1. At Michigan State, Aug. 31, 6 p.m., ESPN
For the fourth consecutive season, the Broncos open the season with a high-profile opponent. Boise State topped Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia in the previous three, but this is the first true road game and the first one without QB Kellen Moore. No. 13 Michigan State ranked sixth nationally in total defense in 2011 and returns eight starters on the unit, including star DE William Gholston.
2. BYU, Sept. 20, 7 p.m., ESPN
The Thursday night tilt will be a short turnaround for both teams. The Cougars are natural rivals, and the schools begin a 12-year series this season in Boise. The teams have played just twice, with Boise State winning in 2003 and 2004. Since Bronco Mendenhall took over in 2005, the Cougars are 66-24. QB Riley Nelson started for Utah State against Boise State in 2006. He will make his return to the blue as the Cougars signal-caller six years later.
3. At Nevada, Nov. 24, TBA, ESPN
The Wolf Pack have followed Boise State to the Mountain West, making the schools conference rivals once again. They also played in the Big Sky, Big West and WAC together. Nevada famously ended Boise States undefeated season and BCS chances in 2010. The Broncos make their first trip to Reno since that ill-fated day. Four of the past five games against Nevada have been decided in the final quarter. Last year, Boise State topped the Pack 30-10 in Bronco Stadium.
4. At Southern Miss, Oct. 6, TBA, FSN/FX
The Golden Eagles went 12-2 last year, ended Houstons BCS hopes in the Conference USA Championship Game and sent coach Larry Fedora to North Carolina. He has been replaced by former South Carolina defensive coordinator Ellis Johnson. Can he keep the Eagles high-powered offense (No. 14 in scoring) going without record-setting QB Austin Davis, while maintaining a solid defense (No. 26 in scoring) with just four returning starters?
5. At Hawaii, Nov. 10, 5 p.m., NBC Sports Network
The Warriors are undergoing some radical changes. Gone is the pass-happy offense that Hawaii has employed for so many years. Gone is the long hair. First-year coach Norm Chow is installing a pro-style offense and more discipline to a program that went 6-7 in 2011. Two of Chris Petersens six career losses are at Aloha Stadium, both in 2007 (Hawaii in the regular season and East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl).
6. At Wyoming, Oct. 27, 1:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Boise State is 6-0 all-time against Wyoming, all since 2002. But the Cowboys have given the Broncos trouble in that stretch, including 2006 (17-10) in Laramie. You never know how hard the wind will be blowing. And these Cowboys have some talent, including sophomore QB Brett Smith.
7. Fresno State, Oct. 13, 1:30 p.m., NBCSN
Another team that is undergoing an identity change, the Bulldogs have replaced Pat Hill with Tim DeRuyter and an uptempo offensive attack. Fresno State has the weapons to make it work. If this game were in Fresno, itd be higher on this list. But Boise State is 37-1 at home under Petersen.
8. San Diego State, Nov. 3, 8:30 p.m., NBCSN
Aztecs coach Rocky Long wont have to worry about the Broncos wearing all-blue uniforms on the blue turf. Long complained about the uniform-turf combination, earning the ire of Boise State fans. San Diego State has a new QB, Oregon State transfer Ryan Katz. He started for the Beavers at Bronco Stadium in 2010. San Diego State is 7-4 on the road in the past two seasons. The Aztecs were 10-40 in the previous eight.
9. Colorado State, Nov. 17, 1:30 p.m., NBCSN
Another new coach for the Broncos to tackle. FormerAlabama and Fresno State offensive coordinator Jim McElwain takes over a program that went 3-9 in 2011, including a 63-13 demolition at the hands of the Broncos. McElwain wont be able to turn it around this quickly.
10. Miami (Ohio), Sept. 15, 2 p.m., NBCSN
It seems like Boise State has been playing Mid-American Conference opponents forever. This will be the sixth game against a MAC foe since 2008 and the fourth at Bronco Stadium. Boise State is 5-0 in those games against Bowling Green, Toledo and Miami with an average score of 42.8-10.
11. UNLV, Oct. 20, 1:30 p.m., NBCSN
Coach Bobby Hauck enters his third season in Vegas and it might be time to produce some results. UNLV is 4-21 under Hauck. The Rebels have lost 13 straight to ranked opponents. It will be the first appearance on the blue turf for UNLV, which last played at Boise in 1977.
12. At New Mexico, Sept. 29, 4 p.m., TBA
Another first-year coach. Former Notre Dame coach Bob Davie comes out of the ESPN booth to take over one of the worst programs in America. He may wish he had stayed in TV.