2012 Record: 11-2 (7-1 in MWC)
Head Coach: Chris Petersen (84-8 at Boise State, 51-4 in MWC)
Four Year Trend: 12.25 wins and 1 loss
Last Bowl Game: 2012 Maaco Las Vegas Bowl: beat Washington 28-26
Stadium: Bronco Stadium in Boise, ID (capacity = 33,500)
Home Field Advantage: ranked 4th out of 55 mid-major teams
Stat to Fear: scored TDs on 57.38% of red zone trips (8th in MWC)
Stats to Cheer: +1.54 turnover margin (1st in MWC), allowed only 9 sacks in 2012
Advanced Stats (Football Outsiders 2012 FEI Ranking): 32nd out of 124 teams
Phil Steele's Returning Starters: Offense: 5, Defense: 4, Special Teams: 1
Key Defensive Returnees: S Jeremy Ioane (70 tackles, 3 INT), DE Demarcus Lawrence (48 tackles, 8.5 sacks), LB Blake Renaud (46 tackles), DB Corey Bell (45 tackles), S Darian Thompson (43 tackles, 3 INT)
Key Offensive Returnees: QB Joe Southwick (2730 yds pass, 66.7% completions, 19 TD, 7 INT), RB Jay Ajayi (548 yds rush, 6.68 ypc, 4 TD), WR Matt Miller (66 rec, 5 TD), WR Kirby Moore (36 rec)
Heading into the 2012 season, Boise State had lost a ton of talent (they returned just five starters on offense and two on defense). Despite all of those losses, the Broncos still went 11-2.
QB Joe Southwick returns for his senior season with one year as a starter under his belt. Southwick improved down the stretch last year and should only get better this year now that he has some experience. Rising sophomore Jay Ajayi steps into the spotlight at RB and if 2012 is any indication, he should do just fine. Receiver is a strength with Matt Miller and Kirby Moore returning and behind them there is a lot of talent like Geraldo Boldewijn, Aaron Burks and Shane Williams-Rhodes. The OL returns just 52 starts so if you are looking for a weakness on offense this could be it.
With all of the talent that the defense lost last season (9 of their top 10 tacklers) they actually decreased their ppg allowed from 18.7 to 15.8. That's a pretty remarkable accomplishment and once again this team must replace some key cogs. This team loses three of their top four tacklers but do return six of the top ten including five that were underclassmen last season. The DL takes a hit as they lose four contributors from last year but they do return their best player (Demarcus Lawrence). Boise runs a 4-2-5 and will need to replace both of their starting LBs including leading tackler J.C. Percy. The defensive backfield returns three of their top four players but must replace Jamar Taylor. Each part of the Boise defense will be replacing key contributors for the second straight season. It's a concern but with the history that Chris Petersen has built I think he will have some guys step up and perform for him.
With the rise of Fresno State and the addition of Utah State (and both of those games being on the road) this schedule is a bit tougher than last year. That being said, the schedule is spread out very nicely as Boise will not have tough back-to-back games this season unless Southern Miss under Todd Monken just goes bananas. There is a chance Boise could go undefeated but the big thing that will cause them some heartburn is that all of their tough games are on the road. Their road schedule consists of Washington, Fresno State, Utah State, BYU and San Diego State. All of those teams have the potential to be Top 25 teams. I like the new additions to the MWC and I believe the conference will be more competitive this season and it will be interesting to see how the Championship Game plays out. Look for Boise to be in that inaugural MWC Championship Game but they will be in for a fight.
Previous 2013 Pre-Season Previews: