Boise State is heading into the 2013 college football season with some momentum, several key returning starters and, as usual, high expectations.
The 2013 season looks to be a good one for the Broncos, and it could be another BCS year. However, before the Broncos can go bowling they are going to have to overcome a few obstacles in their path.
Let's look at three big challenges that head coach Chris Petersen will have to lead his team through in 2013.
Boise State left the Mountain West Conference only to come back to it before it ever left. It was the best thing to do for the Broncos considering the circumstances, and the rest of the Mountain West seemed glad to have them back.
However, you have to believe the honeymoon in-conference was short lived, and with the new television contract that some say favors the Broncos, you have to think the rest of the MWC will be doing even more this season to take down the team from Boise, Idaho.
The Mountain West is a much better football conference than many give them credit for. Coach Petersen knows that as much as anyone.
Teams like Fresno State, Nevada, Air Force and San Diego State seem to be good season after season, and they are always gunning to upset the Broncos.
This season, Utah State and San Jose State join the conference to make it even better. Both teams were ranked last season, and both look to be solid in 2013.
Boise will not have to play San Jose in the regular season, but Utah State is on the schedule.
One of Chris Petersen's biggest challenges will be facing a slew of Mountain West teams that will be extra motivated to topple his team in 2013.
The Broncos have some challenging games on their schedule in 2013. Washington, Utah State, Fresno State, BYU and San Diego State are all games that will test coach Petersen's team.
The other thing that makes those games even more difficult is that every one of them is on the road.
Boise State does get Nevada and Air Force at home, but the bulk of its most difficult games will be away from the friendly confines of Bronco Stadium. This makes a BCS run even more difficult.
However, if anyone can get their team ready to play week after week in hostile environments, it is Petersen. He knows how to motivate and prepare his team, and those skills will most definitely be needed in 2013.
The Broncos have some very good starters coming back in 2013. Quarterback Joe Southwick and nearly all of his receivers are back, as are a few key linemen and a backup running back in Jay Ajayi who seems like he is ready to start.
On defense, there are bigger questions marks. Cornerback is populated by a group of young players with only a moderate amount of playing time, and the defensive line is down one very good player.
When Boise State announced it had kicked starting defensive end Sam Ukwuachu off of the team for an unspecified reason, more than a few Broncos fans were disappointed. But not in Coach Petersen. Coach Pete has shown year after year that he will not compromise his standards.
Still, Ukwuachu was unbelievable last season, and he will certainly be missed.
Kharyee Marshall should be able step up for the Broncos, but with injuries in his history, it is hard to say how effective he will be long term. Sam McCaskill is a 6'3", 246-pound redshirt freshman who could also step up.
When you look up and down the Boise State roster, many of the starting spots have good players on the list. However, many of the backups are not proven, and injuries or suspensions could effect the Broncos in a big way as the season progresses.
Head coach Chris Petersen saw that same kind of trouble last season when some key players on defense went down with injuries. It hindered the things that his team wanted to do and arguably was a factor in the loss to San Diego State. Which, realistically, kept the Broncos out of the BCS.
You have to believe Coach Petersen is concerned about depth over anything else in 2013. Will he have a plan? Will backups step up when needed?
It should be a very interesting season for the Broncos.