WASHINGTON, DC - Boise State is no longer the underdog.
In the past 15 years or so, the Broncos have been building an amazing program brick by brick. It started with a strong "magic carpet" season with Pokey Allen in the mid-90s, continued with coaches like Koetter & Hawkins - then exploded under the leadership of Chris Petersen.
As the program continued to grow, the team has been the perpetual underdog. The little guys from the little conference in the little city in the middle of nowhere.
Now, talk of a run at a national title is very real. Boise State has to plow through a season that has very few obstacles -- and if they do, the team is likely headed back to Phoenix for a third bowl game in the Valley of the Sun. But this time, they won't be celebrating with bags of Tostitos -- instead they will be seeking a championship ring.
This has been a week unlike any other. I've been fortunate enough to be at each of Boise State's bowl games over the past decade. This was something else -- 2500 miles from home in a city with history around every turn. Bronco fans not only got to witness an incredible football game, they stood at the feet of Abe Lincoln, strolled the Reflecting Pool and mugged for pictures in front the White House. Kids, adults, families and Bronco fans of every stripe got the experience of a lifetime. To cap it with a thrilling, nail-biter of a game in a spectacular stadium was just icing (incredible sugar-filled double fudge icing) on top of a pretty great cake.
A few years ago, billboards popped up in San Diego that read "Wherever the Broncos go, the nation will follow." The team could play a game in just about any corner of the US, and thousands - perhaps tens of thousands - of fans would be there.
Underdog or not -- get ready for one heck of a season. Go Broncos.