Ranking the Best BCS Bowl Busters Ever
5. 2009 Boise State (14-0)
Over the past decade, BCS busters have become more and more commonplace. Since 2004, eight teams from a non-AQ conference have earned a BCS bowl berth; this year, both No. 14 Fresno State and No. 15 Northern Illinois are threatening to do the same. Here are our picks for the five best BCS-busting teams since the era started in 1998.
Boise State’s 2009 squad ran the table (14-0) in a scarily well-rounded manner. QB Kellen Moore and RBs Jeremy Avery and Doug Martin paced the nation’s second-highest scoring offense (42.2 PPG), while the defense held opponents to just 17.1 PPG (including high-scoring Oregon to just eight in a 19-8, season-opening win).
Head coach Chris Petersen’s Broncos capped off the season by defeating fellow BCS buster and No. 3 TCU in the Fiesta Bowl, 17-10.
4. 2004 Utah (12-0)
Prior to guiding Florida to a pair of BCS titles in 2006 and 2008, Urban Meyer got the Gators job on the strength of his work at Utah.
The Utes convincingly defeated all three of their regular season opponents from AQ conferences (Texas A&M, Arizona and North Carolina) while also rampaging through their Mountain West Conference schedule. QB and future No. 1 overall NFL draft pick Alex Smith ran Meyer’s spread offense to perfection and was one of four Utes players to score 10 or more TDs.
Their crowning achievement was a 35-7 beatdown of Pitt in the Fiesta Bowl, becoming the first non-AQ conference team to both crash the BCS and win a BCS bowl game.
3. 2010 TCU (13-0)
Gary Patterson’s Horned Frogs had already busted the BCS in 2009, only to fall to fellow crasher Boise State in the Fiesta Bowl. The following season, they were not to be denied.
At a time during which high-scoring offenses became all the rage in college football, the Horned Frogs won on the strength of the nation’s top scoring defense (12.0 PPG). Which isn’t to say their offense slacked off; in fact, the Andy Dalton-directed attack was fourth in the nation in scoring (41.6 PPG).
The Horned Frogs did their best work at the end of the season, thumping sixth-ranked Utah, 47-7, in November and snuffing out No. 4 Wisconsin’s powerful ground game in a 21-19, Rose Bowl upset.
2. 2008 Utah (13-0)
Upon departing Utah for Florida following the Utes’ BCS-busting season in 2004, Urban Meyer left the program in good hands in successor Kyle Whittingham - who, four years later, did some BCS crashing of his own.
Whittingham’s 2008 team had a penchant for pulling out close games against big-time opponents - among them No. 24 Michigan (25-23), Oregon State (31-28) and No. 11 TCU (13-10). The Utes saved their best for their last two games of the season: A 48-24 rout of Holy War rival and No. 14 BYU and a Sugar Bowl triumph over Alabama and Nick Saban that was much more decisive than the final 31-17 score indicated.
Utah remains the last team to defeat Alabama in a bowl game. The way the Crimson Tide is rolling right now, they might hold that distinction for a while.
1. 2006 Boise State (13-0)
When you think “BCS busting,” it’s almost impossible not to think of Boise State’s magical 2006 season.
Despite running the table in the regular season (12-0) - which included a 28-point win over Oregon State - the Broncos weren’t given much of a shot against seventh-ranked Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl, having not faced a single Top 25 team all season up to that point. Yet that didn’t stop them from racing out to a 28-10 lead. Upon surrendering 25 unanswered OU points, Boise State didn’t fold, tying the game up late on a now-legendary hook and lateral touchdown and winning it in OT on a Statue of Liberty, 2-point conversion, 43-42.
As if that wasn’t enough, star RB Ian Johnson proposed to his Boise State cheerleader girlfriend in front of a national television audience - just icing on the cake for the best BCS busting team ever.