Get to know Boise State's foes

The Broncos have several tough opponents in 2013.

ccripe@idahostatesman.comAugust 15, 2013 

Washington has multiple disciplinary and injury questions heading into its Aug. 31 meeting with Boise State. On a different note, there’s senior quarterback Keith Price. Will he be the standout who was seventh nationally in pass efficiency in 2011, or the average guy who tumbled to 80th last year?

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  • WHO (BESIDES BSU) CAN CRASH THE FINAL BCS PARTY?

    This is the last year of the Bowl Championship Series, so the old rules still apply to Boise State - with one less conference for competition. The BCS offers an automatic berth to the highest-ranked champion of the Mountain West, Conference USA, Mid-American or Sun Belt (the American Athletic/former Big East still gets an automatic bid this year) if that team is ranked in the top 12, or in the top 16 and ahead of a BCS-conference champion.

    Here are the top BCS-buster candidates besides Boise State:

    1. Fresno State (MW): The Bulldogs are loaded with veteran talent and set up with a manageable schedule that includes a home game against Rutgers and a trip to Colorado. The Bulldogs also could play Boise State twice - Sept. 20 in Fresno and in the Mountain West championship game.

    2. Tulsa (C-USA): The Golden Hurricane are the defending C-USA champs, and they'll get plenty of opportunity to prove themselves with games at Oklahoma and East Carolina and a home tilt with Iowa State.

    3. East Carolina (C-USA): The Pirates get Tulsa at home and have a softer schedule than their rival with home games against Old Dominion, Florida Atlantic and Virginia Tech and a road trip to North Carolina. Back-to-back ACC wins would generate some hype.

    4/5. Northern Illinois/Ohio (MAC): The division favorites in the MAC each return 16 starters and a star quarterback - Jordan Lynch for the Huskies; Tyler Tettleton for the Bobcats. The problem both will face is winning over voters who saw the Huskies get steamrolled by Florida State in the Orange Bowl. Ohio opens with a make-or-break game at Louisville.

    6. Arkansas State (Sun Belt): Coach Bryan Harsin inherited a two-time defending conference champion. The RedWolves were picked third in a tight race in the preseason poll - behind Louisiana-Lafayette and Louisiana-Monroe - and need to win at Auburn and Missouri to have a chance.

    — Chadd Cripe

— With 16 days until the season opener, we decided to search for news and notes out of the camps of Boise State's football opponents - with an emphasis on the marquee games. Here's what we found:

WASHINGTON (AUG. 31, SEATTLE)

The Huskies' offense will be shrouded in mystery at kickoff. They've switched to an Oregon-style no-huddle, but how fast will they go? Star tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins has added a broken pinkie to his offseason DUI arrest, providing two layers of doubt about whether, or how much, he'll play. Star wide receiver Kasen Williams also made the police blotter with a misdemeanor citation for being under 21 and operating a car after consuming alcohol - so there's at least a little doubt about his status, too, because coach Steve Sarkisian won't detail disciplinary measures.

AIR FORCE (SEPT. 13, BOISE)

The Falcons have a three-way race for the quarterback job, and only one of those players has game experience. Junior Kale Pearson (5-foot-9, 175 pounds) scored the game-winning touchdown last year at Wyoming. The other contenders are sophomores Karson Roberts and Jaleel Awini.

"It's wide open," offensive coordinator Blane Morgan told The Denver Post.

FRESNO STATE (SEPT. 20, FRESNO)

Quarterback Derek Carr, the Mountain West preseason offensive player of the year, didn't throw an interception until the 15th practice of fall camp, and that came on a miscommunication with his receiver in a 7-on-7 drill.

If there's a weakness for Carr, it's sacks. The Bulldogs tied for 78th nationally last year, allowing 29 sacks.

"He's getting better," offensive coordinator Dave Schramm told The Fresno Bee. "He's just got to manage his competitiveness."

SOUTHERN MISS (SEPT. 28, BOISE)

The Golden Eagles' implausible fall attracted the attention of USA Today, which published a feature on the program this week. Southern Miss was the first team to win 12 games in one season (2011) and lose 12 the next (2012).

The program posted 18 straight winning seasons before going 0-12.

New coach Todd Monken is the former offensive coordinator at Oklahoma State.

"We're not lacking talent," Monken told USA Today. "We're just lacking experience and knowledge of the system. We've got good enough players. … We're gonna have guys that can run, we're gonna have guys that can hit you, we're gonna have guys that like to play the game."

UTAH STATE (OCT. 12, LOGAN)

The Aggies are loaded on defense with five All-WAC honorees (two first-teamers) in their front seven, but they must develop a new set of offensive playmakers and adjust to first-year coach Matt Wells. The team lost its top five receiving targets, including tailback Kerwynn Williams. However, quarterback Chuckie Keeton is back.

NEVADA (OCT. 19, BOISE)

Discipline issues have hit the Wolf Pack hard. They have dismissed an offensive lineman and a running back and suspended indefinitely a projected starting safety - Charles Garrett, who started at cornerback last year - and a wide receiver.

New coach Brian Polian has retained the pistol offense and its coordinator, Nick Rolovich.

BYU (OCT. 25, PROVO)

The Cougars have gone from inexperienced to shorthanded at cornerback, where they have lost two junior college recruits and returning starter Jordan Johnson (torn ACL) to injuries. That leaves a junior college transfer and a true freshman as the projected starters and forced coaches to move slot receiver Eric Thornton, who was expected to contribute on offense, to cornerback.

WYOMING (NOV. 16, BOISE)

The Cowboys threw 64 passes in their first scrimmage, completing 47 for 632 yards and eight touchdowns. The pass game should be a strength with the return of junior quarterback Brett Smith, but the defense clearly is a question mark.

Chadd Cripe: 377-6398, Twitter: @IDS_BroncoBeat

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