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The Prediction: Boise State

The UWDP team unveils their picks for tomorrow’s Husky season opener

NCAA Football: Las Vegas Bowl-Boise State vs Washington Stephen R. Sylvanie-USA TODAY Sports

Andrew Berg

I wrote earlier this week in my Picking the Pac post that it’s easy to think of Nevada as the team that played at or near the top of the MWC for the last two decades rather than the more recent version that lost a coach to Colorado State and won two games last season. If you’re not paying attention, you could make a similar mistake about Boise State. The Broncos haven’t been bad, but have gone 5-2, -5, and 10-4 under Andy Avalos. They haven’t finished a season ranked since 2019 under Bryan Harsin and haven’t finished in the top 20 since Harsin’s first year in 2014. In other words, the Broncos are a decade removed from being a top 20 team after living in the top 10 under Chris Petersen. It’s appropriate to respect them, but the level of fear is not what it once was.

Washington’s CFP hopes this year obviously revolve around Michael Penix and the offense. Avalos is a defensive coach and has a reputation for creative schemes. That reputation sets off alarm bells in Week 1 with a singular focus on one opponent. On the other hand, most of the Broncos’ starting defense will be players who were backups or rotational parts of last season’s 15th ranked scoring defense. Even if there’s a good scheme, Boise will not have DBs who can keep up with Rome Odunze and Jalen McMillan. Unless the unproven interior OL really struggles with DT Herbert Gums (succumbs to Gums!), it’s hard to envision a UW output under 30 points, and 40 is well within the realm of possibility.

The bigger area of concern for UW is obviously the defense. The Dawgs rearranged and revamped the secondary after struggling mightily to make plays in pass defense. That part of the team won’t face as much of a test against Boise’s run-first approach. Taylen Green is a dual-threat QB with an emphasis on the running element. George Holani is a steady, productive RB who tallied over 1,100 yards last year. The defensive key will be Washington’s interior DL and LBs. Tuli Letuigasenoa, Faatui Tuitele, Ulumoo Ale, and Jacob Bandes have to get consistent push in the middle. Eddie Ulofoshio and Alpohnzo Tuputala must find the right gaps and tackle cleanly. If they can make a few stops behind the line of scrimmage and take Green off schedule, it should give the offense enough breathing room. Based on the talent level and the time in the program, this sort of production is possible. We didn’t see it consistently last year, but there’s no better time to turn that corner than Week 1.

Washington- 38, Boise State- 24


Mark Schafer

We’re back! After a long offseason it’s finally time for football! The Huskies are starting out this season with a better opponent than Kent State last year, with Boise State being runner up in the Mountain West last year. And Boise State is coming off a dramatic season last year. New offensive coordinator Bush Hamdan will bring stability to the offense led by quarterback Talen Green, the electric dual threat. Boise also brings a very strong running back room, finishing 18th in the nation last year. It’s not a cupcake game by any means but I do think that the Dawgs have enough talent, especially on offense that they will prevail over the Broncos.

I am confident in the pass game that the Huskies will be able to do well against the Broncos secondary, who have a bevy of new starters. Where I am less confident is in the run game, and the run defense. Any time you lose someone with double digits touchdowns the year before it’s a big loss. Also his versatility will be a tough thing to replace. However, I am excited to see Dillon Johnson’s fit in the offense, and Germie Bernard. I think we’ll get enough pressure on the edge to frustrate Green and make him run, but we might have trouble containing him. The offense will hold up and be fun and explosive like last year and the defense will keep the Broncos contained just enough for the Dawgs to eventually pull away at the end.

Washington- 45, Boise State- 28


Iyo Stephensbailey

It’s fairly simple: this will be a complete and utter destruction of this MW team. You see, what drives me to say this is the confidence this team has. What do I mean? Well, if you remember Chris Petersen was always extremely humble, pulling his starters against teams like Rutgers barely into the third quarter. We win 45-20 in a lackluster game that could’ve seen 60 points being scored. This team is different and the coaches are ready to rally behind a Heisman performance for Penix. I don’t believe they show any mercy here.

Washington- 52, Boise State- 13


Collin O’Meara

I don’t think I’m alone in worrying that the 2023 Huskies may regress a bit toward the mean, after having such a high-flying season last year. But that’s based only in superstition, not on evidence. If UW handles Boise State convincingly it will do much to calm my nerves, even though one game is only one game. I’m very interested in what our kicking game looks like: PKs, kickoffs, punts — all of it. Whatever state that phase of the game is in it should show on Saturday.

The Huskies are the highest-profile team on the Broncos schedule this year and I bet they’ll be up for it big time. Also the Broncos have never won at Husky stadium — Chris Petersen brought his Broncos to Montlake twice and left empty-handed. Maybe there’s some kind of blue kryptonite in the ground in Montlake.

