LAS VEGAS, NV - DECEMBER 22: The Boise State Broncos mascot Buster Bronco appears on the field during the MAACO Bowl Las Vegas against the Arizona State Sun Devils at Sam Boyd Stadium December 22, 2011 in Las Vegas, Nevada. Boise State won 56-24. (Photo by Ethan Miller/Getty Images)
With the football season starting to feel reasonably close, it's time to check in with MSU's upcoming opponents. Over the next few weeks, we'll have a short Q&A with a blogger from each opposing school. First up: Boise State. Kevan Lee of the fine BSU blog One Bronco Nation Under God was gracious enough to answer a few questions about the Broncos, and what the folks in Idaho know about the state of Michigan.
But first, here's a very cool hype video for the game made by SBN user Tim Gross.
1. Boise State has knocked off some giants to open the past few seasons, including Oregon, Virginia Tech and Georgia. What makes the Broncos so good in those opening games? Is it simply great game-planning from Chris Peterson? Is Boise just the better team? A mix of both?
You're right in suggesting that the advantage of extra prep time for Coach Pete and crew makes a difference. The talent level of the Broncos in years past has certainly helped, too. Those may be the only real factors in Boise State's success in big-time openers the past few years, and if so, then they will still have half of those advantages against Michigan State. Coach Pete will still be gameplanning, but the talent level won't be what it was in years past.
I'll take things one further, though, and say that the unique nature of a season opener gives Boise State another advantage. There is a reason why the non-conference schedule comes first and why teams schedule cupcakes for openers. The first game of the season levels the playing field. It's like playing in the elements. For disciplined, well-coached teams like Boise State, openers are a positive. For other teams, not so much. Georgia had no idea what hit them last year, but if you had given them a couple months to figure things out, the outcome might have been different.
2. The Broncos have lost so much from last season's team. Who are some new players to watch for?
S Lee Hightower - He played emergency cornerback as a true freshman last year, but his purpose in life is safety. He's a big hitter with coverage skills.
WR Matt Miller - He should pick up all the yards and touchdowns that Tyler Shoemaker left behind, which will give him a lot of yards and touchdowns because he got tons of both last year on his own.
LB Blake Renaud - He is a wrecking ball of a linebacker who has a nose for the ball and a knack for being in the right place at the right time.
3. You guys have contended for the BCS for most of the past seven years. What are reasonable expectations for Boise State this season?
You may need to ask someone more objective than I am if you want a reasonable expectation. I think another BCS trip is reasonable. Boise State has to get past Michigan State and survive two or three other tricky games, and they'll be undefeated and golden. I think a BCS shot is entirely possible even with a loss to Michigan State.
For sure, Bronco Nation expects a conference championship out of this year's team. The closest competition is Nevada, but they are such a distant No. 2 that the Broncos should be unanimous preseason favorites.
Anything more than three losses will be the apocalypse.
4. There has been so much conference reshuffling in recent years. The upcoming playoff could slow down realignment a bit, or it might not. Do you think Boise State will stay in the Big East for many years? Will we move to four superconferences and Boise ends up in the Pac-whatever? Do outsiders hate the stability (and arrogance) of the Big Ten?
I don't get the feeling that Boise State is endeared to the Big East, so I would predict that the Broncos will bolt should a better opportunity come around. They made the move solely for access to the best bowls and the money that comes with it. If there is another way to get there (especially once the Big East becomes a mid-major), Boise State will jump. Two years ago, the Mountain West felt like the promised land, too.
To be honest with you, I'm not sure Boise State fans have much respect for the Big Ten. It probably is due to the fact that they associate the Big Ten with Ohio State, and Ohio State, in the minds of Bronco Nation, is overrated and boring and corrupt. BSU fans respect Michigan State, don't get me wrong. The Big Ten, though, they could take it or leave it.
5. How much do you know about Michigan? (The state, not that other school)
I know that it has this weird little dongle above Wisconsin.
I know you can drive under a tunnel through Canada or something weird like that.
There's a Robocop statue somewhere.
And ... that's about it. Seems like a fun place to visit, like a foreign country almost. I don't get out much.
Thanks again to Kevan for answering a few questions. We'll check back in with the Broncos during game week. Until then, be sure to check out OBNUG for all your Boise State info.