The off-season has started to bring many projections and preview articles all over the internet, as experts and analysts attempt to predict what will happen during the 2018 season. Thus far, many have projected Boise State to be the top team in the Group of 5 and secure a spot in a NY6 Bowl game. However, there have been times they have gotten in their own way over the year. Do they play in a NY6 bowl this season? Bonus question: do they go undefeated while doing it?
Jeremy: I’m going to say no. Boise State leads all active Group of 5 schools in major bowl appearances in the modern era (BCS-present). In the Mountain West, Hawaii is the only other program that has made it to a major bowl game. Boise State’s 2014 visit to the Fiesta Bowl is the Mountain West’s only NY6 bid winner since this new format began. The Broncos went 11-2 in the regular season, and are since the only 2-loss team to win the NY6 bid. That’s an important detail to this question. Boise State is and deserves to be the Mountain West favorite. That doesn’t mean a NY6 appearance is likely. Recent history suggests a 0-1 loss season is required for a major bowl appearance, and Boise State hasn’t had one of those seasons since 2011. Granted, a schedule featuring Troy, Oklahoma State, San Diego State, Fresno State, etc. should boost the strength of schedule numbers, but until proven otherwise I just can’t see a Bryan Harsin team finishing with 0-1 losses. If Boise State does go to a NY6 bid, it not only means they won the Mountain West. It also means the American Athletic had a down year.
My plain answer the question: no. I think Boise State wins the Mountain West with a 10-3/11-2 type record, thanks to a favorable conference slate, but doesn’t do enough to play in January. To be honest, just winning the conference again would be a positive season. The Broncos have not done well under Harsin in seasons where expectations were high (see 2015 and 2016 campaigns).
Matt: No. They have to get through Troy, Oklahoma State, SDSU, Fresno State, and Air Force/CSU. There’s too high of a chance that another G5 team finishes with 1 loss or 0, which means Boise has 0 margin for error in their schedule. While they do return a senior QB and good defense, they might be one or two pieces short of a NY6 run. They’ll be the conference favorite, again, but conference favorite does not a NY6 bowl make. There’s also the very real chance Boise starts out the season 1-2, losing to Troy and OK State. Troy was close last year, and won 11 games. And even without Mason Rudolph and James Washington, OK State will be really hard to upset in Stillwater. Especially playing both teams on the road, there’s a good chance Boise goes into conference play at or below .500. That would create an extremely hard road to a NY6 game, and would require carnage around the rest of the G5
Zach: The odds are no. If you are looking at the facts, there are a lot of teams and only one spot. Do I think Boise State has the most talented Group of 5 team? Yes. This is a huge year for the Broncos, they have dominated the rest of the G5 in recruiting for the last few years. However, if you told me to pick one G5 team that plays in a NY6 game, I would say the Broncos. They have a favorable schedule outside of the Oklahoma State game and there isn’t another G5 team that will be able to match them. If the Broncos go at least 11-1 they are in. I think we are giving teams like Troy too much credit. Boise State should be able to manage going 3-1 outside of the conference and the conference schedule sets up favorably with the toughest games at home.
Since 2009, the Broncos have always found a way to lose at least one game they have no business losing. Until they buck that trend, it’s hard to answer this question with a yes. However, I do think the Broncos have a better chance than any other G5 team.
Grant: While Boise State has the best chance of any Mountain West team to clinch a NY6 bowl, I don’t think they will. The reality is that other Group of 5 teams are either stronger or have an easier road ahead of them. USF has a pretty manageable schedule, and it’s possible that we could see them as undefeated champions of the AAC at the end of the year. If USF doesn’t perform then UCF will still be strong despite Scott Frost’s departure, and if the AAC has an off year for some reason then there is always Florida Atlantic. Ultimately I think USF and FAU will be undefeated or 1 loss teams at the end of the year, and will beat the Broncos out for a January bowl game.
Mike: I’ll start out with a few things I’m more confident saying and see where I end up by the end of this. Boise State on paper looks to be the best Group of Five team. However, we know the best team on paper does not always become the best team in real life. They return pretty much their entire defense, which should be one of the best in the country and return their QB and WR duo, along with an offense line that will be full of staring experience. Due to all of this, I’m comfortable saying they will play in the Mountain West Championship again and win.
Now we will dive into a few less confident points. I highly doubt the Broncos finish the year undefeated. They have a touch game against Oklahoma State, and until proven otherwise, will have one random conference loss a year. 1-2 losses is a very likely scenario and due to this, they will not control their own destiny when it comes to playing in a NY6 Bowl. But, the last time they went to a major bowl, it was with 2 losses, so there is a precedent set. Plus, the committee seems to favor Boise State in the rankings when they have a similar record to other Group of Five teams.
Let’s say this. If Boise State finishes with one loss, they will once again play in a big bowl. If they have 2 and win their conference, they won’t be selected. I’ll go on record saying they do play in a NY6, but I’ll cover myself a bit saying I’m making this claim with a confidence level of about 50.01%.
Duane: I like Boise State’s chances if they take care of their other business and can find a way to defeat Oklahoma State on September 15th. Otherwise the Broncos and the Mountain West have no legitimate chance. San Diego State would have to beat Stanford and Arizona State, Fresno State has to beat Minnesota and UCLA, Colorado State has to beat Colorado, Arkansas and Florida. Even the next tier of teams have difficult games (UNLV vs. USC, Nevada vs. Vanderbilt and Oregon State, New Mexico at Wisconsin, Air Force at Florida Atlantic and home versus Navy). Boise State has the biggest name, but if they come out of September with even one loss, the Mountain West chances of an impactful New Year’s Day bowl game is zero.