Boise State Football: Biggest Hurdles on Broncos' 2013 Schedule
Boise State isn't generating nearly as much hype leading up to the new season as the team has in past years. For a program that hasn't lost more than two games in a season since 2007, perhaps the lack of early attention will actually be a positive for once.
The Broncos debuted in the AP poll at No. 19.
While they would prefer to sit a little closer to the Top 10 at the outset, a favorable schedule means there's a strong chance they could start climbing the rankings and making noise pretty quickly.
Boise must be ready right off the bat, though. One of the toughest matchups on their schedule is the opener at Washington.
Knowing that, let's take a closer look at that game and two other key hurdles on the Broncos' schedule.
Aug. 31 at Washington
Playing one of the season's biggest games right away is a tough task, especially for a team like Boise, which can't afford even a small slip-up.
It's extremely difficult, if not impossible, to come out in top form and a loss would be a season-long talking point for the Broncos' detractors. On the flip side, an immediate marquee victory would get the team right back in the forefront of everybody's mind as it attempts to move up the rankings.
The biggest key to getting off on the right foot is slowing down Washington's senior quarterback Keith Price.
After a terrific sophomore campaign, Price took a step back last season. He's going to be a man on a mission as a senior, looking to prove 2012 was an aberration. He will provide an immediate test for the Boise State defense, which could make a big statement with a strong showing.
Which game will be the toughest test for Boise State?
Sept. 20 at Fresno State
Another road game, Fresno State will be looking for some payback after a road loss against Boise last season. The Bulldogs feature a well-rounded offense, highlighted by receiver Davante Adams, that will be another tough test for the Boise defense.
It's also a game during which Broncos quarterback Joe Southwick will need to step up. He showed flashes last season, but lacked the necessary consistency to really take his game to another level.
The team needs him to take that next step.
Since both of these teams should be able to rack up plenty of points, this game could easily turn into a shootout with plenty of possessions. In those type of games, where every drive is key, Southwick can become a star.
Oct. 25 at BYU
If the Broncos can survive those first two tests, it wouldn't be a surprise to see them arrive at BYU as an unbeaten Top 10 team. That's when the pressure would really begin to mount, as the BCS talk would take center stage yet again.
Last season, Boise survived a serious challenge from the Cougars. They completely shut down the Boise offense and came within a two-point conversion of pulling off the upset.
Like Fresno, BYU will be out to finish the job this time around.
The good news for the Broncos is that, if they survive the third major road test, the schedule gets easier during the final month. As the major-conference teams start knocking each other down, the door will be open for Boise State to rise if it can take care of its own business.
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