Sure, it’s July. But it’s never too early to talk college football. Here’s your daily fix — our eighth annual countdown of the preseason Top 25, as selected by the American-Statesman sports staff.
Last year’s CFP semifinalists were ranked Nos. 1, 2, 7 and 17 on our 2016 list.
Today’s team: No. 25 Boise State (Related coverage: ‘This guy is our best player’: Boise State LB Vander Esch primed for big year)
Best-case scenario: Junior quarterback Brett Rypien continues to develop under the tutelage of fourth-year coach Bryan Harsin, a former offensive coordinator at Texas. Rypien has a proven target in receiver in Cedrick Wilson, and Boise State’s passing game hopes to build on last season’s average of 298 yards a game.
Worst-case scenario: A young offensive line can’t protect Rypien or open holes for new running back Alexander Mattison, and the Broncos fail to consistently move the chains. If a run defense that ranked 69th in the nation a year ago can’t improve, Boise State will struggle to get off the field in a conference that likes to run the football.
The key game: Oct. 21, Wyoming. The Broncos reached No. 13 in the polls after last year’s 7-0 start, but a 30-28 loss at Wyoming triggered a rocky final six weeks. This year’s meeting features a battle between two of the nation’s most accomplished quarterbacks in Rypien and Wyoming’s Josh Allen.
INSIDE THE BRONCOS
Coach: Brian Harsin (fourth year, 31-9; overall, 38-14)
2016: 10-3, 6-2 in the Mountain West (lost 31-12 to Baylor in the Cactus Bowl)
Returning starters: 5 offense, 4 defense
Goodbye: RB Jeremy McNichols (Bucs, 5th round), WR Thomas Sperbeck (Bucs, undrafted free agent), OL Travis Averill (Falcons, UFA), OL Mario Yakoo, OL Steven Baggett, DL Sam McCaskill (Vikings, UFA), LB Ben Weaver, DB Chanceller James.
Spring cleaning: Eight projected starters were either limited or missed spring practice completely, but several younger players impressed with extended reps. In particular, Boise State showed off a promising collection of skill players, including running back Ryan Wolpin and receivers Sean Modster, A.J. Richardson and Bryan Jefferson. … The Broncos’ 2017 signing class ranked 63rd nationally but led the Mountain West; there was only one four-star, Virginia athlete Jermani Brown, who’s expected to be a defensive back.
RETURNING STAT LEADERS
Passing: Brett Rypien, 244-394-3,646, 24/8
Rushing: Alexander Mattison, 67-328-4 (2nd on team)
Receiving: Cedrick Wilson, 56-1,129-11 (2nd)
Tackles: S Cameron Hartfield, 65 (5th)
Sacks: NT David Moa, 8.5 (1st)
RETURNING ALL-CONFERENCE PLAYERS (4)
Offense: QB Brett Rypien (1st team), OL Mason Hampton (hon. men.), WR Cedrick Wilson (hon. men.)
Defense: NT David Moa (1st)
BOISE STATE: FYI
From Georgetown to Boise: The Broncos’ 2018 recruiting class includes Georgetown’s Brandon Hawkins, a 6-3, 210-pound three-star outside linebacker who had 132 tackles while earning first-team all-district honors last season. Hawkins reported more than a dozen offers, including from Air Force, Army, Colorado State, Houston, Indiana, Navy, SMU, Toledo and Tulsa.
Let him Ryp: Rypien led the Mountain West with 3,646 passing yards last season and ranked second with 24 touchdown passes. His uncle, former Washington Redskins quarterback Mark Rypien, earned Most Valuable Player honors while leading the Redskins to victory in Super Bowl XXV, and Brett quickly acknowledges the influence of his uncle. “He’s been there for me at every level I’ve played at, and it’s nice having a guy who understands because he’s been there at so many levels,” he told the Seattle Times.
Feeling blue: Famed for its blue turf, Boise State also owns a trademark that requires any school at any level of play that wishes to install an artificial turf field in any color but green to first receive permission from Boise State, according to ESPN. That would include Canyon High in New Braunfels, which plays on a red turf. Last month, Albertsons Stadium’s blue turf was ranked No. 1 on Athlon Sports’ 50 most significant college football developments of the past 50 years.
Boise State's schedule
|DATE||OPPONENT||LAST YR'S RESULT (IF PLAYED)|
|Sept. 9||at Washington St.||W, 31-28|
|Sept. 14||New Mexico*||W, 42-21|
|Oct. 6||at BYU||W, 28-27|
|Oct. 14||at San Diego St.*|
|Oct. 21||Wyoming*||L, 30-28|
|Oct. 28||at Utah State*||W, 21-10|
|Nov. 11||at Colorado State*||W, 28-23|
|Nov. 18||Air Force*||L, 27-20|
|Nov. 25||at Fresno State*|
|* Mountain West game|
The last 5 years
|YEAR||W-L (CONF.)||RANKING||BOWL GAME|
|TOTAL||50-16 (31-9)||3-2 in bowls|
|2012||11-2 (7-1)||24th/18th||W, Las Vegas|
|2013||8-5 (6-2)||19th/NR||L, Hawaii|
|2014||12-2 (7-1)||NR/16th||W, Fiesta|
|2015||9-4 (5-3)||23rd/NR||W, Poinsettia|
|2016||10-3 (6-2)||NR/NR||L, Cactus|
Note: Ranks are that year’s preseason/final rankings.
2016 NATIONAL TEAM STAT RANKS
Scoring: 38th (33.8 ppg)
Points allowed: 29th (23.3 ppg)
Passing: 15th (298.3 ypg)
Rushing: 63rd (174.5 ypg)
Total off.: 21st (472.8 ypg)
Total def.: 52nd (389.8 ypg)
OUR TOP 25 SO FAR
No. 25: Boise State
No. 24: Coming Thursday. Want a hint? This school produced NFL Hall of Famer Norm Van Brocklin.
1: Mountain West (25-Boise State)