Boise State "All-in" Again on Opening Night

Boise State "All-in" Again on Opening Night


As the great conference shake-up of 2011 unfolded, a lot of attention was deservedly given to former non-AQ schools, Utah and TCU for joining, or announcing they’ll soon join BCS conferences. BYU also garnered a lot of press with their declaration of independence. The non-AQ team that kind of got lost in all the madness was Boise State. They quietly shifted from the WAC to the Mountain West. Lest we forget, the Broncos have been the poster child for non-AQ success and don’t look now, but they are set up for a title run again this year.

#5 Boise State opens Saturday night against # 19 Georgia in Atlanta. Sounds like a repeat of last year when Boise State opened against Virginia Tech in Washington D.C. The Broncos won a de facto road game against a highly ranked team and it set them up for a run at the championship game. (Of course, Oregon and Auburn never lost and Boise ended up missing a chip shot field goal against Nevada to squander their perfect season) How about two years ago? Boise State opened up in 2009 against a ranked Oregon team and beat the Ducks in the infamous LeGarrette Blount “punch” game. This put Boise State on a path to an undefeated season in which they beat TCU in the Fiesta Bowl.

2011 could be setting up the same way. Because of all their success, Boise State is again ranked in the pre-season top 10 which is critical for making it all the way to #1 or 2 of the BCS rankings. A big win against Georgia will keep them there for some time. What helps even more this year is they’ll compete in the Mountain West Conference. With all the additions and subtractions, the MWC is close to what it’s been in terms of competition. It’s still a lesser league but top to bottom, the teams in the 2011 MWC will be stronger than the 2010 WAC. Take a look at Boise‘s 2011 schedule. It’s not the SEC West by any means, but it sure looks better than a steady diet of Idaho, New Mexico State, San Jose State and Louisiana Tech from years gone by. (BYU took that off their plate this year)

Boise State 2011 Schedule

#19 GeorgiaAtlanta, Georgia

Toledo – away

Tulsa – home

Nevada – home

Fresno State – away

Colorado State – away

Air Force – home

UNLV – away

#14 TCU – home

San Diego State – away

Wyoming – home

New Mexico – home

The most important piece of the MWC picture for Boise State is that TCU remains in the conference for one more year. TCU won’t be quite what they were last year but should bolster Boise‘s strength of schedule considerably. The Broncos get TCU at home as well. Another coup for Boise State is that despite ditching the WAC, they are scheduled to play two of the better teams in the WAC, Nevada and Fresno State, which both bolt to the MWC in 2012. They also play Tulsa who is respected for having a high powered offense. Anyway you slice it; an undefeated run through this year’s schedule would be more impressive than anything Boise‘s done before.

Perhaps the biggest reason to think Boise State can run the table is the return of their all-world, senior quarterback. Kellen Moore is a known commodity and will garner Heisman hype, especially if he beats Georgia on Saturday night on ESPN. Boise State did lose their 2 best receivers to the NFL in Titus Young and Austin Pettis. It remains to be seen who Kellen Moore will toss all his touchdowns passes to this year. Head Coach Chris Petersen has proven time and again he’s one of the best in the business and I’m sure will have the offense clicking just fine. Look for Boise State to play relatively closer games this year though. Their average margin of victory last year was 32.25 points. You won’t see quite as many 52-14 thrashings this year.

Another side story of the Georgia game Saturday night-

Georgia obliterated WAC member, Hawaii, back in the 2008 Sugar Bowl after they were the non AQ Cinderella of 2007. Hawaii had Colorado transfer, Colt Brennan as their QB that year. Hawaii went on a great run but was embarrassed against Georgia. Georgia fans and SEC Honks are probably thinking it’s time to restore order again and send the pretenders back home like they did in the 2008 Sugar Bowl. Personally, I don’t see it happening. Boise State is for real.

Finally, Georgia head coach, Mark Richt is under the gun this year. Bulldog fans expect more than he’s delivered since the 2007 Sugar Bowl year. Should Georgia lose Saturday, they will likely start 0-2 as they play a very good South Carolina team the following week.

For my money, Boise State is still the most exciting story in college football. If you were to script a perfect reality show about college football, they would be it. They always deliver in terms of entertainment.

Even if things fall in their favor, Boise State will still be at the mercy of Oklahoma and whoever comes out of the SEC. As it stands today, that scenario would be the likely title game. Boise just needs to go out Saturday night and take care of business against Georgia. Should they win, they’ll be set on a path to the top of the rankings. Title game or not, they would be a shoe-in for a BCS game and the accompanying $ millions if they win out. For the 3rd year in a row, everything is on the line on opening night for the Broncos.

Matt Nielson has been writing about the college sports landscape in Utah and the Intermountain West since 2010. When he’s not pretending to be a professional blogger, he works full time as a residential real estate agent and house flipper. Matt graduated from Brigham Young University in 2000. He and his family reside in Salt Lake City, UT.


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