- Associated Press - Wednesday, August 31, 2011

College football’s most debated team has another referendum game.

No. 5 Boise State begins a second straight season playing across the country on a field that is neutral only in name.

But this time the stakes are raised a bit. This time the Broncos are venturing into Southeastern Conference territory.

As impressive as Boise State’s 33-30 victory against Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Maryland was last season, Kellen Moore and the Broncos have a chance to bolster their credibility even more Saturday in Atlanta against No. 19 Georgia.

The Boise State debate breaks down like this.

Pro-Boise: Coach Chris Petersen’s team can compete and even beat any team in the country if given the opportunity. (See Fiesta Bowl victories against Oklahoma and TCU, plus that victory against Virginia Tech). A relatively weak conference schedule should not preclude the Broncos from playing for a national championship if they go undefeated.

Anti-Boise: Playing in the Western Athletic Conference, the Broncos only faced a few teams per season that were their equals. Moving to the Mountain West Conference this season only provides Boise State with a touch more competition. Because the Broncos’ strength of schedule lags well behind the teams that play in the SEC, Big Ten, Pac-12, etc., Boise State cannot possibly be considered a national championship contender.

(Note: Often this argument leads to screaming and/or tweeting in all capital letters and, ultimately, language not suitable for youngsters).

SEC fans seem to get the most riled up by Boise State being included among the nation’s elite programs.

The last time Boise State played an SEC team was 2005, when the Broncos were blasted by the Bulldogs 48-13 in Athens.

A victory by the Broncos not only means the Boise State debate will rage most of the season, but it might even get them some respect in the Deep South.

Maybe?

The picks:

THURSDAY

UNLV (plus 35 1/2) at No. 11 Wisconsin

Story Continues →