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TODAY at No. 20: WISCONSIN Coach: Bryan Harsin (12-2, entering second season; 19-7 overall) 2014 record: 12-2, 7-1 in Mountain West; conference champions Look...

colorado st pickTODAY at No. 20: WISCONSIN

Coach: Bryan Harsin (12-2, entering second season; 19-7 overall)

2014 record: 12-2, 7-1 in Mountain West; conference champions

Look back: Some questioned whether Boise State could continue to thrive without coach Chris Petersen. During his debut season, coach Bryan Harsin proved the Broncos aren’t slowing down. Thanks to a potent offensive attack, Boise State rumbled to the Mountain West title. The Broncos suffered a 35-13 loss in the season opener and later stumbled at improved Air Force 28-14, but the team still managed to earn an invitation to the Fiesta Bowl. Boise State recorded a 38-30 win over a strong Arizona team, capping a strong first campaign for Petersen.

Offensive starters returning: 9

Offensive starters lost: 2

Defensive starters returning: 8

Defensive starters lost: 3

Key losses: QB Grant Hedrick, RB Jay Ajayi, DL Beau Martin, LB Blake Renaud, S Corey Bell, K Dan Goodale

Top returnees: OL Rees Odhiambo, OL Travis Averill, OL Marcus Henry, OL Mario Yakoo, OL Steven Baggett, WR Chaz Anderson, WR Thomas Sperbeck, WR Shane Williams-Rhodes, TE Jake Roh, NT Armand Nance, DT Sam McCaskill, DL Kamalei Correa, LB Ben Weaver, LB Tanner Vallejo, CB Donte Deayon, S Darian Thompson, CB Jonathan Moxey, P Sean Wale

Strengths: Dynamic running back Jay Ajayi helped spark a Boise State offense that ranked No. 14 nationally (494.3 yards per game) and No. 9 in scoring (39.7 points per game).

The Broncos had a solid defense, shining against the run. The team ranked No. 36 in rushing defense (142.6 yards allowed per game).

Boise State returns nine starters on offense and eight starters on defense, making it one of the experienced lineups in the nation.

The defense features the top five tacklers from last season, including imposing playmakers Tanner Vallejo and Kamalei Correa.

Weaknesses: While sophomore Ryan Finley has game-day experience and is the favorite to be named the starting quarterback, the Broncos entered preseason camp without a clearly identified leader of the offense.

The exits of Hendrick and Ajayi will undoubtedly leave a mark and it may take some time for newcomers to find their footing. It’s worth noting Boise State entered preseason camp last year with key holes to fill that had been resolved by the time athletes like Correa delivered big plays during the Fiesta Bowl win.

Boise State lacks depth at cornerback and even the offensive line that features five returning starters has been hit by preseason injuries.

Outlook: Boise State will open the season with a matchup against former coach Petersen, who is now at Washington and follow it with a tough showdown at BYU. The Broncos should have some of the biggest offseason issues sorted out by the time they start Mountain West play and make a run at another league title.

2015 SCHEDULE

Sept. 4 Washington

Sept. 12 at BYU

Sept. 18 Idaho State

Sept. 25 at Virginia

Oct. 3 Hawaii

Oct. 10 at Colorado State

Oct. 17 at Utah State

Oct. 24 Wyoming

Oct. 31 at UNLV

Nov. 14 New Mexico

Nov. 21 Air Force

Nov. 28 at San Jose State

Vincent Rizzo

College Football / College Basketball Handicapper. 2011 won 74%, 2012 won 72% 2015 SPECIAL. CALL, 877.WIN.ATS9 EMAIL,V@VincentRizzoSports.com

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