2009 record: 14-0, 8-0 (1st in WAC)
2009 bowl: Beat TCU 17-10 in Fiesta
2009 final AP/coaches' ranking: 4/4
Coach: Chris Petersen (49-4, 4th year)
Offensive coordinator: Bryan Harsin (5th year)
Defensive coordinator: Pete Kwiatkowski (1st year)
Returning offensive starters: 10
Returning defensive starters: 10
Location: Boise, Idaho
Stadium: Bronco Stadium (Blue FieldTurf; 32,000)
Last league title: 2009
2010 schedule: [view]
2010 roster: [view]
2009 statistics: [view]
Offensive: Boise State revolves around junior quarterback Kellen Moore, a left-hander who was second nationally in passing efficiency. In two seasons, he already has 64 touchdown passes and just 13 interceptions (along with a 26-1 record). Moore is the first to say he doesn’t do it alone. There’s an embarrassment of riches at the skill positions, including senior wide receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis (who combined for 29 touchdown receptions), plus an ultra versatile backfield. Senior Jeremy Avery rushed for 1,151 yards and six touchdowns, but also watch for Doug Martin, who had 15 rushing touchdowns, even though he began last season on defense. The offensive line has eight players with starting experience, although one area bears watching. Junior Nate Potter has moved from tackle to guard, leaving the left tackle spot for sophomore Faraji Wright, the least experienced player in the unit.
Defensive: Ten starters return, but the loss was a severe one (cornerback Kyle Wilson, a first-round pick in the NFL draft). The Broncos remain formidable in the secondary, though, with senior safety Jeron Johnson, the team’s two-time leading tackler, and senior cornerback Brandyn Thompson, the Fiesta Bowl MVP, firmly in place. The defensive line, one of the nation’s best, probably has four players with All-WAC potential. The headliner, senior defensive end Ryan Winterswyk, has 19 career sacks. There’s great depth at linebacker, and the Broncos expect senior Derrell Acrey to emerge as a star in the middle.
Specialists: Senior Kyle Brotzman returns as the place-kicker and punter, although he could stand improvement in both areas. Young is a solid return man. He scored twice on kickoff returns last season and probably will return punts as well.
Coaching: Chris Petersen has three unbeaten regular-season finishes in four years. Um, not bad, coach. Petersen is constantly mentioned for openings at larger schools, but he is proving that the largest of goals can be achieved at Boise State. And with the Broncos shifting from the WAC to the Mountain West in 2011, that could become an even larger truth.
Heisman hopefuls: It’s an extremely uphill battle for any non-BCS conference player to win the Heisman Trophy. If all the cards fall perfectly, Moore could beat the system.
Overview: Remember that magical evening in early 2007, when warm-and-cuddly Boise State toppled Oklahoma in a monumental Fiesta Bowl. Trick play here. Trick play there. The Broncos were America’s darlings. Now they are a legitimate powerhouse, deserving of a shot at No. 1. The opener against Virginia Tech has all-or-nothing potential, so the dream could quickly unravel. But if the Broncos down the Hokies, then topple Oregon State on Sept. 25 … watch out!
Next up: No. 8 Nebraska
CFT: Former Penn State signalcaller Steven Bench joined the South Florida Bulls, he announced on Twitter.
CFT: The University of Nevada is honoring longtime coach Chris Ault, who stepped down in the fall, by renaming the school's football field after him.
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Penn State football coach and 2012 National Coach of the Year shares the challenges in turning around a program shattered by scandal. Real Sports premieres Tuesday, May 21 at 10 p.m. ET/PT on HBO.
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