I remember my first semester at Boise State. It was June and I was beginning my academic journey with a summer course to try and get a class ahead. I remember the warm summer, the small town feel in a city, the river by day, the hot springs by night, and growing vibe of Boise State football. The Broncos were coming off a Fiesta Bowl victory of against fellow G5 powerhouse, TCU. The atmosphere was electric leading up to the season. Expectations were high and rightfully so.
We all know how that season ended. A missed kick (we still love you Brotzman) dashed the Bronco’s hopes of being the first G5 school to play for a national title that we undoubtedly would have won against Oregon or Auburn that season (my opinion, discuss with me on Twitter if you’d like). Now, the start of every football season brings with it hope, excitement, and if you’re like me, relief. However, I have not felt the excitement described above, until now. This season brings with it high hopes and even higher expectations.
The Broncos opened the season on the road with Sun Belt Champion, Troy. Boise did not disappoint. After the 56-20 beat down the Boys in Blue laid on the Trojans, the high hopes and excitement for the season just became more justified.
With Boise State bringing back an incredibly talented team loaded with experience, the Broncos have been pre-season favorites in many of the polls ranging from Division Title favorites to Conference Title favorites to NY6 Bowl favorites.
While we can spend hours poring over the season, let’s focus on a few keys in conference match-ups, as well as the OOC schedule.
Looking at the Bronco’s schedule, we see a stronger slate of opponents not only in OOC, but also in an increasingly talented conference. Boise will begin the 2018 campaign against Troy in Alabama in impressive fashion.
Boise State heads home the next week to take on the UCONN Huskies. The Huskies struggled last season only amassing three wins and two were against teams that managed to be worse than them. Not much to say here other than try to stay for the whole game, Bronco Nation.
The next week brings the goliath match-up that Bronco Nation has been eagerly waiting for. The heavyweight bout with Oklahoma State. The Broncos will be traveling to Stillwater to face off against a strong and talented Oklahoma State squad. There are mixed reviews on this game from the “experts” as I have seen an even split on who will emerge victorious in this game among writers not affiliated with either university.
A key match-up will be the Bronco secondary against the Oklahoma State passing attack. With a new quarterback and the loss of key targets from last season, the Boise secondary will look to limit the Cowboy’s well-known air attack. At running back, Oklahoma State is anything but limited in talent and speed. The Cowboy’s depth chart for week 1 has Justice Hill listed as the starter. The 5-10, 190-pound junior is boasting some serious speed, strength, and field awareness that the Broncos will need to contain if they hope to leave Stillwater with a victory.
At quarterback, the Cowboys have Taylor Cornelius listed as the current starter. With only 220 career yards over three seasons under his belt, the red-shirt senior will have some serious proving to do to keep the starting job. The passing game presents the weakest point Oklahoma State’s team. The inexperience and lack of playing time for this unit can leave them vulnerable against a team like Boise State, and before the two meet on the field, Oklahoma State doesn’t look to be tested all that much.
The Cowboys opened the season in thrilling fashion against Missouri State. Oklahoma State won that match-up easily by a score of 58-17. Cornelius threw for 300 yards and 5 touchdowns. The Cowboys packed a 1-2 punch at running back with Hill tallying up 122 yards and 1 touchdown, and La’Darren Brown adding an additional 110 yards and a score of his own.
No Cowboy receiver reached over 66 yards, but Cornelius hit multiple targets. By spreading his passing around, the Broncos won’t have a single receiver to hone in on and will need to be ready for anything that comes their way.
Either way, this game will be difficult for both teams. I see this as more of an uphill battle for Oklahoma State than I do the Broncos. That isn’t to say that Boise will not have their hands full. The Broncos will need to have their focus laser sharp if they expect to leave Stillwater with a win.
Mountain West Foes
Boise State begins conference play after the match-up with the Cowboys. Regardless of what happens in Stillwater, the schedule gets no easier for the Broncos as they head to Laramie to face a stingy Wyoming defense. While it’s still early in the season, the Cowboys are boasting the 27th ranked defense in the nation at the moment. The Wyoming offense is young but can do some damage.
The Broncos will head home the next week to face another stingy in-conference opponent in San Diego State. The Aztecs are carrying a very balanced team and gave Stanford a scare in week one. While it’s early to say, this could very likely be a Mountain West Title Game Preview.
While every game carries a level of importance, the next give match-up for the Broncos won’t come until November when Boise State faces Fresno State. The Bulldogs are coming off a fantastic season under second-year head coach Jeff Tedford. Fresno beat the Broncos last season in regular season play before falling to them in the Conference Title game.
While the schedule is not as favorable as years past for the Broncos, they certainly are lucky to have the developed talent to get them through this season potentially undefeated.
Let’s go right out and say it. The expectation of many in Bronco Nation is big, like NY6 big. There is also no reason to think the Broncos aren’t going to go January bowling either. With a strong schedule coupled with a talented team like this one is a nice combination for an NY6 bid. But let’s not forget that there is an entire season between the Broncos and the Fiesta/Sugar/Rose etc.
Expectations are always all over the place among fans, but what would be considered a successful season? With expectations running high, would Bronco Nation be content with a conference title and a Las Vegas bowl bid?
There is only one real way to find out the answer to that question and it’s located in December. So be patient Bronco Nation.