ATLANTA, GA - SEPTEMBER 03: Branden Smith #1 of the Georgia Bulldogs is called for a facemask while tackling D.J. Harper #7 of the Boise State Broncos at Georgia Dome on September 3, 2011 in Atlanta, Georgia. (Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images)
As part of yesterday's Boise State Day at Athlon Sports - which celebrated the Broncos being ranked No. 24 in Athlon's preseason Top 25 - the Athlon brain trust offered up predictions on the 2012 Boise State football team. And now it's our turn. I took a stab at out-predicting Athlon's predictions below. Stab for yourself in the comments.
Offensive MVP: WR Matt Miller. Though we don't know who will be throwing Miller the ball (yes we do - it's Kellen Moore disguised as Kirby Moore!), I believe that the sophomore wideout will have a sensational season in a high-flying, prolific Boise State offense. The alternative is that D.J. Harper will carry the Bronco offense and be the MVP, but a one dimensional offense may not mean great things for Boise State. And I want great things for Boise State! I'm selfish.
Athlon's Offensive MVP: RB D.J. Harper
Trap game: Miami (OH). The Redhawks will be in Bronco Stadium the week before a highly anticipated game against BYU and two weeks after Boise State has either licked its wounds or popped the bubbly against Michigan State. This game reeks of a UC Davis redux.
Athlon's trap game: BYU
Upset alert: BYU. The best time of year to get the Broncos will be early on, and the Zoobs hit town for Joe Southwick's, er, Nick Patti's, er, Boise State's third game. The Cougars could be a fringe preseason Top 25 team, so they have the talent to hang with a Bronco team that is still finding its legs (Hint: its legs are mostly on NFL rosters).
Athlon's upset alert: at Southern Miss
Unsung hero: OG Joe Kellogg. Or you could pretty much fill in the blank with any lineman. Except Charles Leno. He's so hot right now.
Athlon's unsung hero: DT Michael Atkinson
Biggest game: at Nevada. I was tempted to go with Michigan State here, but I think that the Broncos will still have all there postseason possibilities available win or lose against the Spartans. Going back to Reno, though - now that means something. I hear something bad happened there a couple years ago. Also, a conference title could be on the line.
Athlon's biggest game: Nevada
Freshman to watch: RB Jack Fields. Fields or fellow incoming freshman RB Devan Demas could see playing time this fall as Boise State's No. 3 back and, in the instance of D.J. Harper's rebuilt knee ligament throwing its hands in the air and saying, "That's enough football for me," Boise State's No. 2.
Athlon's freshman to watch: QB Nick Patti
Comeback player: CB Jerrell Gavins. Gavins was destined for all-conference and maybe even All-America status before his knee injury early last season. He will be back with a vengeance, like Bruce Willis in Die Hard except instead of dying hard, he'll be covering hard.
Athlon's comeback player: Gavins
Defensive MVP: LB Blake Renaud. Given what I saw of Renaud in the spring scrimmage and considering how long Boise State has waited for an all-conference linebacker to dominate games, Renaud is my pick for MVP. The Bronco corners will be excellent, and Lee Hightower will make more than one opposing wide receiver wish he was never born. But Renaud is my pick.
Athlon's defensive MVP: CB Jamar Taylor
Season-defining moment: End of Fall Camp. Presumably, this will be when Boise State names its starting quarterback, and what will define BSU's season more than that?
Season-defining moment: Week One at Michigan State
Newcomer to watch: DE Demarcus Lawrence. The Broncos will need to get production out of their revamped defensive line, and Lawrence should step right in and fill some of the gaping void at end. I predict a 10-sack season ... and churros in every concession stand! (A guy can dream, right?)
Athlon's newcomer to watch: Jeremy Ioane
What are your predictions for Boise State's 2012 season? Do you agree or disagree with Athlon's take? Share your thoughts in the comments.