Well, the 2015 season is finally here but Bronco Nation never left. The Broncos haven't opened at home since 2009 when they knocked off Chip Kelly's Ducks and I didn't think we could match that one for intrigue (or post-game drama), HOWEVER this game will feature a bevy of former Bronco commits, a host of former Bronco coaches, and a team that embarrassed us in our last matchup. It's just so tough to find a compelling storyline for this one! We've had months of talk, but Friday night the cleats hit the turf and the Broncos' title defense begins in earnest. What cabinet of wonders awaits us this year? The Awkward Bowl will be our first clue.
- Time: Friday, 8:15 p.m. MT
- Location: Albertsons Stadium, Boise, ID
- Weather: 70 degrees, Clear (if you don't count the smoke)
- Odds: Boise State is an 11.5 point favorite
- TV: ESPN
- Commentators: "Marky" Mark Jones, Rod "Gilly" Gilmore and "What kind of a name is Quint" Quint Kessenich
1. This is Chris Petersen's first trip back to The Blue (other than the time he came back to look for his keys)
This is probably the only place you're going to find this info, but this is Coach Petersen's first return to The Blue since taking the reins of the Washington program. Really this is a storyline I think more people should have explored. Pete's success in Boise: nearly unfathomable. His success at Washington: TBD.
2. The Huskies return just nine starters from last season's 8-6 squad
The Huskies lost a ton of talent from last year's squad...including 3 defensive first round draft picks (CB Marcus Peters, DT Danny Shelton, and OLB Shaq Thompson). They'll have to break in basically both lines and a new QB, but return key pieces in the secondary—including sophomore Budda Baker who was a freshman All-American last year. Talk about mixed bags.
3. UW backs run large
Thankfully Bishop Sankey is no longer on the UW roster, but Dwayne Washington is. The junior tailback is 6'2" 226 lbs and averaged 5.5 yards/carry last season. We'll find out early if the Boise State defensive front is as stout as we all think it is.
Boise State - Won 5 of last 5 contests
UW - Lost 3 of last 5 contests
Best name on their roster
Junior OLB Psalm Wooching
Best player picture on their roster
Redshirt freshman O-lineman (and former Boise State commit) Jesse Sosebee
That's a sleeveless suit jacket, isn't it?
Players to watch
The aforementioned sole proprietor of Seattle's only Buddhist Bakery was good enough a year ago to lock up honorable mention all Pac-12 honors (as a true freshman, no less). Baker had 80 tackles and an INT in 2014 and legitimately might be UW's best player.
Bronco fans might remember Mickens from the 2013...unpleasantness. Mickens, now a senior, had 109 yards against the Broncos in Seattle that fateful day and was the Huskies leading receiver a year ago as well. Redemption, thy name is Donte Deayon.
Cousin to former Bronco standout Austin Pettis and son of former major leaguer Gary Pettis, this sophomore receiver nearly committed to the Broncos, but chose Pete and the Huskies. He looked poised to breakout last season at wide receiver and has been known to field punts in an adequate manner.
Cameron Van Winkle
Rip has nothing on his place kicking cousin Cameron—a Pac-12 honorable mention performer last season as a sophomore. Van Winkle was 20-of-24 last season on field goals and has the range to hit from 50+, and also hit 96% of his extra points in 2014.
Pete decided to go cloak-and-dagger with his starting QB and refused to relinquish the signal-callers name before Friday. In my mind, it matters a lot if a true frosh like Jake Browning gets the nod—Albertsons Stadium will be loud and the Broncos have a fantastic front seven. However, any one of the potential starters—Browning, Jeff Lindquist, or KJ Carta-Samuels is a decorated recruit that could be a handful.
Players to NOT watch
Luckily for the Broncos, you don't have to worry about a number of all-conference performers suiting up this Friday...they're out due to injury or NFL Draftiness. A few of the Husky luminaries you don't get the pleasure (or misfortune) of viewing are: WR John Ross (injury), OL Micah Hatchie (graduated), DL Andrew Hudson (graduated), LB Hau'oli Kihaka (graduated), and LB John Timu (graduated).
Keys to victory
- Take advantage of mismatches on the line. The Broncos have a host of talent and experience on the D-line this season and the Huskies are going to be playing a lot of young and inexperienced guys on the line. Coach Yates can dial up lots of pressure for the young line of the Huskies to contend with and keep the eventual Husky starter uncomfortable.
- Get off to a hot start. The Broncos are breaking in a new QB that could use a shot of confidence...if Finley and company can get on the board early against a good Husky secondary, it might go a long way toward keeping Finley on his game.
- Hang on to the ball. This is the key in nearly every game, but the Broncos need to hang on to the ball on offense and get the ball back with their defense. A pick-six or a fumble in our own territory can change the complexion of the game for the Broncos. Don't do that, k?
- Score more points. You can go ahead and write this in permanent marker in your Trapper Keeper...the Broncos do this and there's a nearly 100% chance they win the game. I'd feel even more confident in this tactic if I could be assured that Friday is, in fact, NOT opposite day.
Boise State 24, Washington 10
Turnabout is fair play