Four-Year Trend: 2008 (12-1), 2009 (14-0), 2010 (12-1), 2011 (12-1)Top Newcomers: Chaz Anderson (DB), Travis Averill (OL), DeMarcus Lawrence (DL)
Notable Player: D.J. Harper. Boise State does not return a player who made an All-Conference team last season. Steady production from the running game will ease everyone’s burden. Harper, a senior running back, has shown flashes when he has stayed on the field (24 carries for 125 yards and two touchdowns against TCU last year). The Broncos will be looking for a huge senior season.
Circle This Game: Boise State at Michigan State [Aug. 31] The Spartans are the one marquee opponent on Boise State’s schedule. Winning this game keeps them in the national discussion. Losing it plummets them immediately into national irrelevance.
Why We Like Them: In Petersen we trust. The Broncos coach has a 73-6 record in six seasons at Boise State. He has taken the small school to within a missed field goal of a potential BCS title shot the past two seasons. Boise State loses a great deal, most notably the winningest quarterback in college football history, Kellen Moore, and virtually the entire defensive line. We have, however, seen no reason to believe Petersen’s next round of unheralded recruits and JUCO transfers won’t be just as good.
Best-Case Scenario: The new defensive starters up front gel immediately. Boise State’s weapons at receiver buoy the new quarterback. The Broncos pick off the Spartans, grappling with their own transition, in East Lansing. They run the table against a forgiving MWC schedule, one not strong enough to earn them their long-awaited title shot.
Worst-Case Scenario: Rebuilding Boise State cannot mask talent with execution. They lose offensive precision. Their defense is a work in progress. An early loss to Michigan State rattles the inexperienced players. The Broncos hold their own within the Mountain West Conference but finish a disappointing, by their standards, 8-4.
Big East Bound: Boise State, at the eleventh hour, confirmed it will leave the Mountain West Conference for the Big East after this season. Earning a third to half of major conference TV revenue is better than earning one tenth.
Projected Bowl: Poinsettia
[Photo via Getty]