As soon as the 2014 college football season came to an end when Ohio State top Oregon, the experts started rolling out their early top 25 rankings for the 2015 season. The top is as expected with TCU and Ohio State pegged as the top two teams, and then the SEC is sprinkled in with seven teams expected to be ranked.
Before we get to the average ranking from Boise State, so lets go publication by publication to see where the Broncos are expected to be ranked.
CBS Sports (No. 11)
The Broncos haven't gone anywhere under Bryan Harsin. There are still 17 other returning starters even with the loss of tailback Jay Ajayi to the draft.
ESPN (No. 20)
Why they might finish higher: After going 12-2 and beating Arizona 38-30 in the VIZIO Fiesta Bowl in coach Bryan Harsin's first season, the Broncos are the favorites to win the Mountain West and appear in another New Year's Six bowl in 2015. The Broncos are expected to bring back their entire starting offensive line, along with four other starters on offense and eight on defense.
Why they might finish lower: The Broncos will have to replace Hedrick and Ajayi, who is leaving for the NFL draft after running for 1,823 yards with 28 touchdowns this past season. Freshman Ryan Finley is the favorite to replace Hedrick, after he attempted 27 passes in 2014, but he might be pushed by incoming freshman Brett Rypien, who enrolled at Boise State this month. Rypien, from Spokane, Washington, chose the Broncos over scholarship offers from Washington, Washington State, Oregon State, Arizona State and Mississippi State. He is the nephew of former NFL quarterback Mark Rypien.
Fox Sports (No. 16)
While the Broncos lose their two most important offensive players, QB Grant Hedrick and RB Jay Ajayi, they bring back just about everyone else. According to the Idaho Statesman, that includes 33 of the 34 linemen on their 2014 roster. Bryan Harsin's Broncos aren't quite back to their 2008-11 heyday but they're getting closer.
247Sports (No. 22)
There's some reloading to be done, sure, but the Broncos are a top-25 regular. Former coach Chris Petersen brings Washington to the blue turf in the season opener.
USA TODAY (No. 16)
Why No. 16? Because Boise State is the class of the Mountain West Conference. While there are two significant holes to fill, at quarterback and running back, the Broncos should not only win their conference but also claim the top spot among non-major conferences in the push for a New Year's bowl. Even as a few personnel questions loom large, it's easy to have the utmost faith in Bryan Harsin and his staff, led by in-demand offensive coordinator Mike Sanford. Whether the Broncos can squeeze into the Playoff picture hinges on non-conference games against Washington, Brigham Young and Virginia.
The Broncos have to replace QB Grant Hedrick and productive tailback Jay Ajayi, but there's no reason to think they won't be the class of the Group of Five once again in 2015. Most of the defense returns, as does the entire offensive line, to form a good foundation for coach Bryan Harsin and company.
Athlon Sports (NR)
The Broncos have some holes to fill on both sides of the ball, but coach Bryan Harsin's team will be in the mix for the Mountain West title (and a top 25 spot) in 2015. The biggest losses are on offense with the departure of quarterback Grant Hedrick and running back Jay Ajayi.
Here are the composite rankings put together by SB Nation.
- Ohio State
- Florida State
- Michigan State
- Ole Miss
- Arizona State
- Notre Dame
- Boise State
- Georgia Tech
- Mississippi State