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Looking ahead to next fall's Boise State game

Virginia Tech takes on Boise State on Oct. 2 at FedEx Field in one of the marquee nonconference matchups of next fall's college football season. And after the Broncos' 17-10 win over the Texas Christian on Monday in the Fiesta Bowl, there is some added sizzle to the game against the Hokies.

Both teams could be in the top 10 when they meet next fall. But while Boise State hails from the Western Athletic Conference, the meeting will not necessarily serve as a referendum on the haves versus the have-nots of college football. Boise State is for real.

While the Broncos' Fiesta Bowl win on Monday came in a sloppy affair, they showed they have more than just the razzle-dazzle of the Statue of Liberty play to beat Oklahoma in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl, or the fake-punt pass, on fourth down on Monday. Boise State will almost assuredly finished in the top five and became the second team in modern history to go 14-0, joining Ohio State in 2002. The Broncos return 21 of 22 starters next year and are two-deep at many positions.

“It's something we can build on at this point,” Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, who should enter the year in the thick of the Heisman Trophy conversation, told reporters in Glendale, Ariz., on Monday night. “Hopefully make some progress in spring ball and all those opportunities, and something might happen down the road.”

Virginia Tech finished its season with a resounding win over Tennessee in the Chick-fil-A Bowl on Dec. 31. This season marked the rise of offense in Blacksburg. Now the Hokies have weapons to compliment defense and special-teams units that have always been strong at Virginia Tech. Running back Ryan Williams, for example, should also enter the year in the Heisman conversation. So while the Hokies only lose a handful of key starters on defense -- linebacker Cody Grimm, free safety Kam Chancellor, cornerback Stephan Virgil -- they have the makings of a preseason top-10 team.

But as Boise State showed again on Monday, it belongs in rare company in the college football world. It won its second Bowl Championship Series game, which is more than Alabama, Michigan and Penn State combined in the system's 11-year history.

Despite all their trick plays, their far-away location and small conference, the Broncos served up another reminder on Monday that they are among the nation's elite. Although Washington should host a partisan Virginia Tech crowd in October, the Hokies should have a tough challenge against a talented, veteran Boise State team

By Mark Viera  |  January 5, 2010; 1:02 PM ET
 
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