Boise State is nothing if not a trendsetter, so in this season of "out with the old, in with the new", the Broncos have decided to instead say "out with the new, and in with the old" and rejoin a conference that—technically speaking—they never left. So, 2013 won't bring as many changes as we may have hoped, but after poring through the manuscripts of Nostradamus and Carnac the Magnificent, I stumbled on a few sage predictions for 2013—all of which I heartily endorse.
1) Stopping the run will be back in fashion
Though the Broncos finished the regular season in the top ten in total defense, they were all the way back at 39th in rush defense—a ranking that couldn't have been helped by allowing UW's Bishop Sankey to gain 205 yards on the ground in the bowl game. It was decidedly un-Broncolike to see the Broncos let Le'Veon Bell off the hook time and again, and when teams like New Mexico rolled up over 300 yards on the ground it seemed the 2012 D had a small chink in their armor. It may seem counterintuitive, but 2013 should mark a return to the shut down rush D of the past. The linebackers will be bigger across the board, and the rush D will be a focus in the offseason.
2) Points per game creep closer to the Bronco stratosphere
While scoring has trended up nationally in the last few years, the Broncos had a rare down year in 2012, seeing their scoring average drop and their offense fail to score in two separate contests. In 2013, the Broncos retooled offense won't have much trouble reaching the endzone, and if they fail to score offensive points in even ONE game in 2013, I will don a Vandal sweatshirt—and since I'm highly allergic to Vandal merchandise, I think you see my confidence in this prediction.
3) Another 1,000 yard rusher will emerge
Tea leaves didn't predict who...but I'm confident in saying his name rhymes with "Jay Ajayi"
4) A newbie at corner will make all-conference
Losing Jamar Taylor and Jerrell Gavins will sting in 2013, and don't expect a repeat of 2012's pass defense (4 TDs surrendered, ranked 4th nationally), but one of the noobs at the CB position will become Jamar Lite™ in short enough order to land on the MWC first or second team. Looking at you, Donte Deayon...don't make a fool out of me...er...Nostradamus.
5) Joe Southwick will rush for over 200 yards
When Broadway Joe tucks and runs, doesn't slide awkwardly OR forget where the first down marker is, he can be a formidable weapon out of the backfield. Given his low sack numbers and newfound confidence on the ground, I think a 200 yard rushing season is doable, nay probable.
6) The conference title will run through Boise, but also Logan
The Broncos will again be the team to beat in the Mountain West, but the upstart Aggies were just as close to a BCS berth this season as Boise State. The loss of Gary Andersen will hurt a bit, but with Chuckie Keeton under center and the Aggies playing solid defense, it may make for quite the conference showdown.
7) Three true freshman will play
The 2013 class has yet to sign, but with graduation leaving vacancies on several Bronco units, some true freshman are bound to play. Best bets are DT Nick Terry, DE/DT Kamalei Correa and OLB Joe Martarano if he decides to forego the major leagues.
8) Demarcus Lawrence: sackmaster
Lawrence missed two full games this season and still came away with 8.5 sacks. If he can stay in Coach Pete's good graces, he should easily crack double digits in the sack column. Sam Ukwuachu will benefit from the keen eye opposing offenses keep on Lawrence as well—he'll notch at least 6 of his own.
9) A JUCO will rise
The Broncos have tapped the JUCO pipeline early and often this recruiting cycle, and from the sounds of it, they were largely after mid-year transfers. This says that they want guys that can contribute ASAP, and although all of them could see time on Bronco units, at least one will emerge ala Demarcus Lawrence. I'd say Derrick Thomas or Deuce Mataele are the frontrunners.
10) Chris Petersen over 90
This one is a Darryl "Chocolate Thunder" Dawkins slam dunk. Pete's sitting at 84 wins and should reach 90 before November. If Pete can re-harness the magic of the last few seasons, he very well may hit 100 wins before hitting double-digit losses. Now that would be something.