The reports of Boise State’s demise were greatly exaggerated.
After dropping to 2-2 with double-digit defeats to Oregon State and UTEP, it seemed like the Broncos were headed for a disastrous season in Year 2 of head coach Andy Avalos’ tenure. As Lee Corso likes to say, “Not so fast!”
Boise State, which fired offensive coordinator Tim Plough after the UTEP defeat, currently sits at 4-2 after a 35-13 victory over San Diego State (Boise trailed 13-0 at halftime) and a dominant 40-20 win over Fresno State. The Broncos are a perfect 3-0 in Mountain West Conference play, positioning themselves well to make the conference championship later this year.
Down year in the Mountain West
ESPN’s Football Power Index gives Boise State a 77.3% chance to win the Mountain West’s Mountain Division. FPI also gives the Broncos a 46.5% chance to win the league title, the highest percentage of any team in the conference.
A couple of weeks ago, people wanted to know what was wrong with the Broncos. Now, they seem poised to contend or win the Mountain West. While two wins against mediocre teams doesn’t make Boise State an elite team – the Broncos aren’t receiving AP top 25 votes and they’re 62nd in ESPN’s FPI metric – the Broncos are still one of the top programs in the Mountain West.
That says plenty about Boise State’s culture and tradition – the Broncos have posted a winning record every season since 1998 – and it speaks to the Mountain West’s struggles this fall.
Fresno State was expected to be special, but an injury to quarterback Jake Haener and subpar play has the Bulldogs sitting at 1-4 overall. San Diego State, often a top team in the league, is just 3-3. Air Force has underachieved at 4-2 despite a soft schedule, and Colorado State, Hawaii, Nevada, and New Mexico are awful.
ESPN’s latest SP+ ranking has the Mountain West as the ninth-best FBS conference, trailing every Group of Five conference outside of the MAC.
Power Five bound?
Even after a slow start and moderate success the last two seasons – the Broncos are 11-7 under Avalos – Boise State is still one of the better Group of Five programs. They have a strong history of winning over the last two decades, playing in huge bowl games on multiple occasions from 2006-14.
Given the program’s tradition, it would make sense for a league like the Pac-12 or Big 12 to have interest in adding the Broncos in future seasons. With realignment severely weakening each league, Boise State seems like a logical future addition.
Bounce-back wins the last couple of weeks show that Boise State isn’t quite ready for a losing season. In fact, the Broncos seem to have as good a chance as any in the MWC to secure a conference championship.
Pundits were quick to question Boise State after the team’s loss to UTEP. Given the relative weakness of the Mountain West and the program’s ability to repel losing seasons, that feels like a hasty judgment in hindsight.