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Boise State: Primed for a title run?

Scott Haynes, College Football Senior Editor

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - In 1997, the IBM computer dubbed "Deep Blue" knocked off world champion chess player Garry Kasparov and in turn struck a blow to computer gurus everywhere. In 2010, the boys that play on the blue turf in Idaho, may just take home a championship of their own, and in turn, change the landscape of major college football.

There is little doubt that Boise State will begin the 2010 campaign ranked in the top-five. The Broncos certainly deserve that distinction, returning just about everyone from a team that ran the table a year ago (14-0). The squad has run roughshod over the league, cruising to three undefeated WAC seasons in the last six years, and has won two Fiesta Bowls as well.

The 2007 Fiesta Bowl put the Broncos on the map, as they stunned the Oklahoma Sooners with a last-second gadget play to pull off a huge upset. The team hasn't looked back since.

All that has transpired over the past few campaigns can be called prep work for what could be a trend-setting season in college football.

Teams from non-BCS conferences have been clamoring for recognition and each year, one or two teams flirt with busting the BCS bubble, only to fall short of that goal. This year could be is different however, and all the stars are aligning for what could be a truly magical season in Boise.

Kellen Moore is 26-1 as a starter and simply knows how to win.
The schedule is favorable, with only a couple of potential roadblocks along the way. The first and undoubtedly toughest challenge will come in the season-opener, as BSU will travel east to battle Virginia Tech at FedEx Field in Washington, D.C. The Hokies have a Heisman candidate in their backfield and are always stingy on the defensive side of the ball. A home date with Oregon State a couple of weeks later is the other game that could pose a problem. However, the Broncos are very tough to beat on the blue turf and will be focused, considering the WAC schedule after that is likely all that stands between them and a spot in the BCS title game.

One of the nation's most productive offenses returns all 11 starters from a year ago, none more important than QB Kellen Moore. The savvy signal-caller may not have quintessential size (6-0, 187) or classic arm strength, but he is 26-1 as a starter and simply knows how to win. His numbers last year were impressive, throwing for 3,536 yards and 39 TDs, with just three INTs and finishing with a 161.65 passer rating (second nationally).

There is plenty of supporting offensive talent, including tailbacks Jeremy Avery (1,150 yards, six TDs), Doug Martin (765 yards, 15 TDs) and D.J. Harper (injured after three games last year, but averaged 6.5 ypc), as well as wideouts Titus Young (79 receptions, 1,041 yards, 10 TDs) and Austin Pettis (63 receptions, 855 yards, 14 TDs). The result of all that production, was a ranking among the nation's best in scoring (first at 42.2 ppg) and total offense (10th at 450.3 ypg).

While the offense is traditionally the side of the ball that has received the most attention in Boise, the BSU defense is not exactly devoid of talent, headlined by veterans Jeron Johnson (senior DB), Ryan Winterswyk (senior DE) and Billy Winn (junior DT).

The recent success has definitely helped in terms of recruiting as well, including the team landing the Montana State High School Player of the Year in Matt Miller. At 6-3 and 205 pounds, Miller may see significant action as a freshman in the receiving corps, but was also a star safety at the high school level.

The final piece to the puzzle is head coach Chris Petersen, who signed a five-year contract extension. A hot commodity in coaching circles, Petersen decided to remain in Boise and stay in the WAC, where incentives in his new contract will be much easier to achieve.

Everything seems to be pointing toward Boise State taking another step forward this season, one that could land the Broncos in extremely rare company, taking on an opponent with the national championship on the line.

The only thing standing in the way, outside of those battles with Virginia Tech and Oregon State, could be the enormous weight from carrying the banner for non-BCS programs across the nation.

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Scott Haynes at shaynes@sportsnetwork.com.

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