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Who will be the tougher opponent: New Mexico or UNLV?

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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.

Quite clearly, the two worst teams on Boise State's schedule are the UNLV Running Rebels and the New Mexico Lobos. This fact may change by the end of the season should football miracles occur, but for the time being, UNLV is awful and New Mexico is abominable. Which one will give Boise State more trouble? Humor me by voting in the poll and leaving a comment. Here are the New Mexico and UNLV previews.

Three reasons why New Mexico will be a tough opponent

1. Bob Davie knows his defensive footbaw

The former ESPN commentator used to be a former defensive genius, helping to originate the attacking three-man defensive fronts that have become prevalent against spread teams. You may have not been alive to see it, but his Wrecking Crew defenses at Texas A&M really did exist in the early 1990s and were really good. Then Davie coached at Notre Dame, did some ESPN commentating, and is now coaching New Mexico. I do not recommend this career path.

Still, Davie can coach up a defense, presumably, and he has the added bonus of debuting his new New Mexico D on a Boise State offense still finding its footing (September 29, Lobos v. Broncos).


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2. New Mexico will have a running quarterback

Sure, he'll be running because he is bad at passing, but that didn't seem to stop a certain gangly, ostrich-like Nevada quarterback from giving Bronco Nation the shakes. B.R. Holbrook and an experienced O-line will lead an option-heavy, pistol-influenced, ground-and-pound offense that will seek to shorten games and watch miracles happen. o that the miracles the team prayed for will not have to hold quite as long.

(That is, if Holbrook is not in the hospital all season.)

Boise State used to struggle against mobile quarterbacks before the latest generation of Space Jam footballers came to Boise to play defense. The Space Jammers are in the NFL now. Did they take their mobile-QB kryptonite with them?

3. Terrible is dangerous

New Mexico may only be expecting to win two games this year, and Boise State is not one of those two. So plan on Bob Davie throwing the kitchen sink at the Broncos (the kitchen sink is Davie's code word for quick kicks on third downs). The Lobos get Boise State early on (Sept. 29), so


Three reasons why UNLV will be a tough opponent

1. UNLV played Boise State tougher than they had any right to last year

Last year the Kellen Moore-led Boise State Broncos only led by a touchdown at halftime, before blowing the barn door off in the second half. Moore finished with five TD passes and set the all-time wins mark for a college footballer. But still, that first-half was sweat-stain-inducing and slightly embarrassing since I had to explain to my out-of-town guests why we weren't seeing the blowout I told them we would see.

Whatever voodoo that UNLV did last year, they will need more of it this season since the game is in Boise. Best begin clipping coupons for voodoo now.


2. Caleb Herring

A big part of last year's quasi-one-half nailbiter was Rebel quarterback Caleb Herring who played better than Herring has ever played. He was on fire in the first half, much less so in the second half, and never again the rest of the season. He caught lightning in a bottle, which is neither easy nor safe to do. Can he do it again? Would Lee Trevino be of any help?

3. Bobby Hauck Montana

At some point, you have to think that Bobby Hauck is going to turn the Rebels into some sort of equivalent to his Montana teams of yore. Even a little equivalent would be a positive sign. Hauck's Montana teams were consistently good. UNLV is consistently not. If this year is the year for a turnaround, it would be good timing since the Mountain West has some room to move. A good UNLV team could be over .500 and thinking of a bowl when they arrive in Boise in late October. Or the opposite. It's hard to tell.