Boise State will enter the 2013 football season with high expectations and a bit of mystery. Now that the Broncos have decided to stay in the Mountain West Conference as well as San Diego State, the conference will have 12 members.
With a dozen football teams, there will be two divisions with a conference championship game. That means the MWC won't have a shared title in 2013 like it did in 2012 when Fresno State, San Diego State and Boise State shared the trophy.
A two-division conference also means no team in the conference will play every other team in the conference. So, predicting the toughest games for the Broncos may be difficult until the schedule is announced.
However, let's look at some possibilities and the out-of-conference games already on the schedule to see which games may be the Broncos' biggest challenges of the season.
It won't be the same without coach Chris Ault, but it should still be a battle when the Wolf Pack comes to Boise in 2013. The long-time coach of Nevada called it quits in 2012, and his replacement Brian Polian will bring some mystery to the game.
In 2012, the Broncos went into Reno and took home victory 27-21. If these two teams meet next season, it will be an interesting game. With a new head coach and many unknowns in the lineup for Nevada, there is no way to know how good they will be.
Let's hope the MWC schedules these two in 2013. If it happens, it should be a great game.
If Boise State plays Utah State, they can expect fireworks. This is a team coming off an amazing season, and they have a decent amount of talent coming back. That includes their talented quarterback Chuckie Keeton.
The big mystery for the Aggies will be the same as the Wolf Pack. Utah State will have a new head coach in 2013 after Gary Andersen bolted for Wisconsin.
It should be a great game if it happens, but again, it will depend on how the divisions pan out.
San Jose State
They have talent coming back, and you can expect them to make some noise their first season in the MWC.
If this game is scheduled during the regular season, it will be a road game for Boise State. Last year, the Aztecs beat the Broncos in Boise, and you have to believe Chris Petersen and his team will be looking to return the favor in 2013.
There is no way to know if the conference divisions will allow these two to play in the regular season, but it would be a good thing if it could happen. However, even if that didn't happen then, they could end up playing in the MWC championship game against each other.
Either way, it will be quite a challenge for the Broncos.
Boise State hosted Fresno State in 2012, and the Bulldogs came ready to play. The game ended up being 20-10 in favor of the Broncos, but it was a battle.
First-year coach Tim DeRuyter did not suffer the same kind of defeat his predecessor had experienced, but you know he can't be happy about losing, even if it wasn't by four touchdowns or more.
Look for the rematch in Fresno to be another battle, but you have to believe the Bulldogs will be even more motivated in 2013. For the sake of the conference, let's hope this game happens. It would be a shame to not see these two meet in the regular season.
With the two-division format and so many unknowns, it is anyone's guess at this point. But, it is probably safe to say the MWC makes this one happen.
Boise State and BYU met in 2012 on The Blue, but it was not quite the game anyone expected. The two teams displayed excellent defense, but that's about it. In fact, in the 7-6 win by Boise State, the Broncos only score was a defensive touchdown.
In 2013, Boise goes to Provo. It will be quite the road trip, and you know many Bronco fans will make the journey. However, they will be a fraction of the crowd as the BYU faithful will be out in force and looking to get revenge.
It will be another brutal battle, and defense should once again rule the day. However, in 2013, look for some offense to make an appearance as well.
Boise State and Washington met in the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas in the 2012 season finale. It was a game that the Broncos won 28-26 on a late field goal, but these two teams will also meet in Seattle for the 2013 opener.
The Huskies will be looking for revenge, and they have the talent to get it.
Quarterback Keith Price will be playing as a senior for the Huskies when the Broncos come to town. He is a very capable player who has yet to live up to his potential.
Bishop Sankey is a talented running back who will be back for his junior year for Washington. He rushed for 205 yards in the first meeting of these two teams, and you can expect him to attempt to duplicate the process.
Boise State will be replacing seven starters on defense, so it could be quite a challenge for Chris Petersen and his team. But, if we have learned one thing it is that Boise State knows how to rebuild.
This should be the toughest game on the schedule for the Broncos, and a lot will be determined by how Boise State's quarterback Joe Southwick plays. He will most likely be the starter in Seattle, and if he can scramble and make plays like he did in Las Vegas, they should have a chance.
The Broncos will also be looking for a great game from their running back Jay Ajayi. He was not a factor in the first meeting, but he will need to be when these teams collide in late August.