2017 Boise State Broncos College Football Preview

Boise State

Head Coach: Bryan Harsin
2016 Record: 10-3 (6-2 Mountain West)

Over 8 wins (-140); Under 8 wins (+116)
Odds to win 2017 Title: +60000

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The Boise State Broncos finished 10-3 last season, and though the team loses a number of key performers from last season’s team, it should be on track to dominate the Mountain West once again. Its top rusher, three wide receivers and three starting linemen all exit the program, but quarterback Brett Rypien returns after earning first-team All Mountain West honors last year, and he should be even better in 2017. Rypien threw for 6,999 yards over the last two seasons, and though he loses a number of receivers, Boise State should have adequate talent to keep Rypien relevant and good.

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Jeremy McNichols left for the NFL, as Boise State’s talented back, but sophomore Alexander Mattison will step in to replace him. Mattison rushed for 328 yards last season and four TDs as a true freshman. Boise State has kept strong running backs coming through the program, and its wide receiver core should be similarly replaced.

At WR, the Broncos will look to senior Cedrick Wilson who caught 1,129 yards and 11 TDs last season in his debut season. Beyond Wilson, there is not a lot of experience, but he is a solid No. 1 option and the Broncos will also have Sean Medster and returning starter AJ Richardson to help him. The OL also returns two seniors and has good depth, though it is young.

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Defensively, Boise State held teams to 23.3 points per game last year, ranking No. 29 in the NCAA, but it also created just nine turnovers, which was the fewest in program history. The Broncos will look to get more aggressive defensively and hope to create more turnovers. Junior DT David Moa will lead the line, and he had 8.5 sacks last season at nose tackle. Moving him off the center spot should enable him to be more of a disruptor this season.

Jabril Frazier also will be a force in disrupting quarterbacks from the edge. LB Leighton Vander Esch is coming off some injuries, but hopes are high that he can be another disruptive force if he can stay healthy. Joe Matarano left the team in March to play baseball, and his loss will hurt some. The DL’s top there players in the spring all had never seen action in college games. Inexperience, thus, will be an issue.

At defensive back, the Broncos should be plenty deep. Also, junior CB Tyler Horton is good for coverage and safeties Kekoa Nawshine and DeAndre Pierce both are intelligent players who played their roles last season as a freshman.

Continued maturation should make both only better, and Boise State did boast the Nation’s No. 15 pass defense last year, allowing just 298.3 yards per game from its opponents. Overall, the defense was good, and it should be better as the team turns its focus to creating more turnovers and putting more pressure on opposing quarterbacks.

The Broncos lost its past two games last season, a 20-27 loss to Air Force and a 12-31 stomping by Baylor at the Citrus Bowl. The team is just 4-5 in its past nine games against Mountain West opponents, which should serve a wake up call to a team that typically dominates in Conference play. The real story of the season should be the defense, keeping an eye on the changes it implements to go from being just “Good” to simply “Great” by creating turnovers and putting pressure on QBs.

On offense, just Rypien’s return should be enough to keep the ball moving downfield, and having the No. 1 receiver return will nearly be enough in and of itself to make Rypien effective. It will be interesting to see which secondary and tertiary options emerge, as well as how much the team can get from its top backfield performer Mattison. Overall, this is a team that will dominate Conference play and strive towards double-digit wins, even if NCAA football oddsmakers set the over/under for wins at just eight. Expect Boise State to beat that, and the ‘over’ at -140 is a pretty attractive value still.

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