Boise State has turned into one of the safest bets not only in the G5 but in the country at-large over the last decade. With 109 wins in the past ten years, a 10-3 season last year almost felt disappointing.
The Mountain West is taking a step forward this year with a lot of interesting programs expected to improve, Boise State loses their top rusher, top passer, and top receiver, and yet, they still come into 2019 as the conference favorites
1,400+ yard rusher Alex Mattison is gone along with 3,700+ yard passer Brett Rypien and receivers Sean Modster and AJ Richardson, who combined for over 1,800 yards. This, however, is still one of the most talented offenses in the G5, largely thanks to the incredible recruiting that Bryan Harsin has done over the past few years.
Sophomore Andrew Van Buren is the new starter at running back. At 4.8 yards per carry he actually slightly outpaced Mattison on average as a freshman. The Broncos have five exciting true/redshirt freshman at the running back spot between Marcus Washington, Spencer Keene, Danny Smith, George Holani, and Keegan Duncan.
The line will be the best in the conference as all five starters return including all-conference left tackle Ezra Cleveland.
The quarterback spot is a question mark. Last year’s backup, Chase Cord, missed some time with an ACL tear and true freshman Hank Bachmeir is a four-star true freshman that could challenge for the job.
Despite losing Modster and Richardson there are still many interesting pass catchers to throw to including upperclassmen John Hightower (16.3 YPC) and TE John Bates (15.5 YPC), slot men CT Thomas and Akillian Butler, four-star sophomore Khalil Shakir and many others. Highly touted JUCO transfer Austin Griffin will also come in at tight end.
As long as they can find a QB that can somewhat fill Rypien’s shoes, this will be a dangerous offense and one of the best in the Mountain West despite the losses.
Seven starters return on defense in a group led by DE Curtis Weaver (9.5 sacks, 5.5 TFL), NB Kekaula Kaniho (three interceptions), CB Avery Williams (9 PBUs) and S Kekoa Nawahine (71 tackles). S DeAndre Pierce returns after missing most of last year with an injury They must replace their coordinator but bring in a good one in former Eastern Washington DC Jeff Schmedding.
A bunch of names return on the line to accompany Weaver between Chase Hatada, Sonatane Lui, and David Moa who is back from injury. They also add an intriguing recruit on the line in end Casey Kline. WLB Riley Whimpey returns after 55 tackles last year.
There are really no holes on this defense outside of maybe middle linebacker where sophomore Zeke Noa may have to step into a big role. My biggest concern would probably be depth as there are plenty of freshmen in backup roles, but the starting 11 is quite experienced. This could be one of the top defenses in the G5 after dipping last year.
The schedule shapes out really nicely for Boise State. Tough enough that they could suffer a loss or two and still be in contention for a New Year’s Six bowl thanks to non-conference games against Florida State, BYU, and Marshall, but not too tough. In fact, Boise will be one of just a handful of teams favored in every game this year, albeit by less than a point on two occasions. Just two conference games are projected within ten points (@ Utah State, @ Colorado State). Boise hasn’t made a New Year’s Six bowl since a 38-30 win over Arizona in the 2014 Fiesta Bowl, but I think they could make their way back to the big stage despite the losses at the skill positions on offense.
|Date||Opponent||opp. rank||Proj. Margin|
|31-Aug||vs. Florida State (jacksonville, fl)||34||0.5|
|2-Nov||at San Jose State||116||14.2|
|23-Nov||at Utah State||73||2.6|
|29-Nov||at Colorado State||103||7.5|
Average Projected Record: 9.1 wins, 2.9 losses (6.3 wins, 1.7 losses)