FBO: How good is the non-BCS elite?

Looking backwards and forwards at the prospects for Utah, Boise State and others

Originally Published: August 27, 2009
By Brian Fremeau | Football Outsiders

The recently released preseason Associated Press poll and USA Today coaches' poll pay more respect to the non-BCS conferences than any in recent memory. Four mid-major teams appear in the Top 25 rankings -- the Boise State Broncos, TCU Horned Frogs, Utah Utes and BYU Cougars -- which was an unthinkable feat only a few years ago. Boise State's No. 14 Associated Press poll ranking is the highest preseason nod for a non-BCS team since the Bowl Championship Series was formed; the chances are the Broncos will finish even higher.

Getty ImagesShould be a big year for Kellen Moore and the boys from the Smurf Turf.

Since 2003, at least one non-BCS team has placed in the top 15 of the final Associated Press poll or USA Today coaches' poll in every season. On three occasions -- No. 4 Utah in 2004, No. 5 Boise State in 2006 and No. 2 Utah in 2008 -- a non-BCS team has cracked the final poll top five. On average, the highest-ranked non-BCS team at season's end has been ranked 12 spots better than the highest-ranked non-BCS team in either preseason poll.

That trend will be difficult to duplicate this year, if only because the preseason bar has been set so high.

To see how undefeated non-BCS teams of recent years would have fared in the SEC and other BCS conferences, as well as what to expect this year, you must be an ESPN Insider. Insider

Brian Fremeau

ESPN Insider
• Has been a contributor to ESPN Insider and ESPN The Magazine since 2009
• Creator of the Fremeau Efficiency Index (FEI), a measure of college football team efficiency
• Contributor to Football Outsiders and his own site,