final BCS ranking.
But Boise State wasn't burdened with such a sagging strength of schedule index as the Warriors, who have played two Football Championship Subdivision (formerly known as I-AA) opponents, Northern Colorado and Charleston Southern. Nor was the poll landscape cluttered by as many upsets of top teams.
The Warriors' strength of schedule is the weakest in Division I-A and last in a composite of the computers. But their No. 16 ranking in the two human polls used — USA Today and Harris Interactive — has so far been a boon. It might be more so if not for the number of upsets playing out above them and their own difficulty in blowing out WAC teams.
Gaining the confidence of the voters while getting some help from the remaining teams on their schedule — New Mexico State, Fresno State, Nevada, Boise State and UW — will be key for the Warriors to reach the BCS should they win out. Three more ESPN games give them an opening.
So, as distasteful as it might be for some fans, it is time to root on Boise State, Fresno State and the rest — right up until they play UH. Say "Go Broncos!" or "Battle on Bulldogs!" and think strength of schedule while holding your nose. Anytime UW decides to get around to winning a Pac-10 game would be much appreciated, too.
But mostly it comes down to the Warriors, as it should. Win out or lose out. It could be that "easy."
Reach Ferd Lewis at email@example.com or 525-8044.
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