2011 record: 12-1 overall, 6-1 in MWC (2nd)
2011 postseason: MAACO Bowl Las Vegas (56-24 win over Arizona State)
2011 final AP/coaches’ ranking: No. 8/No. 6
Head coach: Chris Petersen (73-6 in six seasons at Boise State)
Offensive coordinator: Robert Prince (fourth season at Boise State, first as OC)
2011 offensive rankings: 40th rushing offense (171.9 ypg); 11th passing offense (309.4 ypg); 9th total offense (481.3 ypg); 5th scoring offense (44.2 ppg)
Returning offensive starters: three
Defensive coordinator: Pete Kwiatkowski (seventh season at Boise State, third as DC)
2011 defensive rankings: 17th rushing defense (110 ypg); 43rd passing defense (210.8 ypg); 16th total defense (320.8 ypg); 12th scoring defense (18.7 ppg)
Returning defensive starters: two
Location: Boise, Idaho
Stadium: Bronco Stadium (37,000; FieldTurf)
Last league title: 2010 (WAC co-champs with Hawaii and Nevada)
2011 statistics: [view]
With TCU’s departure for the Big 12, the Broncos are the undisputed kings of the Mountain West ahead of its 2013 move to the Big East. Additionally, the program was able to stave off yet another offseason of multiple attempts by other schools to pry Petersen out of Boise. And those are indeed good things, because …
The Broncos return five starters total — three on offense, two on defense. Included in those 17 lost starters are the greatest quarterback in the school’s storied history (Kellen Moore); its leading rusher (Doug Martin); leading receiver in yards and touchdowns (Tyler Shoemaker) along with another starter at the position; three starting offensive linemen; the top four tacklers from 2012; and the entire starting defensive line. To say the Broncos will be a bit wet behind the ears this season would serve as a massive understatement.
Just how the Broncos will replace the on-field production and, perhaps more importantly, the off-field leadership Moore brought to the table will likely be the most significant factor in determining if Boise State can win 10-plus games for the seventh consecutive season under Petersen. Joe Southwick is expected to emerge from the four-man competition and grab hold of the unenviable task of stepping into Moore’s immense shoes. Certainly having some experience returning at receiver and along the line and will help ease the transition for Southwick — or whomever earns the starting job. Unfortunately for the Broncos, there will be a very steep learning curve for the signal caller.
Make-or-break game: at Michigan State, Aug. 31
Yep, with all of the greenness at nearly every position, Boise will open the season against hands-down the most talented team they will see all year long during the regular season– and on the road, no less. The rest of the non-conference schedule (Miami of Ohio, BYU and Southern Miss) will be manageable, while the conference slate is a multi-layered cupcake. The game against the Spartans, however, will show whether the Broncos are ready to maintain its presence on the national stage — or if they’ll take a one-year hiatus as they gain some much-needed experience.
Heisman hopeful: None
With Moore and Martin out of the picture, there’s no one on the Broncos’ roster, at least at this point in time, who would merit even a leaping, stretching inclusion.