Early Predictions for the Boise State Football 2024 Season: The toughest opponent, a possible trap game and potential overall record

Taya Power-Thornton | The Arbiter

Editor’s Note: Revised on Friday, Feb. 17 to reflect Georgia Southern playing in Division I FBS

Overall, 2024 looks to be a surefire 10-win season.

This season marks the first time that both Air Force and Fresno State are not slated to play Boise State in the same season since the Broncos joined the Mountain West Conference in 2011.

Boise State football is returning 18 starters, including running back Ashton Jeanty and defensive end Ahmed Hassanein. Not only are they returning two key players, but they have also been busy in the transfer portal all offseason. The highlight of the offseason being the acquisition of Malachi Nelson from the University of Southern California. 

Here are my predictions for what’s to come in 2024 for Boise State football.

WIN AT GEORGIA SOUTHERN UNIVERSITY

Georgia Southern is one of the easiest teams on the Broncos schedule this year. The twist for this game is that the Broncos will be on the road this week.

Georgia Southern had a tough 2023 season. They started off hot going 6-2 but they went on a five-game losing streak to end the season finishing 6-7.

Nevertheless, good coaching and focus should prevent this from being a trap game for Boise State. The Broncos will likely have an easy road win here and be able to start the season off 1-0. 

LOSS AT UNIVERSITY OF OREGON 

A win in Eugene against the University of Oregon would do more than start the season off right. It would mark the first time Boise State beat a Power Five school since Hank Bachmeier led a famous comeback against Florida State University back in week one of 2019.

With that said, Oregon hasn’t lost at home since week 10 of 2022 when they were outscored by none other than the University of Washington.

The Ducks will be without Bo Nix as he’s declared for the NFL draft, however, they’ve picked up another great talent at quarterback in senior Dillon Gabriel, who had an outstanding 2023 season at the University of Oklahoma.

Despite the Broncos 3-0 all-time record against the Ducks, this task may be too tall for the young team. The outcome will likely be similar to last year’s week 1 matchup against Washington.

WIN VS. PORTLAND STATE UNIVERSITY

The Portland State University will be the only FCS team the Broncos play this season. The Vikings went 5-6 last season in a tough Big Sky Conference.

Just because they’re not in the Football Bowl Subdivision doesn’t mean they’re incapable of winning, as they hung 91 points on North American University last September.

The Broncos have never lost to an FCS opponent, and it’s doubtful that trend will end this fall.

WIN VS. OREGON STATE UNIVERSITY

Oregon State will travel to Albertson’s Stadium and play Boise State for the second time in the last three years.

The Broncos look a lot different since the 2022 loss however. The Broncos have a new head coach, offensive and defensive coordinators and quarterback 

The Beavers did pretty well in the transfer portal, bringing in 14 three-star recruits, however lost junior quarterback D.J. Uiagalelei to Florida State University (FSU).

This will be a great game to test the waters and see where Boise State is at as a team. The Beavers went 8-5 last season and are potentially in a weak state as far as Power Five teams go, if you would still consider PAC-12/2 teams, “Power 5”.

WIN VS. UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, RENO 

The University of Nevada, Reno went 2-10 in 2023 and that likely won’t change too drastically in 2024 as the Wolf Pack have fired their head coach and replaced him with Jeff Choate, who spent some time as a positions coach at Boise State from 2006-2011.

There’s even more big news for the Wolf Pack however as they’ve picked up Brock Pudy’s younger brother Chubba Purdy from the University of Nebraska in the transfer portal.

Nevada could be a dangerous team this season. They likely won’t make a bowl, but certainly could be capable of upsetting stronger Mountain West teams.

With that said, the Broncos probably won’t be that team, especially at home.

WIN VS. SAN DIEGO STATE UNIVERSITY

Coming off a 4-8 season in 2023, San Diego State University should be thanking their lucky stars that their PAC-12 venture flaked out on them.

The team hasn’t made many considerable moves regarding coaching nor transfer portal so far in 2024, aside from picking up redshirt freshman quarterback AJ Duffy from Florida State University.

 Most of their players who are transferring are leaving to bigger schools, while they are left in the dust with players from smaller schools.

The Aztecs will likely have a similar season result in 2024, as will they have a similar game result against Boise State.

WIN VS. UTAH STATE UNIVERSITY

Good memories stem from the last time the Broncos played Utah State University.

It was Spencer Danielson’s first game as head coach and the most points Boise State put up all season (45-10).

The 2024 season is a new year however, and the Aggies have a new team. They’ve added two new quarterbacks from Power 5 conferences over the offseason in Bryson Barnes and Spencer Petras, but neither were particularly successful at their previous schools.

The additions are suspect however as both quarterbacks from last season in Cooper Legas and McCae Hillstead also return.

