Boise State has been a model of consistency in the Mountain West Conference. The last time the Broncos had a losing season was when Bill Clinton was still in the White House, and their worst finish in the past 12 years is 7-5, the first year of current head coach Andy Avalos' tenure.
The Broncos since 2010 have had nine double-digit-win seasons. In 2023, the Broncos look poised for 10 or more wins and, potentially, a New Year's Six bowl berth.
Boise State 2023 Preview
The conference: Mountain West Conference (Note: MWC got rid of the two divisions this spring)
2022 record: 10-4 (Went to the Frisco Bowl, beating North Texas 35-32. Ashton Jeanty had 28 carries for 178 yards and a touchdown, a Boise State record in a bowl game.
Conference finish: Second place, and 8-0 in the Mountain West. Lost in the MW title game to Fresno State 28-16.
Head coach: Andy Avalos (third year at Boise State: 17-9 overall)
Five all-star candidates: Taylen Green (redshirt sophomore), quarterback (2,042 yards, 14 touchdowns, 6 interceptions; 81 carries for 644 yards, 10 touchdowns) (was named to the Davey O'Brien Award and Maxwell Award watchlists); George Holani (senior), running back (221 carries for 1,190 yards, 10 touchdowns) (was named to the Doak Walker Award and Paul Hornung Award watchlists); Ashton Jeanty (sophomore), running back (156 carries for 845 yards, 7 touchdowns); DJ Schramm (senior), linebacker (107 tackles, 11 tackles for loss) (was named to the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Butkus Award watchlists); Cade Beresford (senior), right tackle (was named to the second team All-Mountain West and is on the Outland Trophy watch list)
The newcomer: Sheldon Newton (junior), nose tackle (transfer from Football Championship Subdivision's Northern Arizona) (36 tackles, 6 tackles for loss, 3 sacks). At 6-foot-3 and 328 pounds, Newton will easily occupy a lot of space in the middle of the defense and will be a staunch run defender.
Can Anyone Break the Broncos in 2023?
Boise State is coming off a 10-4 year and shows a lot of promise coming into this season. The Broncos are in a different state than at this time last year. Taylen Green was exactly that — a greenhorn. In late September, Green took the reins and never looked back. Green combined for more than 2,600 yards and 24 total touchdowns. His passing improved as the season wore on, and this year he has already been named to the Davey O'Brien Award and Maxwell Award watchlists. He will likely compete with San Jose State's Chevan Cordeiro as the best quarterback in the Mountain West.
Green doesn't have to do it alone on offense. The Broncos have two horses with serious horsepower. The one-two rushing punch of George Holani and Ashton Jeanty is a lethal combo for a lot of defenses. Holani and Jeanty combined for more than 2,000 yards last year. The fact that the Broncos have two star running backs allows the offense to share the workload and lessen the chance of injury for both players.
Getting linebacker DJ Schramm (107 tackles in 2022) back for his sixth season is big for the Broncos' defense. The senior is on the Bronko Nagurski Trophy and Butkus Award watchlists. Last year, this defense was impressive, only giving up 19.5 points per game and 293 yards per game. Only five starters return for the Boise State defense this year, so there will be a learning curve for some young players. They will have to learn on the fly.
The Key Game and Why
The Broncos' key game is the last game of the year, when they face the Falcons from Air Force. That game is Nov. 25 and could determine home-field advantage for the title game. Both teams play good defense and love to run the football. Last season, the Broncos edged out Air Force 19-14.
The Toughest Game and Why
This is from the perspective of the Broncos getting an NY6 Bowl bid or an outside chance at the College Football Playoff. The games against Washington and University of Central Florida are pivotal. Washington isn't in the Top 25 rankings just yet but could be really good by season end in the Pac-12 north. UCF is in its first year in the Big 12. UCF has stunned good teams before, and they have made a habit of it. If the Broncos can get a win against the Knights and the Knights finish strong in the Big 12, it could push Boise State ahead of other teams in the American Athletic Conference, Sun Belt and Conference USA that are looking for an NY6 Bowl bid.
The Chances of Reaching Conference Title Game
The Broncos were the preseason pick by many in the media to win the Mountain West. They should have a really good chance to once again be in the title game. There is a two-week stretch that will test the Broncos: They get Wyoming at home in late October and then go to Fresno to take on the Bulldogs in the first week of November. Wyoming has a very stout defense, and Fresno is a very dangerous team again this season. The Broncos' only question mark is its defense, because it has so few starters back. Offensively, though, this team is loaded and dangerous.
The Broncos have a very challenging non-conference schedule. They are at Washington, host UCF and take on G5 Memphis, which looks to jump back to the top in the AAC. To solidify a position for a NY6 bowl game berth, the Broncos need to run the table on their non-conference schedule. If they do that, they will be ranked. Boise State is an exciting young team with a young head coach in Andy Avalos, who could build off the momentum of a 10-4 record from last year. The ceiling for this team is 11 wins; at worst, it's a nine-win team.
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