Game details: Sept. 4 (Friday), 8:15 p.m., ESPN
Coach: Chris Petersen (8-6 in one year at Washington; 100-18 in nine years overall)
Last year: 8-6 overall, 4-5 Pac-12 (third in North); lost to Oklahoma State in the Cactus Bowl
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Returning starters (offense/defense/specialists):6/4/2
Player to watch: Junior tailback Dwayne Washington (6-foot-2, 221 pounds) could be the key to the Huskies’ offense this season. He averaged 7.4 yards per carry with six touchdowns in four November games last season and ran the 40-yard dash in less than 4.5 seconds in winter testing.
Summer vibe: The Huskies, like the Broncos, have a major question mark at quarterback. Unlike the Broncos, they’ll be inexperienced in the offensive and defensive lines – a trait that could make it difficult for the Huskies to contend in the Pac-12 North until 2016.
Idaho State Bengals
Game details: Sept. 18 (Friday), 7 p.m., CBS Sports Network
Coach: Mike Kramer (14-32 in four years at ISU; 91-107 in 17 years overall)
Last year: 8-4, 6-2 Big Sky (tied for second)
Returning starters (offense/defense/specialists): 9/6/1
Player to watch: Senior wide receiver Madison Mangum of Timberline High led the Bengals last year with 83 catches for 1,234 yards and 10 touchdowns. He averaged 112.2 yards per game – and threw a touchdown pass, too.
Summer vibe: The Bengals lost star quarterback and Payton Award finalist Justin Arias but coach Mike Kramer expects to continue the program’s resurgence. The Bengals could be ranked in the FCS Top 25 when they roll onto the blue turf for the first time since the 2008 season opener, Kellen Moore’s first game. “We consider ourselves to be one of the elite teams in the United States and our plans are to stay there,” Kramer said before spring ball.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Game details: Oct. 3 (Saturday), TBA
Coach: Norm Chow (8-29 in three years)
Last year: 4-9, 3-5 Mountain West (fourth in West)
Returning starters (offense/defense/specialists): 8/6/0
Player to watch: Junior quarterback Ikaika Woolsey (12 starts, 13 TD passes) returns, but he’ll have to fight to keep the job. USC transfer Max Wittek and redshirt freshman Beau Reilly highlight the competition. Quarterback has been a weakness for the Warriors during Chow’s tenure.
Summer vibe: Chow got this job with a reputation as an offensive wizard. Wittek, who by the second week of spring ball was getting the most first-team snaps, might be his best chance to deliver the scoring punch that has been lacking. The Warriors lost six games by 10 points or fewer last season. Their average output in those games: 17.8 points.
Game details: Oct. 24 (Saturday), TBA
Coach: Craig Bohl (4-8 in one year at Wyoming; 108-40 in 12 years overall)
Last year: 4-8, 2-6 Mountain West (tied for fifth in Mountain)
Returning starters (offense/defense/specialists): 5/4/1
Player to watch: Senior end Eddie Yarbrough was an All-MW first-teamer last season with 63 tackles, 10.5 tackles for loss and four sacks. It was his second All-MW first-team selection.
Summer vibe: Bohl’s second season in Laramie should feature a more capable offense. Indiana transfer Cameron Coffman ranked second in the Big Ten in passing yards per game in 2012 and the Cowboys return a productive tailback duo in Shaun Wick and Brian Hill (1,549 combined rushing yards). But Bohl bases his program on winning low-scoring games – a tough task with seven new starters on defense.
New Mexico Lobos
Game details: Nov. 14 (Saturday), TBA
Coach: Bob Davie (11-26 in three years at New Mexico; 46-51 in eight years overall)
Last year: 4-8, 2-6 (tied for fifth in Mountain)
Returning starters (offense/defense/specialists): 7/7/2
Player to watch: All-MW first-team linebacker Dakota Cox tore an anterior cruciate ligament late in the Boise State game in November. There has been some question about whether he will play in the season opener, but he told the Albuquerque Journal he will be ready.
Summer vibe: The option-based Lobos have switched to a no-huddle offense. They even emphasized the passing game in their final spring scrimmage and have switched to a five-DB alignment on defense. Returner Lamar Jordan, a strong runner, remains the favorite to start at quarterback but former Washington State QB Austin Apodaca provides another option.
Air Force Falcons
Game details: Nov. 20 (Friday), 7:30 p.m., ESPN2
Coach: Troy Calhoun (59-44 in eight years at Air Force)
Last year: 10-3, 5-3 Mountain West (fourth in Mountain); beat Western Michigan in the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
Returning starters (offense/defense/specialists): 6/5/0
Player to watch: All-MW first-team safety Weston Steelhammer made 61 tackles and recorded six interceptions last season. He grabbed half of his interceptions in the upset of Boise State.
Summer vibe: The Falcons return most of the offense from their breakout 2014 season but will have a new quarterback, a bunch of new starters on defense and a couple new coaches. Was 2014 a resurgence or a mirage? That probably won’t be known until October because of the way the Falcons’ schedule is constructed this year.
Coming next month
We’ll take a look at the six road opponents.