Now that a proper blue period has occurred since the subpar performance of the Badgers against Northern Iowa has passed, as a man of science, I have taken it upon myself to go through the sordid history of the BCS to find out just exactly how much of a barrier of entry that this performance is for a BCS berth. Is there hope? Are we done? Is there an early call time on New Years Day in our future?
In the 13-year history, there have been 12 seasons where at least one of the BCS representatives decided to take the so-called gimme win in dropping down a level. And as we've gone from one out of the eight teams to seven of the ten teams dropping down, we're finding that these things are trending to happen on a yearly basis. So if you're out on the fandom ledge?
I say to you today, there's hope.
In the final days of the Clinton era, Dennis Erickson had Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmanzahdeh. Ken Simonton was being a good college running back. And on opening day in the 2000 season, they nearly got shocked. Eastern Washington held the future Ochocinco to one catch for four yards. If it wasn't for Ken Simonton doing a Le'Veon Bell impression, the Eagles would have soared in Reser Stadium. As it was, they lost 21-19. But this team grew up to throttle Notre Dame in the Fiesta Bowl.
But as we continue through the era where gimme scheduling isn't nearly as pervasive, we find ourselves with what should have been the first BCS team to lose to an FCS team. Granted, the 2004 Pitt Panthers weren't exactly the most menacing of BCS representatives, but a Furman team that placed a couple of skill position players in the NFL (Ingle Martin and Jerome Felton) had a 31-14 lead in the third quarter on a Felton TD. Tyler Palko threw for two fourth quarter TDs, Josh Cummings kicked an overtime field goal, and Pitt escaped, 41-38, in overtime. They won the right to lose to Utah in the Fiesta Bowl.
From there, there wasn't a lot of excitement for a couple of seasons, we all remember the magic of Appalachian State beating Michigan, but outside of a sluggish performance by an Illinois against its Leathernecked in-state opponent, there really wasn't any real scare thrown in. That is, until 2009.
"I feel like I just robbed a bank with a banana that has gun written on it." Adam Jacobi's tweet was one of the most hilariously appropriate responses after the Hawkeyes blocked a Billy Hallgren field goal, let UNI recover the block, and managed to block another UNI field goal for a 17-16 win. That was one that Northern Iowa should have had. They had a lead for a great deal of time in the game and it was only luck that stopped them.
But this was before Ricky Stanzi became a folk hero. It was before Iowa rose up and threatened to crash the national title game. They beat Georgia Tech in the Orange Bowl. And became, for one moment, America's Team.
The second rise of a FCS team cam in 2010. James Madison beat the Hokies all by his Federalist self. A Darren Evans fumble with about 5 minutes left allowed JMU to take down Virginia Tech 21-16. At this point, the Hokies were 0-2. But they would not lose again until the Orange Bowl. (Though in fairness, Andrew Luck is a good quarterback.)
In 2011, Wofford went toe-to-toe with Clemson. They struck first, they led at the end of the first quarter, it was a 21-21 tie at the end of the second quarter, and it wasn't until the last touchdown pass from Tajh Boyd to DeAndre Hopkins that a Wofford score would have required a two point conversion to tie or take the lead, as they lost 35-27.
And an honorable mention goes to Alabama. Sure they pulled away from Georgia Southern, but of the 938 rushing yards Alabama gave up, Georgia Southern had 302 of them. Does it fit? Not necessarily, but as Alabama grew up to be national champions, I feel it warrants mentioning.
So what did we learn? The Atlantic Coast is rich for the second level of football. Northern Iowa's done this before. And if the team finds itself with a worthy quarterback? The road to redemption's a lot easier for a team.
If it's TL;DR for you, I'll shorten it. Save us Danny O'Brien!