Second-year head coach Andy Avalos looks to make his mark as the face of Boise State football.
After finishing third in its division only a year ago, Andy Avalos and his Boise State football team are expected to contend for a conference championship in what should be a deep Mountain West.
This will be Avalos’ second year leading his alma mater’s program, having left Oregon to take over for Bryan Harsin once he resigned to become the next head coach at Auburn. Despite playing in the same Mountain Division as Air Force and Utah State, Boise State was picked to win the division and face Fresno State in the conference title bout. Expectations are sky high for Boise.
Thus, coming in at No. 35 on FanSided’s Preseason Top 50 Rankings, the Boise State Broncos!
Boise State football 2021 season in review
Avalos returned to Boise after spending the 2019 and 2020 seasons as Mario Cristobal’s defensive coordinator at Oregon. Though he has had other jobs across college football, coming home was too good of any opportunity for him to pass up at this juncture of his career. However, the Broncos suffered their worst full-season since 1998, as Boise State only went 7-5 last fall.
It was a mixed bag in the first half of the season for the Broncos. They went lose one, win one right up until Halloween. While they got impressive road wins at Utah State and at BYU, the Broncos lost at home to Nevada and Air Force. Though a road loss at UCF was possible and a home loss to Oklahoma State was likely, Boise State was only 4-4 after beating Colorado State.
After proving victorious in Fort Collins, Boise State rattled off three more wins in a row at Fresno State, vs. Wyoming and vs. New Mexico. While they would lose at San Diego State to close out the regular season, the second half of the year was definitely better than the first for Avalos’ Broncos. Unfortunately, they had the Arizona Bowl vs. Central Michigan canceled due to a COVID outbreak…
Previewing Boise State offense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (7): Hank Bachmeier (QB), George Holani (RB), Stefan Cobbs (WR), John Ojukwu (LT), Will Farrar (LG), Ben Dooley (RG), Riley Smith (TE)
- Newcomer: Cade Beresford (RT)
- Impact player: Hank Bachmeier (QB)
A big reason why Boise State is expected to be considerably better year-over-year is how much talent is returning on the offensive side of the ball. They have right around seven returning starters, plus a few other guys who have ample playing experience. From Hank Bachmeier at quarterback, to Riley Smith at tight end, Boise State should have no problems putting up points.
Coming over from Washington State is redshirt senior transfer Cade Beresford. He and his younger brother in defensive end Jack Beresford opted to leave Pullman in favor of playing for Boise State. Cade Beresford started eight of nine games at right guard for the Cougars a season ago. He is expected to man right tackle on an experienced offensive line for the Broncos this year.
No player will be more impactful across the board for the Broncos this season than its senior quarterback. Bachmeier needs to be protected better by his offensive line that gave up 27 sacks a season ago. There may be other excellent quarterbacks in the Mountain West, most notably Jake Haener at Fresno State, but for as long as Bachmeier is upright, then his team will have a chance.
Previewing Boise State defense for 2022 season
- Returning starters (8): Jackson Cravens (NT), Scott Matlock (DT), Demitri Washington (EDGE), Ezekiel Noa (MLB), Caleb Biggers (CB), JL Skinner (S), Tyreque Jones (NB), Kaonohi Kaniho (CB)
- Newcomers (2): Cortez Hogans (DE), Deven Wright (EDGE)
- Impact player: Scott Matlock (DT)
It is not just the Broncos offense that is returning a ton of starters this season. The Boise State defense returns right around eight, including the likes of Scott Matlock in the trenches and JL Skinner in the defensive backfield. Though the linebacking corps may be a tad inexperienced when compared to the other position groups, keep in that Avalos was a former Boise State linebacker…
As far as newcomers are concerned, a pair of transfers will be playing defensive end for this year’s Broncos team. Cortez Hogans makes his way to Boise by way of Snow College. He used to play at Northern Illinois before that. Backing him up, possibly vying for a starting spot, is Deven Wright coming off the edge. He played his junior college ball in Mississippi, so he is ready for this big leap.
A few players really stand out on the Broncos’ defense, but let’s give the slight edge to Matlock over Skinner as this unit’s most impactful player. Being able to dictate terms in the trenches will go a long way towards Boise State improving from a 7-5 team to a squad capable of winning the Mountain West and being in the mix to contend for a Group of Five championship if they get lucky.
Boise State football players awards watch for 2022 season
A handful of Boise State football players appear on awards watch lists, including these four guys.
Stefan Cobbs, Hornung
Stefan Cobbs is expected to do big things in the middle of Boise State’s offense. With a proven connection to Bachmeier, do not be shocked if Cobbs is up for the Hornung at the end of the year.