If there’s one thing Boise State knows about, it’s quarterback drama and Utah State seems to have caught the bug in 2024.

The Aggies are still rebuilding, however remain difficult to forecast. It’s hard to see the Broncos not chalk up a win on The Blue against Utah State.

WIN VS. WASHINGTON STATE UNIVERSITY

This game is the beginning of at least a one-year that hinges upon an “7+1” conference play format where MWC teams will play seven conference games instead of eight, and will play either Oregon State or Washington State, which will not affect conference standings.

The Cougars started strong last season, notably beating Oregon State University and the University of Wisconsin, but fluttered out to finish 5-7.

They’ve been hurting over this offseason, most recently losing junior quarterback Cameron Ward to the University of Miami.

The Broncos are 1-5 all time against Washington State, with the most recent game being a 47-44 loss in Pullman, however now seems to be the most opportune time to add to the win column, as both teams remaining in the Pac-12 are in a vulnerable position.

LOSS AT UNIVERSITY OF HAWAII 

It’s been a while since the Broncos squared off against the University of Hawaii. The last matchup between the two was in 2020 in Honolulu where Boise State beat them for the ninth straight time, 40-32.

This game will be interesting. Hawaii hasn’t had a productive offseason thus far, and will likely not be a bowl team next year unless they hire a Dieon Sanders type of coach out of the blue. 

For the Broncos, this will be a test of how well coached the team is. The Rainbow Warriors had some big upset victories last year (that helped Boise State out quite a bit) so this could very well be a trap game.

Good teams beat bad teams, and that seemed to be a contentious statement last year all over the Mountain West. While it’s unlikely the Broncos drop this game with all the talent they have, Hawaii will always be one of those places full of distractions, which could hurt Boise State.

WIN AT SAN JOSE STATE UNIVERSITY

The 2023 season went a lot better for the Spartans than many predicted. By the end of the season, tied the best conference record with both Boise State and the University of Las Vegas, Nevada (UNLV) at 6-2.

The 2024 offseason has not gone so optimistically however. They’ve lost both their quarterback Chevan Cordeiro and leading rusher Kairee Robinson

It seems that last year’s Oregon transfer Jay Butterfield may be next up at quarterback, but the Spartans are still looking in the transfer portal at that position.

It’s hard to say how well San Jose will do during the season, but the Broncos are dealing with less turnover and seem to be the more complete team at the moment, which is why they’ll win.

WIN AT UNIVERSITY OF NEVADA, LAS VEGAS

Another match against the same team at the same location as the 2023 Mountain West Championship.

Last year the Broncos beat the Rebels 44-20, but this rematch will likely look a lot different on UNLV’s side of the ball. 

The biggest change is the departure of star quarterback Jayden Maiava, as he has announced that he will be transferring to the University of Southern California this offseason. 

At the moment, the Rebel’s best bet to fill the void are between two Football Championship Subdivision (FCS) quarterbacks the program picked up in the transfer portal.

UNLV is also facing turnover at running back as well, as top rusher Vincent Davis Jr. will forgo his last year of eligibility and enter the NFL draft.

Historically, the Broncos have rarely struggled to take down the Rebels, and as they face serious turnover at major positions, it looks to be a likely victory for Boise State.

WIN AT UNIVERSITY OF WYOMING

The University of Wyoming is in a tough spot this season. Their head coach of 10 seasons announced his retirement in December making former defensive coordinator, Jay Sawvel, left with some very big shoes to fill.

On top of that, they’re dealing with massive turnover at quarterback, as well as on the defensive side of the ball, which has traditionally been their largest strength.

Nonetheless, Sawvel is obviously a defensive minded coach, and will carry on that torch, but concerns of offense remain a huge factor, as they always have with this team.

This year the Cowboys are sort of a project team more than anything else. The Broncos will likely bully them out of Albertsons Stadium before the end of the first half.

POST SEASON

With the expansion of the College Football Playoff to 12 teams, one could say Boise State’s opportunity to earn a spot has increased exponentially.

With that said, this is still Danielson’s first full season as Boise State’s head coach. Reaching a playoff berth would be perhaps the best start to a head coaching tenure ever, bar none.

Even so, it’s hard to say that any Mountain West, or Group of 5 team for that matter, could make the playoffs without going undefeated all the way through the season.

Schools like Southern Methodist University, who had an 11 win season and were American Athletic Conference champions, only reached the No. 17 spot before their bowl game.

It’s difficult to tell whether or not the Broncos will appear in the top 12 so early in the year, but they almost certainly will be in the top 25 and at the top of the Mountain West.

Toughest Opponent: Oregon

Rivalry Match: San Diego State

Trap Game: Hawaii

Overall Record: 10-2

MWC Championship: Boise State Wins vs. Fresno State

Bowl Game: Las Vegas Bowl

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