It occurs to me looking at this blog post at the Orlando Sentinel that in one particular sense the mid-majors have won a battle. None of the five schools listed there as potential gate crashers to the BCS title game play more than twice against BCS-conference opponents. (Indeed, the main reason Tulsa and Nevada are on the list in the first place is because they have two such games that they’ll need to win to be considered relevant.)
But the two shiniest mid-major programs, TCU and Boise State, only have one game against a Big Six team, and while Boise’s is at least against a school that should be ranked in the top 25, TCU plays a Baylor team that finished last season on a four-game losing streak. Yes, the two Mountain West schools do play each other, but that’s a pretty similar pattern among all five teams on that list.
In short, the bar appears to have been lowered. Now maybe it’s not much lower than, say, what the eventual ACC champ will have to negotiate, but compared to the gauntlet that a school like Florida has to run (playing the other MNCs from the past five years back-to-back-to-back), that seems a little light. Yet these two mid-majors are in the conversation with little reservation, it seems.
My point isn’t that they’re deserving or not. That’s what playing the games is for. It’s just that who they’ll be playing doesn’t seem to be as big an issue as it used to be.