The signs were there late last season, throughout the offseason and even during the 2-1 start to this season.
But now we know for sure, after Virginia whipped Boise State 42-23 on Friday night at Albertsons Stadium.
The Broncos are an average, .500-type football team — and that isn’t likely to change anytime soon.
The Broncos are 2-2 this season, 2-4 in their past six games and — most damning — 5-5 in their past 10. That’s almost an entire season of mediocre football.
And the forecast is ominous.
After a much-needed bye, the Broncos play Oct. 6 at BYU — a place they have struggled mightily in their past two visits. Then they play Oct. 14 at San Diego State, the Mountain West favorite that just beat two Pac-12 teams.
[More coverage: A ‘demoralizing’ loss; How long has it been since the Broncos lost this badly at home?; Virginia’s Bronco Mendenhall uses a rare word to spark Cavs; scoring summary and other live coverage]
A 2-4 record at the midpoint seems more than just possible.
And for the first time since 2001, it appears Boise State will go an entire season without appearing in the Top 25 polls.
A complete inability to run the ball, short of putting backup quarterback Montell Cozart in the game (a move that considerably downsizes the passing attack), is sinking the offense.
That has resulted in an over-reliance on a young defense that finally broke Friday night. For three games, that defense carried the Broncos. On Friday, the group had few answers for a Virginia offense that looked eerily like Boise State’s old offense. Shifts, motions, balance, execution and — most of all — touchdowns.
The Broncos have only scored 13 offensive touchdowns in four games. That’s stunning for a program that takes pride in being the nation’s highest-scoring team since 2000.
Friday’s loss likely will increase the pressure on coach Bryan Harsin, whose 33-11 record is a significant dropoff from what Boise State accomplished from 1999 to 2013 under Dirk Koetter, Dan Hawkins and Chris Petersen.
It will be a long two weeks for the Broncos until they get on the field again. And by the time they take the Blue again Oct. 21 against Wyoming — almost a month from now — this season could be on the brink of disaster.
William Taylor: Boise has a lot to work on. It seems like they took the night off. Can’t do that if we are going to make a bowl game this season.
Robert Schecter: Fire Harsin tonight.
Scott Wessel: Undisciplined, lack of motivation, lack of creativity. Boise State in the Petersen era played with a chip on their shoulder, they always had something to prove. They always had to disprove the naysayers. They need that mentality back. Our talent level is no different than the past, but our work ethic and mentality have changed. Hard work beats talent more often than not. Go out not to just win, but prove “we can run with anyone.”
Jared McBride: Virginia just out played us simple as that.
Jane Leamy: The team lacks the heart it needs to win. No matter the score, when you show heart, anything is possible. Remember when the coaches and community were there to support that heart.
Bradley Thornton: Rebuilding year, hope for the best!!
David Parsons: I can’t believe anyone would stick by Harsin after this. It all went south after the terrible fake punt call. To lose at home to a two-TD underdog — the same program you beat by 40+ on the road 2 seasons ago — is disgraceful. Just numb at this point. At a loss for words.
Gary Greenough: With the NFL on the back burner, college ball was going to be fun. Not tonight. The days of Peterson and Moore are long gone. BSU has a LONG way to play with the big boys now.
Crescencio Castillo: Rypien has been out and was not in synch with receivers. Cozart should have come in to play soon as it looked like Rypien was forcing his throws, and the running game was not working.
Mark Griffin: When Rypien first played I was thinking, “Wow, this kid is accurate and has great touch on the ball too. He is only going to get better.” Boy, was I wrong. He overthrows constantly and panics when under pressure. Getting worse, not better.