I still have trauma from the Montana game two years ago, and how badly expectations can go wrong, so it is with trepidation that I make any prediction of the score in this Week 1 contest. But the offense seems poised for juggernaut status in the second year of Penix-Grubb-DeBoer and this stellar receiver crew. It wouldn’t shock me to see a 75-yd TD pass on the first play, or at least attempting it.

Washington- 40, Boise State- 28


Gabey Lucas

First thing’s first, two things are true: Yes, Pete and Bush Hamdan’s pre-snap motions were overcomplicated and prevented many talented Washington skill players from being able to just full send with their athleticism. And yet (here’s the second thing) I’m fully expecting some of these motions to mess with the Washington secondary. So for UW defensively that’s kinda the first of three things I’m paying attention to along with:

A) Boise’s running backs are those short stockey kinda MFers who are always hard to tackle if smart angles and fundamentally sound tackling aren’t second-nature for a defense. Which, unfortunately for Washington, those weren’t last season, especially the tackling. Tomorrow will be a litmus test for a few things, and that’s a big one.

And B) Green at quarterback will be a good test of the discipline particularly of the edge guys behind ZTF and Bralen Trice, especially if the units behind them don’t have their angles down and tackling fundamentals improved in which case you’ll get damaged even worse by losing contain. Really I just want to see the edge rotation with their crap together. That means not biting at the option — DON’T I SEE YOU WANTING TO MAKE THE BIG PLAY *cat spray bottle* psst stop that stop it no. If the outside doesn’t get greedy and has the discipline to consistently remind themselves they have a supremely unsexy job against this dual-threat, I think Boise will have an pretty rough time of it. If they _don’t_... I think Washington will have an even worse rough time. I mean, I can’t blame them really, it really is unsexy and takes so much discipline to see a straight shot to the quarterback and not try to take off after him. It’s like when your cat sees a rabbit bolt they’re not gonna just _not_ tear after it.

Otherwise for Washington’s offense, I think the first few drives will tell us a lot about the new interior OL in a similar way to how the first few defensive drives will enlighten us on those defensive possibilities to either get better or... not... from last year. Except for in this case it’s really just seeing if the line can hold that same standard vs improving upon it.

Particularly critical not just for this game but season will be the center’s pre-snap ability to identify the defense and for the whole interior to execute on those diagnoses. I mean, duh. But it’s impossible not to mention it because within a few drives against Boise we’ll know if the season-long ceiling and floor are even higher than last year or if we’re gonna have some unexpected and unwelcome bumps along the way. I am cautiously optimistic though, given Matteo Mele’s pretty noteworthy and positive experience along the line including at center, which you so rarely get in a new starter these days.

Washington- 38, Boise State- 30


Max Vrooman

This is a game that I could see going a couple of different ways very easily. Boise State is certainly not a pushover. The Mountain West hasn’t had much in the way of national powers in recent years but Boise looks like they will once again be the class of the conference in 2023. That success will largely be built on the back of a very talented run game.

Washington had particular trouble last season with big, mobile quarterbacks and were burned many times by a Husky rusher getting too far upfield, only getting a piece of the QB, and them easily scrambling for a 1st down. Boise QB Taylen Green can do that and more as he had multiple TD runs of 50+ yards last year at 6’6. Washington’s defense has to try to contain in the pocket and keep Green from escaping with his giant strides.

The Husky secondary may have struggled last year but it’s still worth taking a chance against Boise’s passing game. Green threw for just 7.4 YPA last year and per Pro Football Focus had a 4.6% turnover worthy play rate. Michael Penix was at 1.3% for context. Green didn’t get punished as defenders dropped several potential picks. 6’4 WR Eric McAlister was dangerous as a go ball deep threat in limited usage but otherwise none of the receivers are scary.

That’s in contrast to a running back group with multiple weapons. Veteran George Holani has multiple 1,000+ yard seasons to his name while Ashton Jeanty ran for 800+ yards as a true freshman last year. Expect Boise to keep it on the ground as much as possible and to grind out first downs.

We’ll see whether Boise can stop the Huskies though when they have the ball. Much is made about Boise’s remade secondary but every projected starter has a year of at least being a heavy reserve for the Broncos. It’s an experienced group even if it lost some starters from last season.

If Washington gets out to a hot start like they did many times last year, with touchdowns on the first 3+ drives, then things could get out of hand. Boise’s offense isn’t built to come back with a heavy quick strike passing game. Should the Huskies ever get up by 3 touchdowns then it’s hard to see how Boise catches up.

On the other hand if UW starts slow then Boise will be able to shrink the clock with their running game and the new clock rules (no stoppage on a 1st down) which will keep things uncomfortably close.

While I hope for the former, I’m going to expect the latter as Washington takes a little while to fully find their stride with 3 new members of the OL and Boise’s running game getting the Broncos repeatedly into the red zone on long drives.

Washington- 30, Boise State- 23



Straight Up: Washington- 6, Boise State- 0

Against the Spread (UW -14): Washington- 2, Boise State- 3, Push (Lame)- 1

Average Score: Washington- 40.5, Boise State- 24.3