Boise State Football

The hype train has left the station: Boise State seen as likely top 20 team to start 2018

Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien (4) looks for a receiver downfield against Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on Dec. 16, 2017. Rypien will be a senior in 2018 and twice has been first-team All-Mountain West and second-team once.
Boise State quarterback Brett Rypien (4) looks for a receiver downfield against Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl at Sam Boyd Stadium in Las Vegas, Nevada on Dec. 16, 2017. Rypien will be a senior in 2018 and twice has been first-team All-Mountain West and second-team once. jjaszewski@idahostatesman.com

It is always more intriguing to look ahead than to look back in college football. That’s why within hours of the final game of the season Monday, national outlets began putting out their way-too-early Top 25s.

And if they are any indication, Boise State will be getting plenty of attention as the 2018 season approaches.

ESPN’s Mark Schlabach ranks the Broncos at No. 17, saying, “With quarterback Brett Rypien and all but one defensive starter coming back in 2018, the Broncos should be the preseason favorites among Group of Five teams to grab a New Year’s Six bowl berth.”

Athlon Sports has Boise State at No. 19, again calling the Broncos the Group of Five preseason favorite. Ralph Russo of The Associated Press said the Broncos have maybe the best quarterback in the Mountain West in Rypien, who will be a senior, and “should start no worse than 20th” in 2018. The Athletic picks Boise State 18th, second among Group of Five teams (UCF is 10th). USA Today projects the Broncos 14th, tops in the Group of Five.

It isn’t a surprise to see the preseason love for the Broncos, considering how impressive the defense was and that it returns 10 starters (though the one it loses, linebacker Leighton Vander Esch, is major). On offense, Rypien will return with 1,000-yard rusher Alexander Mattison and four offensive linemen who made multiple starts. However, seniors were responsible for 30 of the offense’s 51 touchdowns, so new weapons must be found.

The Broncos lost one assistant in defensive line coach Steve Caldwell, but the rest of the staff is slated to return. It is the first time since 2013 that the offensive, defensive and special teams coordinators all will be back.

Boise State (11-3) finished at No. 22 in both the AP Top 25 and USA Today Coaches’ polls, released Tuesday morning. The Broncos finished ranked in the AP poll for the 11th time in the past 16 seasons. They have been in the preseason AP Top 25 eight times since 2005.

2018 top returners: QB Brett Rypien, Sr.: 218-of-348 passing for 2,877 yards, 16 TDs, 6 INTs; RB Alexander Mattison, Jr.: 212 carries for 1,086 yards, 12 TDs; WR A.J. Richardson, Sr.: 33 receptions for 494 yards, 2 TDs; STUD Curtis Weaver, So.: 11 sacks, INT, fumble return TD; S Kekoa Nawahine, Jr.: 108 tackles, 3 INTs.

2018 schedule: Nonconference: at Troy (Sept. 1), vs. UConn (Sept. 8), at Oklahoma State (Sept. 15), vs. BYU (Nov. 3). Mountain West home: Fresno State, San Diego State, Colorado State, Utah State. Mountain West road: Nevada, Air Force, Wyoming, New Mexico.

COZART IN ALL-STAR GAME

Boise State quarterback Montell Cozart, who spent one season with the Broncos as a graduate transfer from Kansas, will play in the SPIRAL Tropical Bowl in Daytona, Fla., on Sunday.

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Here are the final polls, released Tuesday morning:

AP TOP 25

1. Alabama (57 first-place votes)

2. Georgia

3. Oklahoma

4. Clemson

5. Ohio State

6. UCF (4)

7. Wisconsin

8. Penn State

9. TCU

10. Auburn

11. Notre Dame

12. USC

13. Miami (Fla.)

14. Oklahoma State

15. Michigan State

16. Washington

17. Northwestern

18. LSU

19. Mississippi State

20. Stanford

21. South Florida

22. Boise State

23. North Carolina State

24. Virginia Tech

25. Memphis

USA TODAY COACHES

1. Alabama (62 first-place votes)

2. Georgia

3. Oklahoma

4. Clemson

5. Ohio State

6. Wisconsin

7. UCF

8. Penn State

9. TCU

10. USC

11. Notre Dame

12. Auburn

13. Miami (Fla.)

14. Oklahoma State

15. Washington

16. Michigan State

17. Northwestern

18. LSU

19. Stanford

20. Mississippi State

21. South Florida

22. Boise State

23. North Carolina State

24. Memphis

25. Virginia Tech

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