Will Boise State Make A New Year’s Six Bowl Game in 2018?
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Boise State has long been recognized as one of, if not the top mid-major in college football. Even though they were not the first to do so, they often receive credit as the original BCS Buster. When the BCS was done away with in 2014 and the new playoff system came to be, the Broncos were right back in the mix at the top beating Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl. Four years later head coach Bryan Harsin returns his most experienced and possibly talented team since that Fiesta Bowl victory. The hype is real, but the question is will Boise State make it back to a New Year’s Six Bowl Game?
The Broncos return nearly 80% of their starters from 2017 (17 of 22), but the starters that departed for the NFL and graduation are significant. First-round pick Leighton Vander Esch leaves a giant 141 tackle hole to fill on defense, while sixth-round pick Cedric Wilson and Jake Roh combined for 1,921 receiving yards and 18 total touchdowns. Boise State only had 3,677 passing yards on the season. How will the Broncos make up for losing their captain and leading tackler on defense, along with over 50 percent of their receiving yards?
Here’s the good news, the Broncos return a four-year starter at quarterback in Brett Rypien, along with six other 2017 All-Mountain West selections. That fact combined with the extremely young and experienced talent returning on both sides of the ball would be reason enough to be optimistic, but add in the fact that Boise State’s 2018 recruiting class may have been their best ever for skill position recruiting, and you might just have something special brewing.
The offense line was very young for the Broncos in 2017, and it showed in both run game production and with some of the brutal hits that led to Rypien missing nearly two games for an injury. After starting the season 2-2, the Boise State offensive line utilized a bye week to regroup and find some cohesion.
During the stretch the Broncos went 2-2, they averaged 352 yards per game on offense. After the bye week, that number jumped to 428 yards per game against arguably stronger competition. The majority of that upwardly trending offensive line returns for 2018.
According to 24/7 Sports, Boise State’s 2018 recruiting class was once again the top in the Mountain West. It was also better than a number of Power 5 schools such as Arizona, Virginia, and Texas Tech.
Moreover, this recruiting class brought with it a much-needed boost for the skills positions. True Freshman that highlight this include four-star wide receiver Khalil Shakir, four-star running back Andrew VanBuren, high three-star tight end Tyneil Hopper, and high three-star wide receiver Stefan Cobbs.
Due to 2017 key departures, these four were more than likely already slated to play in 2018, but with the addition of the new rule allowing true freshman to play in up to 4 games and still affording them the ability to redshirt, we will see these four and more for the Broncos in 2018. This will help take some of the pressure off of Brett Rypien’s shoulders, providing him with a plethora of new targets to distribute the ball to. Many of these freshmen are already showing solid promise in fall camp.
The Bottom Line
Coach Harsin returns nearly all of his staff, with continued cohesion with returning offensive and defensive coordinators, which has been a rarity in the years since he returned to Boise. Quarterback Brett Rypien has been upfront in sharing his desire to cement his legacy with previous Bronco greats by winning a New Year’s Six bowl game.
Players and coaches have been quick to say that the Broncos have done nothing in 2018 to earn the hype, but they recognize the potential for greatness. Will Boise State make it to their fourth overall big money bowl game in 2018? Only time will tell, but the odds do certainly seem to be in their favor.