The 2012 football season is less than 90 days away. That means that less than three months separate the players, coaches, fans and fanatics from the passionate frenzy that is college football.
Every year the world known as CFB amazes, surprises and inspires a nation in ways that few sports ever have or ever will. The pageantry, butterflies, sounds and smells of game day are as unique as the fanbases that experience them.
The Boise State Broncos are just one of the many star contributors in the theater of the game. Across a blue canvas of grit and determination, they create drama and intrigue to an already alluring attraction.
This season the Broncos will enter some uncharted waters, however. Never before in the history of the storied program have expectations been so high and yet the outcome so unknown.
With the overwhelming success Boise State has experienced on the field, certain high expectations have become the norm. However, this season many who follow the Broncos and the game itself don't really know what to expect from the guys in the orange and blue.
Some say it will be another typical year of Bronco domination. Still, others claim a monumental collapse. There are those predicting something in between as well, but until the season commences, it is all just guess work.
So what is wrong with guessing?
Speculation and postulating are just two of the many crazy wonderful and maddening elements of the circus so many of us have come to love.
With that in mind, let's look at some bold guess work. How will Boise State do in 2012? Here are three predictions presented for your deliberation.
The Broncos have opened the last three seasons with monumental wins over some powerhouse opponents.
In 2009 it was the defeat of Oregon on the Blue. Of course, that win was overshadowed by the punch heard round the college football world.
In 2010 it was the come from behind victory on the road before a hostile Virginia Tech dominated crowd at Fedex Field. This was a game that few had given the Broncos a chance of winning, but those same voices were silenced in a story book finish as Kellen Moore led Boise State to one of the biggest wins in school history.
In 2011 it was of course the thoroughly convincing win over the Georgia Bulldogs, which again, was a game many were claiming the Broncos would drop. However, the Broncos cruised to victory in the Georgia Dome showing the nation that they could handle a team from the SEC.
Fast forward one season and the same critical and nay-saying banter will no doubt be cast about. You will probably hear the criticism and analysis as the opener draws closer.
The words of pundits and self-appointed pollsters will echo from radio and television broadcasts everywhere. Printed criticisms pointing out that the Broncos have lost too many players to keep up with a Michigan State will leap from the pages of publications and websites scattered about the land.
Michigan State will be heralded as a team that should be a force in the B1G—as well they should be.
But, if coach Chris Petersen and his players have anything to say about it, and they will, then the critics and doubters may once again have to eat some humble pie.
Which brings us to bold prediction number one. The Broncos will once again shock the nation in a big-time season opener.
Yes, the Broncos lost most of their starting line up from 2011.
Yes, they will have to replace their leading rusher from one year ago, Doug Martin, and their amazing four-year starting quarterback, Kellen Moore.
Yes, they will have to replace the entire defensive line that had spent the last couple of seasons shutting down every running offense that they faced.
However, if we have learned anything about the Boise State Broncos over the last decade, it is that you never want to count them out. Not only that, but the Broncos have been masterful in the Chris Petersen era of winning games they have considerable time to prepare for.
There are three reasons that make this "bold prediction" plausible.
1. Reloading Rather than Rebuilding
The Broncos looked good in the spring, and they appear to be equipped to reload rather than have to rebuild. There are many key players on both sides of the ball that appear poised to make serious noise in 2012.
2. A New Offensive Coordinator
Robert Prince has come on board in 2012. He brings a shot in the arm for an offense ready to transform from a pocket passing quarterback attack to a mobile threat behind center. His approach should be more like the kind of offensive Bronco fans have come accustom to as compared to a somewhat conservative approach last season.
3. The Element of Surprise
The Broncos in 2012 are an unknown. As secret as Chris Petersen likes to keep things, you can expect him to keep his cards close to his chest as the season opener approaches.
The offense the Broncos present to the Spartans will be brand new. You can expect it to consist of more mobility at quarterback and more diversity and aggressiveness. We saw some of that already in the spring game, but as players lock down positions and gel as a unit, you can expect that to increase.
The Spartans will have a hard time preparing for an offense they have never seen. There will certainly be guess work in trying to determine how to approach the Broncos, but it will be just that—guess work.
