If I were to tell you that a college football team was returning an 1800-plus yard passer who threw 16 touchdown passes and ran in for 6 more, a running back who rushed for 1400-plus yards and 18 touchdowns, a wide receiver who caught 12 touchdown passes for over 1100 yards and 18 of 21 of their top tacklers from a year ago you would probably expect that team to perform fairly well in the upcoming season. And if I were to also tell you that this same team won 8 games last season you would probably expect that team to continue to ascend and win more than 8 games this season. All of these things are true about the Broncos of Boise State. Long gone are the days where Boise State needed a hook-and-ladder or statue of liberty play to win football games and these days the Broncos have enough talent and cache to compete with and beat just about anyone in the country. Head Coach Chris Petersen did leave for the Washington job but his replacement Bryan Harsin came up through the ranks in Boise and is back this time as the Head Coach after stints as an assistant at Texas and the head job at Arkansas State where he went 8-5 and was only one loss away from winning the Sun Belt. Quarterback Grant Hedrick accounted for 22 touchdowns in 2013 and will be expected to be the senior leader in 2014 but the offense goes as Jay Ajayi goes. Ajayi, pronounced uh-JAY-ee, carried the ball 249 times in 2013 for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns. A basically all-new offensive line will need to pave the way for the rushing attack if this offense is going to continue to be productive.
The Broncos open the 2014 season not on the infamous blue turf but on the regular ole green turf of the Georgia Dome on the opening Thursday night of the college football season against up-and-coming Ole Miss which should turn out to be an extremely good game. In 2013 Boise State lost all five games away from the blue turf of Bronco Stadium. Improving their record on the road this season will be a key factor in whether the Broncos get back to double-digit victories in 2014. Back-to-back road games at Air Force and Nevada in late September and early October will be a tough stretch for Boise State and will be the true litmus test to how well the Broncos will fare this season. Plus, a perfectly placed bye week before a home date with bitter rival Fresno State on a Friday night can’t hurt the schedule too much, especially since last season’s heart-wrenching last-minute 41-40 loss to Fresno State broke a 7-game win streak against the Bulldogs for Boise State. Last Season the Broncos did defeat Mountain West: Mountain division champion Utah State on the road and they finish the season in 2014 against Chuckie Keeton and the Aggies in Bronco Stadium, which might be for the Mountain division crown.
Former Boise State Head Coach Chris Petersen always said that he was ‘never looking for blue-er pastures’ despite having left following the 2013 season for the head job at Washington. Historically, when head coaches leave Boise they end up not doing as well as they did on the blue turf and the guy that takes over afterwards just keeps the Bronco train rolling down the tracks. Bryan Harsin will continue to keep Boise State at the top of the Mountain West Conference and with all the skill player talent he has to work with, may just win the whole thing in his first season. The Broncos have everything in place to make a serious push to a top bowl game if their offensive line can gel early.
Stay logged on to Sowegalive.com for Team #22 on Thursday and tune in to the Southern Football Report every Saturday from 10am-Noon starting on August 23rd! Here is a hint for Team #22: This team originally was just called the ‘Varsity’ and went by such until their current nickname was given in a sports column in 1914.
#25 – Michigan Wolverines
#24 – Northwestern Wildcats
#23 – Boise State Broncos
#22 – ?????????????