FanHouse's 2010 Preseason College Football Poll -- No. 3 Boise State
Don't let Boise State coach Chris Petersen see you re-Tweet this -- you know how he feels about Twitter -- but the Broncos are my pick to win this year's BCS national championship. Sure, based on the votes of my other 11 fine, hard-working (albeit somewhat clueless) colleagues at FanHouse, Boise State only ended up as FanHouse's third-ranked team in our preseason poll. But keep the faith Bronco fans: you'll be No. 1 when it counts in January.
At least that's my story and I'm sticking to it. Why Boise State? Two reasons: the Broncos basically have a two-game regular season -- the monster matchup on Labor Day against Virginia Tech (FanHouse's No. 11 team) and a home contest against Oregon State (FanHouse's No. 19 team) three weeks later -- and no other team in the nation will finish the regular season undefeated.
Win those two games and the Broncos are in the BCS title game. The Broncos may not be the nation's best team, but they don't have to be. Actually, as long as Boise State competes in the WAC, the Broncos will never get a chance week-in and week-out to prove if they are the nation's best team.
That, of course, will change somewhat next season when the Broncos upgrade to the Mountain West. When they arrive, will they bring some BCS national title hardware?
That depends a large part on quarterback Kellen Moore. The Broncos return nearly their entire starting lineup from last year's 14-0 club, led by their dark horse Heisman Trophy candidate, who threw for 3,536 yards, 39 touchdowns and only three interceptions last year. Wide receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis, who combined for 142 catches, 1,896 yards and 24 TDs last year, are primed to exceed those numbers this fall.
Lineman Ryan Winterswyk and safety Jeron Johnson, among nine senior starters, anchor an underrated defense that will be tested out of the gate by Virginia Tech's power running game.
THE BASICS: 14-0 last year, defeated TCU 17-10 in Fiesta Bowl. Nine starters back on offense, 10 starters back on defense. Coach Chris Petersen is 49-4 in four years at Boise State.
KEY PLAYER YOU PROBABLY DON'T THINK OF AS A KEY PLAYER: CB Jamar Taylor. After playing as a freshman in 2008, Taylor was redshirted last season. Let's hope he's not rusty. Boise State returns 10 defensive starters -- and Taylor is the only new starter. Besides being a newcomer to the starting lineup, he has some big Nikes to fill, replacing Kyle Wilson, a first-round draft pick of the New York Jets. Opposing offenses certainly will test Taylor, early and often, to see if they can take advantage of the 5-foot-11, 192-pounder.
FLY IN THE OINTMENT: Oregon State, Sept. 25. Last season, when a Pac-10 team from the state of Oregon visited the blue turf, it turned into a slugfest. Literally. This time more fireworks will be flying, especially if Boise State enters the game with a 2-0 record. If that's the case, it will be reported ad nauseam that this game is all that stands between the Broncos and an undefeated season. Can Boise State, riding a 56-game home winning streak in regular season games, handle that giant bulls-eye?
DON'T MISS: Boise State vs. Virginia Tech on Sept. 6 in Landover, Md. This arguably is the biggest game in September, a month full of monster matchups. Two Top 10 AP-ranked teams with the winner vaulting directly into the national title hunt. The Broncos are certainly hoping to fare much better than 2005, the last time they opened the season away from home. That year, they were seal-clubbed 48-13 at Georgia.
PREDICTED RECORD: 12-0
FanHouse's Boise State team page with schedule
Brett McMurphy is a national college football writer for FanHouse. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org or please follow him at Twitter.com/BrettmcmurphY