Michigan State will have a good defense in 2012, but if you don't know how to prepare for your opponent, it makes it difficult to shut down any team that can execute. The Broncos are known for execution.
To say the Boise State Broncos will win the Mountain West Conference in 2012 may not seem that bold to some. However, there are forces standing in the way of Boise State achieving that goal.
The way it looks at this point, there are three teams that could give the Broncos fits in the MWC in 2012.
The Broncos will have to travel to Laramie, Wyoming, in late October to take on the Cowboys. Wyoming has a good number of returning starters coming back from a team that played in the New Mexico Bowl in 2011.
This will be a challenging game, and you can expect the Cowboys to have revenge on their minds as Boise State handed them a 36-14 loss last season.
The Wyoming game will be the first big challenge on the MWC schedule in 2012 for the Broncos. Before playing the Cowboys, they play New Mexico away and Fresno State and UNLV at home.
The Wolf Pack of Nevada are a bur in the saddle of the Broncos. When these two teams meet, it is almost always a crazy game.
Most Bronco fans want to forget the last time BSU traveled to Nevada late in the season. Let's just say it didn't go the way the Broncos wanted it to.
This season the Broncos and the Wolf Pack will meet on the last week of the regular season. It could very well be for the Mountain West Conference championship.
It should be a thrilling conclusion to the season, and if Boise State is on their game, they should take home the victory.
Which brings us to the last team that could give the Broncos trouble—themselves.
3. Boise State
The only team in the Mountain West that the Broncos could lose to in 2012 is themselves. The past two seasons have brought painful losses that could have been avoided.
Against Nevada in 2010, the Broncos played poorly on defense in the second half of a game that they led 24-7 at halftime. They allowed the Wolf Pack to move the ball with relative ease at times in the third and fourth quarters and Nevada took full advantage of that.
Of course, then the barely wide-right field goal by Kyle Brotzman at the end of regulation and the wide-right field goal by Brotzman in overtime doomed the Broncos. However, you can't put it all on Kyle Brotzman because the offense in overtime seemed to falter and appeared to be gassed.
TCU last season was somewhat the same kind of story. The Broncos secondary was lit up for five touchdowns and nearly 500 yards. Boise State was dealing with injuries and limited personnel, but those who did play didn't step up to what was needed.
Again, it came down to a missed field goal, but had Boise State been a bit more aggressive in the play-calling on that last drive and trusted the winningest quarterback in college football with more on that series, it could have ended much differently.
In 2012 one of the biggest opponents BSU will face is BSU.
The Broncos may not be the same caliber of team in 2012 that they were in 2011, but the situation could be more conducive for them to make a BCS bowl appearance.
All Boise State has to do is finish in the Top 16 ahead of a BCS conference champion or in the Top 12 in the final BCS standings to make it back to the BCS.
The way it looks right now, there are three solid reasons the Broncos could be back in a BCS bowl in 2012.
1. The Competition
Last season the Broncos had to compete for that coveted spot with TCU and Houston. This season, however, with Houston doing a serious rebuilding job and TCU in the Big 12, the Broncos have a clearer path.
2. The Schedule
The Broncos get criticized for strength of schedule, and this season will be no different. However, this year that same lack of strength of schedule may actually help them.
Boise State opens with Michigan State, but beyond that, you have to wonder if the Broncos will meet another ranked opponent.
BYU may be ranked and so might Nevada, but besides those two, there are few candidates on the 2012 schedule that seem poised to crack the Top 25.
Victories against ranked or even unranked opponents should be enough to keep Boise State in the Top 16 as long as those victories aren't closer than they should be.
As the season wears on and teams fall from the Top 16, Boise State should be equipped to remain in the driver's seat.
3. One Loss May Not Stop Them
Even if the Broncos lose to Michigan State, which they probably won't, the Broncos could find their way to another Fiesta Bowl.
As previously mentioned, they only have to meet the requirements set forth by the BCS. If they lose to the Spartans, they could still run the table and be in a prime position for a lucrative BCS game.
Ah, college football, what a crazy and wonderful world.