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Boise State is looking to bounce back from a somewhat disappointing season after going 9-4 overall with a 5-3 conference record. Anytime the Broncos don’t win their MWC division, it’s considered a disappointment. In addition, they lost two games at home, which was unheard of, but closed the season by dismantling Northern Illinois 55-7 in the Poinsettia Bowl. With major talent back on the offensive side and a defense that is annually one of the best in the conference, they should be back on top of the Mountain division.
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The Broncos return their top skill players, but will be using head coach Bryan Harsin to call plays with the help of co-offensive coordinators. They scored 39.1 points per game last year and should be near that total again, no matter who is calling the shots. Quarterback Brett Rypien is the start of all of that after a productive freshman season in which he threw for 20 touchdowns, 8 interceptions, while completing 63.5% of his passes. Rypien should further improve with top receivers Thomas Sperback (88 receptions, 1,412 yards, 8 TDs) and Chaz Anderson (578 yards, 3 TDs) returning to the mix to go with tight end Jake Roh (33 receptions, 357 yards).
And this doesn’t even include running back Jeremy McNichols, who was at the head of everything Boise State did last year. He ran for 1,337 yards and 20 touchdowns, while also catching 51 balls for 460 yards and 6 more touchdowns. Talk about production. The offensive line does have some pieces missing with left tackle and center both being new starters. However, that shouldn’t stop this offense from being elite any time soon.
The defense was just as good as the offense last year, at least statistically, allowing 20.2 points per game and only 108.2 rushing yards per game. However, they were dismantled in most of their losses, giving up 52 points to Utah State and 37 to Air Force. Just like the offense, they’ll have a new coordinator in Andy Avalos, former linebackers coach.
But unlike the offense, the defense has a lot of new faces with inexperience at multiple positions. The line is the weakest of the bunch after being one of the best run stoppers in the country. Only one player returns with much experience, although there is a few seniors on the two-deep with Sam McCaskill expected to be the best one at end. At the least, linebacker is mostly set with seniors Ben Weaver and Tanner Vallejo leading the way. The secondary was the weak spot on the defense last year, and has some questions again, but corner Jonathan Moxey and safety Chanceller James are both solid options as seniors.
Boise State would like to get back to the MWC title game, but now they’ll have to travel to teams they lost at home to a year ago with New Mexico and Air Force on the slate. However, that’s about as difficult as it gets in conference play outside of hosting Utah State. Their schedule against the West is quite favorable as well with San Jose State, Hawaii and UNLV being the competition. Sure, Boise has one of the tougher non-conference schedules, but that won’t stop them from winning the Mountain division. Losses could accrue in any of those games, with road tests at UL Lafayette and Oregon State to go with a home game against Washington State.
But even with a tougher non-conference slate, their over/under is a bit interesting compared to Air Force’s (8.5 wins). Boise’s over/under at 5Dimes was at 11 (over -160) in early June. The offense will be good, but the defense has its holes and they aren’t guaranteed to win the Mountain division either with Air Force right on their tails.
2016 Boise State Broncos Football Schedule
Sept. 3 at Louisiana-Lafayette
Sept. 10 vs. Washington State
Sept. 24 at Oregon State
Oct. 1 vs. Utah State
Oct. 8 at New Mexico
Oct. 15 vs. Colorado State
Oct. 20 vs. BYU
Oct. 29 at Wyoming
Nov. 5 vs. San Jose State
Nov. 12 at Hawaii
Nov. 18 vs. UNLV
Nov. 26 at Air Force
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