Scott Matlock, Bednarik, Outland
Matlock finds himself on both the Bednarik and Outland watch lists. It may be tough sledding for a Group of Five player to win either prestigious honor in a given season, but Boise State is different.
JL Skinner, Thorpe, Nagurski
Skinner is in a similar position when it comes to preseason award season as Matlock. Not only is he up for the Thorpe as the nation’s best defensive back, but he is in contention for the Nagurski.
George Holani, Doak Walker, Maxwell
If Boise State is leading in a ton of games, it would make it easier for George Holani to be in the mix to win major college football awards like the Doak Walker or the Maxwell. This will be difficult.
Boise State football biggest game on 2022 schedule
For as good as Boise State can be this year, the Broncos have far from an easy schedule. They draw BYU at home and start the year off on the road at Oregon State in the non-conference. The Broncos also have to play presumably the two best teams out of the West this year in San Diego State and Fresno State back-to-back. Of course, none of it matters if they lose games in-division.
With a bye after the Fresno State game, it is imperative Boise State beats what could be the best Air Force team in years in Colorado Springs. Although the Broncos got 14 first-place votes out of 28 to win the Mountain Division, the Falcons were right on their tails with 10 first-place votes. Utah State is a big game at the end of the regular season for the Broncos, but Air Force is the one.
As long as the Broncos beat Air Force and Utah State, it can win the Mountain, even if they end up splitting with San Diego State and Fresno State ahead of the bye week before the Air Force game.
Boise State football best-case scenario
In terms of a best-case scenario for the Broncos, they have the schedule to win the Group of Five and reach the New Year’s Six. Though they do not have the pathway or the track record of say a Cincinnati to crash the College Football Playoff party, they will be rewarded with an NY6 bowl if they navigate their season to perfection. But even in a best-case scenario, that is too much to ask.
In theory, Boise State could win all of its Mountain West games, but to parlay that with non-conference wins over BYU and at Oregon State is not realistic. Though they could beat the Beavers at Reser and hand the Cougars a loss at home, Boise State still has to play the four other best teams in the Mountain West (San Diego State, Fresno State, Air Force, Utah State) on its schedule.
At best, this team can go 11-1 and win the Mountain West, but 10-2 (7-1) is a bit more realistic.
Boise State football worst-case scenario
No, the Broncos aren’t going 7-5 again. That was an anomaly for one of the best programs in the country over the last quarter century. However, don’t kid yourself. This 2022 slate of games is daunting as all get-up for Boise State. Because the Broncos played so well in the second half of the season under Avalos, as well as return so many starters, this team should push for 10 wins.
If it were to hypothetically hit the fan on the blue turf, what would that look like? Well, it starts with Boise State dropping either the Oregon State game or the BYU game in the non-conference, but probably not both. From there, they loss three of four against the perceived best teams the Mountain West can ever hope to offer San Diego State, Fresno State, Air Force and Utah State.
Boise State has too much pride to be worse than an 8-4 (5-3) team, but that schedule is brutal!
Boise State football 2022 season prediction
Ultimately, Boise State is not going to be a team with a ton of variance this season. The Broncos are who they are, and they will be better than they were a season ago. In most years, this team could be good enough to win the Group of Five and push towards an undefeated season. However, Avalos is still largely unproven as a head coach and the Mountain West as a whole looks dominant.
Boise State starts the year off right with a thrilling first victory over a feisty Oregon State team in Corvallis. They get to 4-0 with wins at New Mexico, over UT-Martin and at UTEP. From there, it kicks up a notch with San Diego State coming to town on Friday night. While the Broncos prove victorious over the Aztecs, they fall for the first time in a signature game for Haener and Fresno.
Mulling over the heartbreaking loss at home to the Bulldogs, Avalos will have his boys ready after the bye and will run roughshod over the best Air Force team in years, somewhat surprisingly. This momentum will carry into a breezy seventh victory on the year over Colorado State at Fort Collins. After that, hubris takes over, as the Broncos fall to BYU in what will be a revenge game for them.
At 7-2, Boise State beats conference Nevada and Wyoming on the road at their places. With a Mountain Division title on the line, it all comes down to the Utah State date. It may be a revenge game for the Aggies, but the Broncos got this. The Mountain Division champions will, unfortunately, have to go on the road to face either San Diego State and Fresno State at their place for a rematch.
Boise State will go right around 10-2 (7-1), but they are not winning the rematch in the title bout.
Boise State football 2022 bowl game prediction
Nothing would make us happier than to see Boise State take on Wazzu in the Jimmy Kimmel LA Bowl. It will be Pac-12 vs. Mountain West shenanigans for all the world to not be interested in over in Southern California. The amount of late-night TV show bits that will emanate from this bowl game broadcast will be out the wazoo. I will show myself to the door after that one, guys…
Up next: No. 34: Florida Gators
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