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Boise State again the favorite in the Mountain West but seeking first title since 2019


BOISE, Idaho (AP) - It’s been four years since Boise State last claimed a Mountain West championship.

That might not seem like much of a drought, but for the Broncos it’s been a frustrating stretch of missed opportunities.

In the pandemic-altered season of 2020, the Broncos reached the title game only to get thumped by San Jose State. In 2021, Boise State finished third in its division and didn’t make the championship game. And last year after handily beating Fresno State during the regular season, the Broncos were held to their second-lowest point total of the year in a 28-16 loss to the Bulldogs on the blue turf.

But here the Broncos are entering the season as the Mountain West favorite yet again and looking to fulfill that expectation for the first time since 2019.

“Being a successful team for us is defined by winning a championship,” coach Andy Avalos said. “Being successful and winning a bowl game, and building this team throughout the course of the year.”

The Broncos return dynamic starting quarterback Taylen Green, whose combo of run and pass turned around Boise State’s season in 2022. Running back George Holani returns seeking a third 1,000-yard rushing season. The Broncos had a top-15 defense last season but have some holes to fill.

And they’ll be challenged by one of the toughest schedules in recent years that starts with a trip to No. 10 Washington to open the season.


Boise State’s fortunes changed last season when Green took over as the starting quarterback. Sitting at 2-2 and down 13-0 at halftime to San Diego State, the Broncos turned to Green and he sparked a 35-point outburst. Boise State went 6-1 in the regular season games Green started before its loss to Fresno State in the conference title game. For the season, Green rushed for 586 yards and 10 TDs and threw for another 2,042 yards and 14 touchdowns.

And unlike last year, there’s no quarterback controversy for the Broncos. Green is the clear leader from the start.


Green’s ability as a runner only adds to a Broncos running attack that has the chance to be overpowering. Holani returns after rushing for 1,157 yards and 10 touchdowns in 13 games. He’ll be joined by Ashton Jeanty, who had 821 yards and seven scores. Put those two with Green and the Broncos could easily surpass the 196 yards per game rushing they averaged a season ago.

There is a catch. Boise State does bring back offensive tackle Cade Beresford, but there are other questions on the offensive line.


With Avalos as the head coach, the Broncos are always going to have a strong defense. Matching what they did last season will be tough. Boise State was sixth in the country in total defense, fifth in passing yards allowed and 15th in scoring defense, allowing less than 20 points per game.

Leading tackler DJ Schramm returns at linebacker and should help provide stability. Edge rusher Demitri Washington had 4½ sacks in 10 games and safety Rodney Robinson was second on the team with three interceptions. They’ll all have important roles if the Broncos are to be successful. But there are still holes to fill after the loss of safety JL Skinner, linebacker Ezekiel Noa and defensive lineman Scott Matlock.


If the Broncos reach the Mountain West championship game, and if they find themselves with some national relevance by the end of the season, they will have earned it. The Broncos start at Washington, return home to host UCF in another marquee nonconference matchup in Week 2 and close out September at Memphis. The Mountain West slate starts Sept. 22 at San Diego State and includes November road games at Fresno State and Utah State before closing out the regular season at home against Air Force, which was picked second in the preseason poll.

Article Topic Follows: Boise State Athletics

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Associated Press


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