Boise State first made noise on the national scene at the end of 2006 when the Broncos upended Big 12 champ Oklahoma in the Fiesta Bowl. Since then, BSU has beaten BCS conference notables Oregon (twice) and Virginia Tech along with non-BCS powerhouses Utah (formerly non-BCS anyway) and TCU on their way to amassing a stellar 61-5 record over the last five seasons.
Predictably, regular stints in the Top 10 of every major football poll has made life in the shadow of the Sawtooth Range feel like a veritable Columbus, Ohio — albeit with blue astroturf and better skiing. Thanks to a 14-0 run in 2009 and a number 4 final finish in the AP poll, Boise State started with the school’s highest preseason ranking ever (at #3) in 2010.
The preseason prognosticators are not quite as bullish on the Broncos this time around, but the return of Heisman-contender, Kellen Moore, along with 13 other starters, sees BSU poking its head into early Top 10 lists again this year. Boise is ranked fifth by Mark Schlabach of ESPN. Nationalchamps.net rates them 6th while Sports Illustrated’s Andy Staples and CBS’ Dennis Dodd have them just outside the Top 10 at numbers 11 and 13 respectively. Rivals.com puts the Broncos in at 10th in their early poll.
I see no reason to argue with the experts on this. I have Boise State 8th in my own preseason Top 25
A relatively favorables schedule should have the Broncos collecting another round of double-digit wins.
As in the recent past, BSU opens 2011 with a marquis match-up against a BCS big-dog. Bulldogs, to be precise. From Athens.
Georgia has slipped in stature over the past few seasons. Beating the dawgs in Atlanta might not presently have the same cache as beating Virginia Tech or Oregon but, if the Broncos can light up the board on Georgia, it will be hard to ignore that they did it against the school of Vince Dooley and Herschel Walker. And an SEC upper-tier program to boot.
Tulsa rounds out the nonconference schedule in respectable fashion as the Golden Hurricane basks in the glow of a 10-3 2010 campaign. Following this home match, former (and future) conference rival, Nevada, will attempt to prove their victory over the Broncos in 2010 was no fluke. The Wolf Pack was the surprise team of last season, sporting an impressive 13-1 record while laying waste to Cal and BYU before tipping over Boise State’s apple cart.
Boise State finishes the season with three road trips, including one to temporary Mountain West behemoth, TCU. After one season together in what might have been a BCS-confernce-worthy coupling, the Horned Frogs head off to the Big East for some straight up Bowl Championship Series credentials.