What does Alabama have to gain by playing Boise State -- particularly in Idaho? Boise State is a very good team in a weak conference. If Alabama beats Boise, everyone will say that's what the Crimson Tide should have done. A loss would be less about Boise State winning the game and more about the loss of prestige to Alabama for losing to the Broncos. In other words, there are no style points for Alabama beating Boise State and huge style points lost if 'Bama lost the game.
In contrast Alabama will play Duke next year. Duke is an bad/average team from a good conference -- the ACC. While Boise State is better than Duke, Alabama, because Duke plays in the ACC, will get far more style points if they beat the Blue Demons than if they beat Boise State. And, because the Blue Demons are in the ACC, Alabama will lose fewer style points if it loses to Duke.
Case in point -- last week I heard a lot of chatter among national pundits about how Georgia Tech had beaten two SEC teams. This sounds impressive until you consider who the Jackets beat -- Mississippi State and Vanderbilt. Boise State could have beaten Mississippi State and Vanderbilt and both teams would be merely average to good in the WAC. But, both the Commodores and Bulldogs are weak teams from a strong conference, which means that beating those teams add style points for the winning team.
Now, teams like Vanderbilt and Mississippi State will not schedule a team like Boise State because they need nonconference wins to become bowl eligible. With nine SEC bowl tie-ins, all an SEC team has to do is win six games to get a bowl bid. It ain't fair, I know, but it is the way the system works. So you schedule four nonconference teams that you should be able to beat. Then you only have to win two SEC games to go to a bowl. Teams like Florida, Alabama, LSU, etc. won't schedule a team like Boise State because they get nothing if they win the game and lose a lot of prestige if they lose the game, even though Boise State has a pretty good football team.
As long as beating Duke gives more style points than beating Boise State, Alabama will not play the Broncos at home or away. The best chance Boise has to play an Alabama in the regular season is to get someone, like Nike, to sponsor an season-opener at a neutral site in an area that Alabama -- or the other major BCS school -- wants to recruit. That will give Alabama, or another major BCS school, incentive to play Boise, with the incentive being impressing a lot of potential recruits. There would also be style points due to the game being heavily promoted by network television and the sponsor and negative style points would be mitigated since the game is the season-opener.
Otherwise, the Broncs need to get into a BCS conference. And, that is the bottom line....