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Monday, June 1, 2009
A look at four BCS busters


Posted by ESPN.com's Graham Watson

Four teams from the non-automatic qualifying schools have participated in BCS games. Each team had different strengths, weaknesses and used different paths to get there. Although they might not have started out with the goal of busting the BCS, as both Utah coach Kyle Whittingham and Boise State coach Chris Petersen said, each provided a unique road map for other teams to follow in their footsteps. 

UTAH
Undefeated record and year: 12-0, 2004
Head coach, season: Urban Meyer, 2nd
Preseason rankings: AP 20, Coaches' 19
BCS bowl: Fiesta Bowl, def. Pittsburgh 35-7
Final rankings: AP 4, Coaches' 5
Returning starters: 8 offensive, 7 defensive
Seniors: 18
Quarterback: Alex Smith (Jr.)
BCS conference teams on nonconference schedule: Texas A&M, at Arizona, North Carolina
Record previous season, conference titles, bowl appearances: 10-2, MWC champs, Liberty Bowl champs (d. Southern Miss 17-0)
What made that team special: Utah was definitely one of the more talented teams in the country. The Utes produced five NFL draft picks off the 2004 squad, including the No. 1 overall draft pick -- junior quarterback Alex Smith.
After the season: Utah was the original BCS buster and proved that schools from smaller conferences could compete with some of the football powers. The Utes timing was great since 2004 was also the year the BCS decided to allow automatic qualification to any team from the non-automatic qualifying schools ranked in the top 12 in the BCS standings beginning in 2006.

BOISE STATE
Undefeated record and year: 13-0, 2006
Head coach, season: Chris Petersen, 1st
Preseason rankings: RV in both AP (31) and Coaches' (31)
BCS bowl: Fiesta Bowl, def. Oklahoma 43-42 OT
Final rankings: AP 5, Coaches' 6
Returning starters: 9 offensive, 9 defensive
Seniors: 24
Quarterback: Jared Zabransky (Sr.)
BCS conference teams on nonconference schedule: Oregon State
Record previous season, conference titles, bowl appearances: 9-3, WAC champions, Lost MPC Computers Bowl (l. Boston College, 21-27)
What made that team special: The 2006 team was an experienced group that had been through some ups and downs, including missing out on a BCS bowl despite an undefeated regular season in 2004. The frustration over that year carried over to 2005, but the Broncos made their way through it and finished the 2006 season the second-highest scoring team in the country.
After the season: The 2006 Fiesta Bowl was declared by many as one of the greatest games in college football history and officially put Boise State on the national map. It was the Broncos' second undefeated season while a member of the FBS.

HAWAII
Undefeated record and year: 12-1, 2007
Head coach, season: June Jones, 9th
Preseason rankings: AP 23, Coaches' 24
BCS bowl: Sugar Bowl, lost Georgia 41-10
Final rankings: AP 19, Coaches' 17
Returning starters: 6 offensive, 6 defensive
Seniors: 24
Quarterback: Colt Brennan (RS Sr.)
BCS conference teams on nonconference schedule: Washington
Record previous season, conference titles, bowl appearances: 11-3, Sheraton Hawaii Bowl champs (d. Arizona State, 41-24)
What made that team special: Hawaii was third in the country in total offense with 512.08 yards per game. Behind senior quarterback Colt Brennan, a Heisman Trophy finalist, the Warriors scored 76 touchdowns and defeated their opponents by an average of 22 points.
After the season: Hawaii's 41-10 loss to Georgia in the Sugar Bowl cast doubt on whether the Warriors' undefeated season was credible enough to warrant a BCS bid and provided more scrutiny toward non-automatic qualifying teams and their conferences.

UTAH
Undefeated record and year: 13-0, 2008
Head coach, season: Kyle Whittingham, 4th
Preseason rankings: RV in both AP (28) and Coaches' (29)
BCS bowl: Sugar Bowl, def. Alabama 31-17
Final rankings: AP 2, Coaches' 4
Returning starters: 8 offensive, 6 defensive
Seniors: 20
Quarterback: Brian Johnson (RS Sr.)
BCS conference teams on nonconference schedule: at Michigan, Oregon State
Record previous season, conference titles, bowl appearances: 9-4, Poinsettia Bowl champs (d. Navy, 35-32)
What made that team special: Prior to the 2006 season, quarterback Brian Johnson was convinced to redshirt with the promise that 2008, his senior season, would be the best season of his career. It was during that year he learned how to watch film and how to lead his team.
After the season: Utah's decisive win over Alabama sparked protests about whether Utah should be the national champion since it was the only undefeated team in the country. While the Utes finished No. 2, it spurred the Mountain West Conference and several legislators to fight the BCS for equality.

Source: ESPN Stats & Analysis