Spencer Hall, who will be live-blogging Monday night's game, appropriately focuses his first Factor Five Five Factor Preview of 2010 on the epic tilt between No. 3 Boise State and No. 10 Virginia Tech. Hall delves deep into five categories: Mascot, Aura, Names, and Grudges/Scores to settle/Sheer cussedness and Nebulous Statistical Comparisons of Dubious Validity:
Remember that Tyrod Taylor was a more efficient quarterback than Colt McCoy last year, and now has both halves of the Evans-Williams backfield of infinite intoxication on pure excellence behind him. (Darren Evans and Ryan Williams, both 1,000 yard rushers, and now both with intact, fully functioning ACLs now that Evans has healed up.) Remember that seven starters from the defensive team that beat Tennessee senseless in the Chick-Fil-A Bowl in 2009 are gone. Please recall that Virginia Tech in season openers over the past decade has been completely rand-o, alternating delicious cupcakey wins over Arkansas State and pre-competent UConn with losses to USC, Alabama, and the embarrassing loss two years ago to ECU. Remember that trends are here to be broken, and that you'd be a fool not to bet on them unless they don't exist. (And in VT's case in openers, they don't.)
Boise's statistical picture is even murkier. Call belief in them a matter of faith: if you believe beating TCU in last year's Fiesta Bowl with much of the same crew matters, then the 1.5 point edge many bookies have given them in this game is science, not faith. If not, then we're still relying on the old narrative that Boise continues to be the local WAC bully who has made their giant-killer reputation beating up on teams from Oregon since 2006, and that they remain an undermanned team with superb coaching waiting to be outclassed on the field. This feels like stale analytical loaf to us, but then again so does ranking them first because you want to buy a lottery ticket on their potential greatness. We're all gambling, but some of us will openly admit it without shame.
For the full preview of the game, delivered in the way that only EDSBS can provide, be sure to read Hall's full post.