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Times' preseason college football rankings: No. 4 Boise State

The Broncos are 'cautiously optimistic' about making a title run a season after nearly going all the way. Boise State has moved to the Mountain West Conference but returns several key players.

August 27, 2011|Chris Dufresne
  • Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, unloading a pass against Fresno State last season, is a Heisman Trophy candidate as he enters his senior season.
Boise State quarterback Kellen Moore, unloading a pass against Fresno… (Matt Cilley / Associated…)

The urge to make Boise State preseason No.1 again this year was quickly quelled by the self-inflicted force of a blunt object to the prognosticator's head.

No thanks.

Apparently, thinking Boise State could win the national title was like thinking Pee-wee Herman could win an Oscar.

Never mind Boise nearly raced all the way to Pee-wee's Big Top. The Broncos came two plays — a tackle and a kick — from earning a trip to the Bowl Championship Series title game.

Alabama, unfortunately, could not hold a 24-0 lead against Auburn at home and poor kicker Kyle Brotzman missed that chip shot in Reno.

Boise State didn't go to the BCS title game, or the Rose Bowl. It ended up in Las Vegas, with a lousy 26-3 win over Utah.

Boise State finished a disappointing, um, 12-1, but such is life.

This year we've slightly downgraded Boise State's credit rating from AAA to AA, leaving open the chance the Broncos might still shock the world.

This time, though, we just won't have as much blood and sweat vested.

This is a new day in Boise. The team has left the Western Athletic Conference for the Mountain West. It was time for a new challenge. Boise State joined the WAC in 2001 and never lost a home conference game.

The Mountain West is an upgrade, although rival Texas Christian is leaving for the Big East after this season.

"New schemes, new coaches, new venues, new travels," Boise State Coach Chris Petersen said at Mountain West media day.

Same old Boise State, though. The Broncos have been picked to win the Mountain West and will start the season ranked high enough to make another national title run.

It will take threading another needle. Last year's run began with a harrowing opening win over Virginia Tech in Maryland.

This year's dream lives or dies with a Sept. 3 opener against Georgia in Atlanta.

Boise State will be favored, but this is still a road game against the Southeastern Conference.

Everyone talks about what Boise State lost, starting with receivers Titus Young and Austin Pettis. These were two big-strike guys, no doubt, but Boise State returns plenty of pass catchers.

"We all have a little bit of a chip on our shoulder," returning receiver Tyler Shoemaker told the Idaho Statesman. "…we've got guys to throw it to."

More important, Boise returns the man who can throw it. Kellen Moore. He was great enough to be in the Heisman hunt but not quite great enough to turn professional, so he returns to cap one of college's finest careers. Moore is 38-2 as a starter. The two losses were by four total points.

The running game, led by Doug Martin, will be strong while the defense front may be the nation's deepest and best.

"We're cautiously optimistic," Petersen says of Boise State's chances.

This year, so are we.

The countdown so far: 25. Texas; 24. Georgia; 23. Arkansas; 22. Arizona State; 21. West Virginia; 20. Auburn; 19. Ohio State; 18. USC; 17. Michigan State; 16. Florida; 15. Virginia Tech; 14. Texas A&M; 13. Texas Christian; 12. South Carolina; 11. Notre Dame; 10. Louisiana State; 9. Oklahoma State; 8. Wisconsin; 7. Nebraska; 6. Stanford; 5. Florida State.

chris.dufresne@latimes.com

twitter.com/dufresnelatimes

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