Otto Kitsinger III
The loss of 2013 home games against Louisville and Rutgers might have been the only collateral damage from backing out of the Big East deal...but all things considered, the new 2013 slate isn't so bad.
Conference home games: Air Force, Nevada, New Mexico, Wyoming
Conference road games: Colorado State, Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State
Non-conference home games: UT-Martin, Southern Miss
Non-conference road games: Washington, BYU
The home game slate isn't ultra-glamorous, but we get the pleasure of playing two triple-option teams (Air Force and New Mexico...watch your knees, everyone) and UNR, who has become nearly as hated as the Vandals of late. Pity Chris Ault won't be there this year, because I had a list of short jokes that I was ready to hurl his direction. Boise State also gets Wyoming at home, who can be competitive or terrible, but their coach has a short-fuse—so there's your entertainment value. Southern Miss would generally be a solid home game, but last year they were awful—which was a total aberration and won't happen again right. Southern Miss? The obvious drag on the home schedule is Tennessee-Martin—who isn't compelling for regional or competitive purposes. That is a crappy, crappy game.
The conference road slate is surprisingly difficult, especially in cross-divisional play. Boise State has to face a resurgent Fresno team on their turf in the screwdriver-throwing capital of the world (also the hatchet-wielding hitchhiker capital of the world) and try to avenge the one conference loss from last season at Qualcomm against the Aztecs. Utah State was a top 25 team last season and yes, it's very strange to type that series of words with no sarcasm intended. Colorado State is really the only drag on the road conference schedule, but Fort Collins is at a nosebleed-inducing altitude, so maybe that can be a game this year too. Out-of-conference road games will be tough—starting with the opener against UW, who barely fell to the Broncos in the Las Vegas Bowl and had an incredible recruiting class sign last week. BYU returns a lot of pieces on their dominant defense and will likely be starting a competent quarterback in 2013.
The schedule is no murderer's row...but if Boise State manages to get through it unscathed, I think they should be back in the title discussion. Given that the Broncos were 6 points from perfection in 2012—by all accounts, a down year—a little magic might get them through the 2013 slate without a loss. Of course, that scenario could be flipped on its head too, and the Broncos could struggle in several of the games above. We won't know until the fall how the team will come together, but when you look closer at the schedule...it's really not so bad. Now, about that Tennessee-Martin game...
Ranking the schedule (most difficult to least)
3. Utah State
4. San Diego State
6. Fresno State
7. Air Force
9. Southern Miss
Season ticket holders might not be over the moon...but I think the schedule, as a whole, is fairly difficult and workable. What do you think?