Boise State Looks To Reclaim Mountain West Throne In ‘17

Boise State player running to field

Monday, May 29, 2017 7:59 PM GMT

Can Boise State regain some of its former glory and make it to the College Football Playoffs? The futures odds are long, and the Broncos will face tough challenges in the MWC.

There’s no question that PJ Fleck and the Western Michigan Broncos had one heckuva season in 2016. They reeled off 13 consecutive wins that culminated with their first outright MAC title since 1988 and included their first appearance in the two conventional polls along the way. Still, it wasn’t good enough to crack the College Football Playoffs, something that will remain a difficult task for any school outside the Power 5 again in 2017…and beyond.

If it is to happen this season, and that first Group of 5 teams is going to come out of the Mountain West Conference, Boise State is the team most likely to reach the collegiate gridiron’s version of the Final Four according to the NCAA football futures odds.

The Broncos have knocked on the door before, making to the BCS Bowls twice under Chris Petersen and, like Western Michigan last year, getting a New Year’s Six bowl invite in 2014 in Bryan Harsin’s first year at Boise State’s helm. Harsin and the Broncs would not only make history by simply reaching the playoffs this year, they’d make a lot of money for anyone following them with a 100/1 wager at BetOnline if they were to win it all.

 

Upset Road Losses Cost BSU Dearly In ‘16

Boise State would no doubt love to win it all, but the initial focus has to be on winning the MWC, something it hasn’t been able to accomplish since Harsin led them to the Fiesta Bowl in 2014. They were close to matching their Bronco counterparts at Western Michigan last year, but a couple of road losses kept them from a perfect record and Mountain West Conference title game appearance.

The setbacks came in Weeks 9 and 13 at Wyoming and Air Force, respectively, by a combined nine points, each time the Broncos favored on NCAA football odds boards. They will have quarterback Brett Rypien back to lead what was a dynamic offense a year ago, but Harsin and his staff are going to have to work in relatively untested running backs.

Taking BSU’s place as the team to beat in the MWC the past two seasons, San Diego State should field another strong team in 2017. The Aztecs will once again feature the running game under head coach Rocky Long, though without Donnel Pumphrey and his nation-best 2,133 yards. Replacing Pumphrey won’t be the biggest question, though, with SDSU losing four offensive linemen and also having several holes to fill up front on a defensive unit that finished 11th nationally allowing just over 315 YPG.

 

The first of potentially two meetings between the Aztecs and Broncos takes place in San Diego on October 14. It’s their first collision since 2014 when Boise pulled off a 38-29 decision on the blue turf as a two-touchdown favorite.

 Can Rams Upset BSU & SDSU Plans?

Colorado State is the team that has been coming up in offseason conversations as having the best shot to knock down the Broncos and Aztecs. Mike Bobo, who just 20 years ago was passing his way into Georgia record books, has a big chunk of his offense back, including QB Nick Stevens and top receiver Michael Gallup (76 rec, 1271 yds, 14 TD), a group that averaged 35+ points and over 460 yards per game.

The Rams came close to pulling off the upset at Boise State last year, falling 28-23 as 28-point underdogs, and walloped the Aztecs 63-31 in San Diego to close the regular season on a 4-1 run and earn a bowl trip. Colorado State does not have the Aztecs on the slate this time, and hosts Boise State on November 11 in a game sure to be included in SBR’s free college football picks.