The Boise State Broncos (6-3, 4-1 MWC) are in the midst of the type of season the team hasn't experienced in quite some time.
In fact, the last time Boise State lost three regular-season games was in 2005 under then head coach Dan Hawkins. That team also went on to lose in the MPC Computers Bowl against Boston College for an overall record of 9-4.
Head coach Chris Petersen took over in 2006 for Hawkins, and his team proceeded to go undefeated in the regular season. They would then go on to beat Oklahoma in the famous Fiesta Bowl overtime thriller and finished a perfect 13-0.
In 2007 the Broncos lost two regular-season games, but finished with three total losses on the season after suffering defeat in the Hawaii Bowl against East Carolina. It was, until this year, Chris Petersen's worst record as a head coach.
Which brings us to 2013. It is hard to believe that it has been six years since Boise State had three losses and eight seasons since three losses occurred in the regular season.
Many teams would love to have that kind of history, but that is no consolation for Boise State fans, players or coaches. It is the refusal to accept such standards that has led the program to become recognized as a perennial power in college football.
With just three games left on the 2013 schedule, there are still some questions to be answered for Boise State, but there are also some very important things to play for.
With injuries mounting and more and more young players in the mix, the Broncos have been on a roller coaster ride most of the season.
It is a ride that could finish with a smile, or the type of journey best left in the rear view mirror of experience. It is really up to them.
In the worst-case scenario the Broncos would have to lose one or more of their last three regular-season games. If that were to happen they would most likely be out of contention for a Mountain West Conference title game appearance, and it would be the worst record for Petersen in his eight seasons at the helm.
The final three games are home against Wyoming, at San Diego State and home against New Mexico. All of those games are winnable, but all pose a threat to a Boise State team dealing with youth and injuries.
If the Broncos lose two of their final three, the MWC title game is certainly gone, and they would back into a lower-level bowl game.
Wyoming at home is a game Petersen and his team should win. The crowd should help, and the team hasn't lost at home all season.
Which Game Poses the Biggest Challenge for Boise State?
At San Diego State is a real challenge for the Broncos. They have a defense that matches up well against the Broncos, and they are a team that seems to play to the level of competition. After all, they did take Fresno State to overtime recently. However, if you watched the game, San Diego State was a blocked field goal away from the upset in regulation.
New Mexico is another home game for Boise State, but the triple-option can be tricky. Still, option or not, Boise State should handle the Lobos in Boise.
Of the three final games, the San Diego State game seems to be the biggest hill to climb. To insure a spot in the MWC title game, the Broncos must win all three. If they don't, it could be an even more disappointing season for Bronco Nation.
In the best-case scenario, the Broncos win out. If they do that, they will most likely face Fresno State in a rematch from earlier this season for the MWC title.
What Will be the Broncos Final 2013 Record?
It will be the first time the Mountain West has held a title game, and the national stage would be an incredible atmosphere.
The game would be in Fresno, should the Bulldogs win out, but you can bet a large contingent of Boise State fans would make the trek to the Central Valley for this one. It would no doubt be a bowl game kind of atmosphere, and it could garner even more attention if Fresno is in contention for a BCS bowl game.
The Broncos could then play the role of spoiler and finish the season 10-3 and most likely ranked in the Top 25.
They would then make their way to the Las Vegas Bowl to play a Pac-12 school, and as long as we are on best-case scenarios, if they win that game they would finish 11-3 overall.
If the Broncos finish 11-3 with the young team they currently have, they will certainly be in a great position going into the 2014 season.