The biggest debate during the college football offseason wasn't if Alabama would repeat as BCS National Champions or if Crimson Tide running back Mark Ingram would become just the second player to repeat as the Heisman Trophy winner.

It was the Boise State debate.

Blue field and all, the Broncos have become the most controversial topic in college football in years.

Now the discussion is whether the WAC superpower deserves a shot with the big boys for the crystal ball.

Since taking over as head coach in 2006, Chris Petersen has guided his teams to a record of 53-4, including two undefeated seasons in 2006 and 2009.

Supporters of Boise will argue that the Broncos have faced teams from BCS conferences in the past and have come out victorious.

In 2006, Boise defeated a 10-4 Oregon State team and Big 12 Champion Oklahoma 43-42 in the 2007 Fiesta Bowl in one of the greatest games in college football history. In each of the past two seasons, the Broncos have defeated Oregon, most notably in last year's season-opener, holding Chip Kelly's high-powered spread offense to just eight points.

This year, the Broncos traveled to Washington D.C. to play Virginia Tech to open the season and scored in the final minutes to win.

In every game the Broncos have been given the chance to prove they are a legitimate national championship contender, they have won. Plain and simple.

Critics of Boise argue that each time the Broncos have played in one of these big games, they have had plenty of time to rest and game plan, and that they wouldn't hold up facing an SEC schedule.

While that argument will never have a definitive answer, the thought that Boise couldn't compete in the SEC, at least this year, seems like a silly one.

Most can agree that this year's Boise team is its most talented and best team. It returned 23 starters from last year's team, which finished the year ranked No. 4 after defeating mid-major powerhouse TCU in the Fiesta Bowl 17-10.

While past Boise State teams might not have been a true title contender (Boise lost at Georgia 48-13 to open the 2005 season), its team this season could compete for an SEC and national title.

That doesn't mean they would win the SEC or a BCS Championship; it just means they would compete.

With the struggles Florida and LSU have had on offense this year, would either of those be able to slow down the Broncos enough to win?

Is this Boise team a top-five team? Maybe, but they are a top-10 team that would go about 9-3 or 10-2 with Tennessee's schedule.

Could they do better than that? Of course they could, but they could also do worse. No one knows, and all the "experts" have their own opinion. That's what makes college football fun.

The only way to see how Boise would match-up with an SEC team is to see them play the SEC Champion in the national title game or in the Sugar Bowl.

And even then, for some, a Broncos' win wouldn't mean anything, only because Boise had a month to prepare and were able to rest their starters in the fourth quarter of blowout wins against WAC teams.

And some people, they must have forgotten that Butler, a mid-major school, came within a point of winning the NCAA Men's Basketball National Championship against Duke earlier this year.

—Matt Dixon is a senior in journalism and electronic media. He can be reached at mdixon3@utk.edu.