Throughout August, we will be counting down the top 25 teams (as listed here) going into the 2009 season. Today, we trek into the Treasure Valley to examine Boise State. Don’t worry, I brought finger steaks from Buster’s, an ice cream potato from the Westside Drive-In, and my giant block of ice to slide down the hill next to the JR Simplot manor. How’s that for local references, Idahoans?

First Impression

Until a rogue safety throws his shoulder into your defenseless quarterback’s chin, it’s pretty impossible not to like the Boise State Broncos story. There’s the Fiesta Bowl, the innovative, precise offense, and the turf. It’s blue. You probably know that by now.

I’m fairly certain a number of programs that are considered to be traditionally strong would take Chris Peterson in a heartbeat, but he’s plenty happy in Boise, so good on him. I still don’t see him as a lifer, but I could very well be wrong.

As long as Peterson’s in charge and the Broncos are in the WAC, we pretty much know what we’ll get – big numbers, wins in the double digits more often than not, and a team filled with passed-over players who have been expertly developed into effective players. Ho hum.

Last Year

Had Boise handled TCU in their bowl game, it could be argued that the 2008 Boise squad was the best of the decade, if not the most dominant. The win over Oregon, despite my bitter circumstantial claims, was gigantic for the program.

In conference play, the only real tests the Broncos faced were @San Jose State and @Nevada, two decent teams. As always, it would be far more interesting to see the boys in blue play in a superior conference, but the invites aren’t exactly pouring in.

Chris Peterson’s squad finished the season 12-0, which got them an invite to a bowl that felt like it was played around Thanksgiving. Despite the slap-in-the-face bowl bid, they were at least matched up against a quite good TCU team, which promptly suffocated the BSU offense.

People

While most of the national eyes were on newlywed RB Ian Johnson, it was RS freshman QB Kellen Moore‘s team, especially considering the Broncos threw nearly twice as much as they ran. Moore had a 25 TD/10 INT/3500 yard season, which for a player in his first active college season, is, uh, swell.

Johnson’s gone, but junior RB Jeremy Avery, a back who had more YPC than Johnson, should figure in significantly in the effort to balance out the BSU offense, especially considering every playmaking receiver is gone.

Up front, the O-line is a patchwork project without a ton of experience, but there looks to be enough bodies around to give Kellen Moore just enough time to take spread the ball around.

Up front on defense, the Broncos lose three starters and promising DT Michael Atkinson will be suspended for the Oregon game. Never good to be without an inside presence against a dominant running team. Ever.

Similar to the number of returners on the D-line, only one linebacker, Derrell Acrey, returns. The hope is that Boise can take advantage of their athletic, younger LBs and not fall victim to a general lack of experience among the front seven starters.

The secondary appears to be the strongest returning group. Both corners, Kyle Wilson and Brandyn Thompson, have had plenty of lockdown performances to instill confidence outside, and who knows, Jeron Johnson (FS), the team’s leading returning tackler, may decapitate somebody on the field this year … so there’s that.

It should be a long year for Boise opponents. Teams seem to get down early against the Broncos and then find themselves throwing into a brutal secondary. Good deal.

This Year

It’s pretty simple. The biggest game ever played at Bronco Stadium is a week from Thursday against Oregon. I don’t see it being close in either direction. The Bronco offense will either throw all over the Ducks to pace a double digit win or will get run over and lose by double digits. Do you even have to ask where I’m siding on this one?

After this, the only notable games are @Fresno St, @Tulsa, @Hawaii, and scary Nevada at home.

Worst case scenario is probably 11-2. Not. Too. Bad.

Conclusion

IFFFFFFFF the Broncos get by the Ducks, they probably go undefeated. Kellen Moore, when he’s firing on all cylinders (generally the case) is as smooth as it gets. They’re probably a year away from as good as they were last year, but it should be, ho-hum, another dominant year.

Prediction

12-1. Boise has similar problems up front on both sides of the ball that Oregon has, but I’ll take the rebuilt Oregon lines over the issues BSU has. As an Oregon fan, though, I still want no part of Chris Peterson’s crazy play action. And I’m guessing neither does the rest of the WAC.

Game Highlights Set to Black Eyed Peas “Music”

httpv://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HVSKpmcyOng

-Dan