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Boise State the mid-major Hawaii wishes it could be


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POSTED: Saturday, October 24, 2009

Frustration manifests itself in many ways. This week for University of Hawaii football fans it's the comparison game.

“;Why can't we do what Boise State does?”; That's one of the recurring themes leading up to tonight's WAC football game, in which the Warriors are 25-point underdogs to the No. 6 Broncos.

It wasn't that long ago that Boise State was just another JC; I think the Greendale Human Beings were on their schedule (if you don't get that, watch this week's “;Community,”; the funniest new show on TV).

All of a sudden BSU is the Gonzaga of college football. Might be that the only thing that keeps the Broncos out of the national championship game is a weak schedule and a big helping of good ol' regional, elitist bias in the polls. For some reason I can't quite grasp, the Oregon win Boise opened the season with looks less attractive now to the voters despite the Ducks' five wins since.

THE WARRIORS would love to have such a problem—and two years ago it was UH piling up the wins against weaklings, hoping strength of schedule wouldn't be held against it.

Luckily for Hawaii, everyone lost at least two games. Unluckily for Hawaii, it was matched up with the Georgia Bulldogs, growling mad about not being in the national championship game—and they took it out on the Warriors. Then again, the way Hawaii prepared for the Sugar Bowl ... well, now we have Furlough Friday. In 2007, UH had Do-nothing December after it beat Washington to cap the unbeaten regular season.

The 2006 Broncos were different. They went to the Fiesta Bowl to win, and did—edging a good Oklahoma team featuring Adrian Peterson. It was a landmark game, some saying as meaningful to college football as Chaminade over Virginia or Villanova over Georgetown in hoops. Neither comparison is perfect, but it got as much attention, proving finally that a mid-major college football team could beat an elite level team.

Boise State took advantage of this by continuing to improve on the athletic quality of its recruits, continuity combined with seizing of opportunity.

At UH there was neither when June Jones left days after the Sugar Bowl crash. Hawaii fans thought they were at least getting a smooth transition when defensive coordinator Greg McMackin stayed back to take over as head coach, but after a 7-7 debut season the 2009 Warriors are 2-4 under him with four defeats in a row.

Whatever bump in recruiting the 12-0 regular season might have afforded was nullified by the Sugar Bowl exposure.

An inexperienced team suffers from lack of depth. It's on its fifth middle linebacker. The promising quarterback is a sophomore walk-on in his second start.

Mixed messages abound; one week it's have fun and play loose, the next, stay within the scheme and don't gamble.

Even the UH fans: a few ridiculous ones actually rooting for a Boise win so that the athletic department can share in some BCS bowl game bounty. The only member of the Hawaii camp allowed to even secretly hope that is athletic director Jim Donovan—but as a former UH player, you know where his heart is.

DO THEY have a chance? Well, they're at home. Barring some long gain by the Broncos or a UH turnover, Hawaii will own the very early going. How it reacts to adversity will determine if it gets blown out.

On defense especially, someone's got to finally make a big play. And then go ahead and make a few more.

We know Boise State will make plenty.

Reach Star-Bulletin sports columnist Dave Reardon at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address), his “;Quick Reads”; blog at starbulletin.com, and twitter.com/davereardon.