The wait is over, and for the first time since a November 26 loss to San Diego State, the Boise State Broncos will take the field this Saturday against the Oregon State Beavers of the Pac 12. The offseason has been long, the anticipation has been growing, and finally, college football is back for the most beloved team in the state of Idaho. Last season didn't go the way that the Bronco faithful is used to, but this weekend marks a new season and a chance at redemption for last year. Many of the same players are back, and their journey to regain their crown as the king of the Mountain West, and the premier nonpower 5 football program, begins this weekend, and it starts in Corvallis, Oregon.

Recap of the Last Boise State Game:

Bowling Green v Boise State
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The Boise State Broncos last played the day after Thanksgiving against the San Diego State Aztecs, in a game that they lost 27 to 16. The Broncos jumped out to an early lead of 7-0 after quarterback Hank Bachmeier connected on a 20-yard touchdown pass to Kurt Rafdal. The Broncos would extend their lead to 16-3 halfway through the second quarter, but they would not score again for the rest of the game or season. The Aztecs would put up 24 unanswered points, and win the game, also ending the Bronco's season, even though they didn't know it at the time. The Broncos were set to play in the Arizona Bowl on December 31, against Central Michigan, but a few days before the game, were forced to pull out due to COVID protocol, thus ending their season.

Know Your Opponent: Oregon State Beavers:

Ethan Miller
Ethan Miller
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The Oregon State Beavers are coming off their first winning season since 2013, finishing 7-6 last year. They finished their season with two losses in a row, losing to Oregon in their regular season finale, 38 to 29, and losing in the LA Bowl to Utah State 24 to 13. Let it be known, that Boise State beat the same Utah State team earlier last season, 27 to 3. Oregon State returns their starting quarterback from a year ago, Junior Chance Nolan, who threw for 19 touchdowns a year ago and ran for another three more. Gone is the Beaver's leading rusher from a year ago, BJ Baylor, but their second-leading rusher, Trey Lowe returns. Three of the top five wide receivers from a year ago are gone via the transfer portal or to the NFL, as well as their leading receiver from a year ago, Trevon Bradford. Tre'shaun Harrison, their second receiver from a year ago is back, as well as starting tight end Luke Musgrave.

Las Vegas Bowl - Boise State v Oregon
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Defensively, the Beavers will need to replace the bulk of their linebacker core, with leading tackler Avery Roberts having run out of eligibility. The entire secondary returns, as well as four of the top six tacklers from a year ago. The defense recorded 15 interceptions a year ago, but was middle of the road in FBS, ranking 61 in points per game, giving up an average of 25.8 points in 2021.

Who to Watch for Boise State:

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While most will have their eyes on senior quarterback Hank Bachmeier, the person to watch in this game is safety JL Skinner. He lead the team a year ago in tackles, recorded two forced fumbles, and had two interceptions as well. He is a player that will be playing in the NFL next year and could be a first-round or second-round draft pick this coming spring. With his long 6'4 frame he is a nightmare for opposing offenses to deal with. Watch Skinner and you are in for a treat this Saturday.

Who to Watch for Oregon State:

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For Oregon State, it may seem obvious but it all starts with junior quarterback Chance Nolan. While the majority of the receiving core may be gone from a year ago, his safety blanket and tight end, Luke Musgrove should cause some mismatches with his 6'6 frame. Nolan also can get it done with his feet, having rushed for almost 300 yards a season ago, three touchdowns, and averaged 4.1 yards per carry. If Nolan can control the game and move the ball on the Bronco defense, Oregon State will have a good chance to start the season off with a win.

3 Keys to the Game:

For the Broncos to pull off the win this weekend and start the season 1-0 they will need to accomplish these three keys to the game:

1) Survive the First Half

Credit: Ellyn Felton
Credit: Ellyn Felton
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Playing on the road in a hostile environment is never easy, especially against a power 5 program. Expectations are high for Oregon State after having their first winning season since 2013, and fans are excited to see the encore. It has been nearly nine months since the Broncos last played a game, and it will take time to shake off the rust as well as handle the environment. Keep the first half close, and the second half should be more fluent and less rocky.

2) Limit Big Plays

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With everyone being amped up, nerves are to be expected and assignments will be missed. With an experienced defense, Boise State should be able to control the Oregon State offense, but one big play can lead to another, and the more the crowd gets into the game, the tougher the game gets. Nothing excites a fan base like a long touchdown. This is an experienced, talented defense and they should be able to get stops and control their emotions, but it has been a long offseason.

3) Get Back to Boise State Football

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Boise State has built its reputation for going on the road, playing power 5 programs, and winning games like these. Last year didn't go according to the script, but this is a new season and their first chance to show they are still a dominant force, and the standard for all nonpower 5 football programs. Play tough, hard-nosed defense, take care of the ball, and Boise State should be able to hang with the Beavers. The game is nationally televised and this is their chance to use the national stage, which they often thrive in.

Prediction:

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Building up to the game, this has been a toss-up. Oregon State returns some experience, their crowd will be hot, they are coming off a successful season, and weird things happen in Corvallis at night. Boise State is one of the most experienced teams in the county but comes off of a disappointing season by their standards. It is a coin flip game and will be tougher than most expect, but I have Boise State pulling it out due to their experienced defense. Oregon State will be able to move the ball but will struggle to score. Boise State 31 Oregon State 20

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It is almost game time, and after a long offseason, the wait is over. ESPN at 8:30 PM this Saturday we will all be waiting and watching as the Broncos look to start the season off right and add another win to their long list against Power 5 opponents. Get the popcorn ready, turn off your phones, and put on the blue and orange as the season kicks off in Corvallis, Oregon this Saturday. 

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