Who will be the tougher opponent: San Diego State or Hawaii?

ANN ARBOR, MI - SEPTEMBER 24: San Diego State's head coach Rocky Long watches the action on the field during the game against the Michigan Wolverines at Michigan Stadium on September 24, 2011 in Ann Arbor, Michigan. Michigan defeated San Diego 28-7. (Photo by Leon Halip/Getty Images)

With two weeks to go until real, live football, I thought I should maybe get around to previewing Boise State's 2012 opponents. Here are some now. They are not as good as Michigan State.

At various times, San Diego State and Hawaii would have represented the most challenging offenses on the Broncos' schedule. This year will still be a challenge, but maybe more like a speed drill than a SAT. With changes to the coaching staff (Hawaii) and changes to personnel (SDSU), these two teams will look and feel different when Boise State comes calling. Which one will be tougher? Vote in the poll and leave a comment telling me which one you think.

Three reasons why San Diego State will be a tough opponent

1. Transfer city

To replace offensive talent like Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman, the Aztecs turned to the castoffs of the Pac-12. Former Oregon State starting quarterback Ryan Katz will be quarterbacking in San Diego this fall, and former USC wide receiver Brice Butler will be catching Katz's passes. Guns for hire? Apparently so, says the title of my 2019 book on the fall of amateurism in college sports.

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2. Rocky Long still knows how to coach a good defense

His confusing 3-3-5 will be the bread and butter for the SDSU team this fall, and with Boise State breaking in a new quarterback whose brain is smaller than Kellen Moore's, Long's D could cause trouble. Plus, add to that the fact that CB Leon McFadden - the MW's preseason defensive player of the year - can lock down an entire side of the field, and Southwick et al will have their hands full with game prep.

3. Gavin Escobar is a problem

The Aztec tight end was the lone bright spot in the Aztec passing game last fall against the Broncos, finishing with 8 catches, 100 yards, and two scores. That was with a Bronco D that had six or seven pros on it, so who knows where to set the ceiling with Escobar v. Newbies this season.

***

Three reasons why Hawaii will be a tough opponent

1. Joey Iosefa

Hawaii's 240-pound running back is the offense's best weapon - on the ground, through the air, and in the Wildcat. A former high school quarterback, Iosefa has multifaceted written all over him (in invisible ink, otherwise that would look weird), and if Hawaii's O-line blocks even a little for him, he could have a big year.

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2. Norm Chow

This offseason, the Warriors cut ties with Coca-Cola-loving Greg McMackin and brought in Hawaii hometown hero Norm Chow as the new head coach. You may remember Chow's name from the times he led the USC offense of Matt Leinart and Reggie Bush to national championships, er, "national championships." That was almost 10 years ago, which I point out to make you feel old and to say that Chow's offensive wizardry has seen better days.

Still, Chow knows what he's doing when it comes to coaching football, and his emphasis on the running game instead of the passing game will be a good decision for a Hawaii team short on quarterback experience and bad at protecting the quarterback. Joey Iosefa or bust.

3. John Hardy-Tuilau and Mike Edwards

The Hawaii safety-corner tandem forced a combined seven turnovers and broke up 22 passes last year. They are back for more in 2012 with new defensive coordinator and former Jaguars DBs coach Thom Kaumeyer as their sensei. Expect bigger and better stats.

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