The first month of college football is in the books and we know this about the Boise State Broncos; Boise State’s heyday is behind it. Just a couple of years ago you never would have expected the Broncos to be dominated on the road in conference play and lose a neutral site game against a power conference opponent.
Boise State opened the season with a loss to Ole Miss in Atlanta. The Rebels played a rough game on that Thursday night, the kind Boise State used to take advantage of. The Broncos scored a nice conference victory with a win over Colorado State, but last night the Broncos were grounded by Air Force, 28-14. The game was not as close as that score would suggest. Boise State turned the football over seven times, including four interceptions thrown by Grant Hedrick. That has opened the door for head coach Bryan Harsin‘s first quarterback controversy. The problem for the first-year Boise State coach is there is no Kellen Moore to be found on the roster.
Ryan Finley replaced Hedrick in the game and led the offense to two touchdowns in the fourth quarter. Harsin will now face questions and pressure regarding the quarterback situation heading into Boise State’s next game, next week on the road against Nevada. Next week’s contest with Nevada is a difficult one and Boise State still has to play Fresno State and Utah State (and BYU in non-conference play).
If nothing else, we are witnessing just how special Boise State’s run as a BCS Cinderella was under head coach Chris Petersen. What the Broncos managed to do in those seasons is difficult to do, and is not common. The pieces fell together for the Broncos under the BCS format. The new College Football Playoff is one that leaves a door open just a bit wider for a program like Boise State to play in a big bowl game. Right now East Carolina appears to be first in line for that prized invitation.
Boise State does not have that far to go to get back to that lofty status among its Group of Five peers, but the Broncos need to find a quarterback that can be trusted with the offense. They have a running back that fits just fine with Jay Ajayi and the defense is good enough, but the Broncos need to improve at quarterback. Under the structure in place, a quarterback can make a huge difference for Boise State. Finding one may be tougher than it used to be though, because Boise State is not in a power conference, which means they do not benefit from the perks that come with autonomy. The overall impact this has on Boise State and other Group of Five schools remains to be seen, but there are plenty of quarterbacks out there.
Boise State’s uphill battle is based on recruiting. Petersen was able to recruit. We will have to see if Harsin can do the same as head coach. But recruiting trends are stacked against Boise State. When playing in California or Texas or anywhere south is a viable option for a player, how many will choose to play in Idaho? It is not a new problem for Boise State, but the sales pitch is easier to sell when Boise State has established itself as a team capable and worthy of being on the same field as power conference opponents. So ultimately it all comes down to winning games.
Boise State has lost its edge as a non-power conference program. Has it been lost for good?