BCS Busters Watch List
1. Boise State Broncos, Mountain West
2. BYU Cougars, Independent
3. FIU Panthers, Sun Belt
4. Ohio Bobcats, MAC
5. Louisiana Ragin’ Cajuns, Sun Belt
6. Houston Cougars, Conference USA
7. Arkansas State Red Wolves, Sun Belt
8. Northern Illinois Huskies, MAC
9. Tulsa Golden Hurricanes, Conference USA
10. Southern Miss Golden Eagles, Conference USA
BCS Buster Game to Watch:
Thursday, September 20, BYU at Boise State
If a team is to bust the BCS this year, then it may be more of a surprise than past history. The BCS has only been busted seven times by four teams being Utah, TCU, Boise State, and Hawaii in which two of the teams are now in BCS conferences.
With Boise State losing quarterback Kellen Moore, the usual favorite Broncos are less likely to be a threat to get into a BCS bowl in 2012. However, coach Chris Petersen is possibly the best in the nation and has garnered double digit wins every season at Boise.
BYU has one of the best chances to be a BCS Buster this season. They bring back 18 starters and are a proven winning program. A crucial game at Boise State could shape what direction the Cougars' season will go. If they can beat the Broncos and win the Holy War rivalry with Utah, it may come down to their game against fellow independent and BCS darling, Notre Dame.
FIU, Houston, and Ohio all have somewhat manageable schedules. Ohio has the most favorable being ranked 123 according to the CFU strength of schedule and they return star quarterback Tyler Tettleton (3,964 total yards & 38 total TDs in 2011). The Bobcats play the depleted Penn State Nittany Lions to start the season and it gets easier after that.
FIU has a highly touted defense and return enough experience to make a run, but have yet to break double digit wins in their short history. Houston would have to overachieve to bust the rankings with the losses of impact players and a head coach, but the 2012 schedule does give them hope.
Arkansas State made the list, but are most likely a couple years away from busting the BCS or whatever the prevalent ranking is by then. The Red Wolves still have a shot at the conference championship; they did sweep the Sun Belt last season. If coach Gus Malzahn can lead the Wolves to a miracle road win at Nebraska and run through the conference, who knows what could happen, but a bowl season is more probable than a top 25 ranking.
Louisiana Lafayette also has a good shot at the Sun Belt Championship, but a tough out of conference schedule against Oklahoma State and Florida will probably keep them from moving up to a high enough ranking.
Northern Illinois had a great season in 2011 that ended with 11 wins and a bowl victory. The departure of impact quarterback Chandler Harnish decreases their chances though to continue the success. They do have a rather weak schedule other than their opener against Iowa.
A team that could make an early run but fall out late is Tulsa. The Golden Hurricanes schedule is set up for them to have a chance to go on a mid-season winning streak after they play Iowa State. If they defeat the Cyclones, Tulsa could be 8-0 before playing at Arkansas and finishing up conference play versus Houston, UCF, and SMU. The final four games could determine a berth in the Conference USA championship and possibly a jump in the polls.
Southern Miss rounds out the BCS Busters Watch List. The Golden Eagles are coming off a highly successful season, but 2012 will be tougher with the loss of impact players and a difficult schedule. They play non-conference opponents Nebraska, Louisville, and Boise State.
UCF would have made the watch, but their recent bowl ban makes them ineligible. The Knights made Phil Steele's most improved list for 2012. UCF does have a stingy defense, but underachieved last season.