Final pregame thoughts on Boise State vs. Southern Miss

Otto Kitsinger III - Getty Images

Thought No. 1: Where's the ceiling? Where's the floor?

Assuming last week's three-point win over New Mexico was a sign of things to come and not a swift kick in the pants on the way to total world domination, the Broncos are going to play more close games. Close games, as you may recall, can go either way and, more often than not, come down to field goals or fumbles or Bronco Mendenhall Big Decisions. How many close games can Boise State win this year? (Current record: 2-1.) How many opponents can make them pay for playing badly?

The answer to the latter is Fresno State (maybe) and Nevada, but if bad teams like New Mexico can keep it tight enough for a game-winning final drive, then who knows. The floor for Boise State could be four losses - to Michigan State (check), Fresno, Nevada, and a super upset when you least expect it. Fortunately, 8-4 still gets you into a bowl game and might even save you from a Vegas Bowl re-redux.

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The ceiling, of course, is the BCS. And after failing to find the end zone on offense in half of its games so far this year, defending Boise State in the BCS is going to be yeoman's work. Rules are rules, and if Boise State can get into the Top 16 with a BCS conference champ ranked lower, then they're in. But right now, there are more important things to worry about - like winless Southern Miss (really).

Thought No. 2: Fear not, says everyone.

Gone are the days when the Broncos would blow into town with a Top Ten ranking, locals would board up their old-timey shops and head for the hills, and opponents would pray for mercy. Now, opponents see Boise State as an opportunity for winning streaks.

"We've got to click as a team," senior receiver and return specialist Tracy Lampley said. "Once we get that, we'll be a very good team. We've still got time to turn this thing around and hopefully we can try to do it Saturday."

Previously, that quote would have gone something like this:

"We've got to click as a team - obviously not this week, though. Maybe next week, if we're all still alive. We've still got time to turn this thing around, but against Boise State? Pffft. As if. We're just trying to keep this one within a 40 burger. I've seen their tape, and it is glorious."

Boise State's relative decline this year has gone somewhat unnoticed by the national media. The blogging media, however, is not as oblivious. Matt Hinton, previously of Yahoo fame and currently of SB Nation and CBS Sports fame, wrote about the less-than-stellar 2012 that the Broncos are putting together.

For now, Boise is 3-1, but between this near-debacle (vs. New Mexico) and the offense's failure to score a touchdown against Michigan State or BYU, it's safe to say the top of the Mountain West is up for grabs. And for god's sake, stop ranking them.

The AP stopped ranking them. It had its reasons.

Thought No. 3: The Boise State defense returns from holiday.

Last week's 300-yard handout to the New Mexico Lobos might be as generous as this Bronco defense gets this season. The temptation would be to add "defense" to Boise State's long list of improvement areas, but slow your list-making roll. The defense is better than it showed last Saturday and should return to form once teams cease with the black magic of triple option and return to throwing the football and running normally. Just you see: Tomorrow's Southern Miss game is going to be a return to form for Boise State's defense. Remember the Miami (OH) game? Picture that, but more humid and sweaty.

Thought No. 4: Yup, still talking about Joe Southwick.

I'm not sure a week will go by this season where Joe Southwick will be anything less than a touchstone topic. This week, his name came up when Boise State quarterbacks coach Jonathan Smith spoke to the media for the first time all season. Among the standard "Joe's doing fine" and "Joe can improve" talk, there was this line:

"There's a ton of pressure on (Southwick)," Smith said. "He's getting it all over. He tells me all the time he goes to the supermarket and he's getting heckled."

Really? Heckling Joe Southwick at the supermarket? Which supermarket? Is it Winco? Joe should have better decision-making than to shop for produce at Winco - oh, there I go again.

Thought No. 5: Mommas, don't let your babies grow up to be football coaches.

Is it just me or does it seem like this football season is taking years off Chris Petersen's life?

This is Coach Pete in gif form (the scratchy hand is Boise State's 3-1 record).

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And now, a picture of Gabe Linehan

I found this while looking through US Presswire pictures in my OBNUG story writer program. I do not understand how this picture came to be.

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You're welcome, I guess.

Go Broncos.

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