2015 Boise State Football Predictions: 1st Mountain West – Mountain Division (2014 record: 12-2)
Head Coach: Bryan Harsin
Mountain West Champion Odds: -260
National Championship Odds: +25,500
Season Win Totals Over-Under Odds: Over 9.5 (-150), Under 9.5 (+110)
Without knocking other teams in the Mountain West, it just seems the Broncos talents are always left untested is a weaker conference. In his first season as head coach, Bryan Harsin led the Broncos to their requisite strong season. There just might be something mystical about playing on that blue carpets. The only thing that can be said about the offensive unit in 2014 is that they played to expected levels by scoring and average of just over 39 PPG while compiling 494.3 YPG of total offense using a balanced attack. It would seem Harsin stepped in and said why fix something that isn’t broken.
It’s a good bet that Harsin’s second season is going to be a bit more difficult after losing both All-American RB Jay Ajayi (1,823 yards and 28 TDs on the ground) and a solid QB in Grant Hedrick who had 3,696 yards passing and 23 TDs passes to go along with 592 yards rushing and 8 rushing TDs. Even though the team’s top two receivers (SR Shane Williams-Rhodes – 585 yards and 7 TDs, JR Thomas Sperbeck – 877 yards and 3 TDs) are back in the fold, they rest of the team is going to have to be crafted by Coach Harsin. The main advantage he had is almost every blue-chip player on the west coast wants to come play at Boise State. With that said, there is a strong chance the Broncos have plenty of star power in reserve.
After such a fun 2014 season, Coach Harsin is left to start putting his fingerprints on this most excellent football program. There are a lot of questions to be answered on offense, but there is reason for fans and boosters to sound the alarms. After all, these are the Boise State Broncos.
In 2014, the defense played on par with the defenses of the past. The only allowed 26.8 PPG and 375.4 YPG of total offense. The intangible thing this defense did that helped the offense so much was causing turnovers. They killed drive after drive with 31 turnovers, which left the offense with plenty of short fields with which to work.
The fact Coach Harsin is getting the team’s three best defensive players back for another season should ease some of the pain caused by loses on offense. These are players who made big contributions in 2014 and stand to improve with another season under their belts. The first of the returnees is JR LB Tanner Vallejo who led the team in tackles with 100 along with 3 sacks and 1 interception. He will be joined by SR safety Darian Thompson who added 71 tackles and a team-high 7 interceptions. While those two players figure to patrol the secondary, the front line is going to be anchored by the very talented and undersized JR DL Kamalei Correa who had 59 tackles and 12 sacks.
This defensive unit should keep getting better as the season progresses. Fans will need to keep an eye on the offense to see who emerges as the team’s next big stars. For now, a strong defense is a good place to start for a second year coach who has yet to prove himself. Playing the Mountain West almost assures the Broncos will be in the post season. The offense will determine exactly where.
Don’t laugh, but Boise State has an excellent chance at going 13-0 and making the college football playoffs this year. Their toughest games of the year are the first two games, home against Washington and at BYU. If they win those two, who will they lose to? I guess they could be tested at Utah State, but this team has so much talent it will be difficult to see them not going 12-0 if they win their first two games.