Long trips, a cake conference slate: Takeaways from Boise State’s 2024 football schedule

  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.
  • Oops!
    Something went wrong.
    Please try again later.

The Boise State football team’s Mountain West title defense begins Oct. 5 at home against Utah State, according to the schedule that was released on Thursday.

The Broncos are scheduled to travel to Hawaii for the first time since 2020, and they’ll head to UNLV for a regular-season game for the first time since 2019. Boise State was scheduled to play at UNLV in 2020, but the game was canceled because of COVID-19.

The Broncos played in Las Vegas last year and beat the upstart Rebels 44-20 in the Mountain West championship game at Allegiant Stadium.

Here are three takeaways from Thursday’s schedule release.

Another long East Coast trip

The Broncos are making a habit out of opening seasons by heading east. Boise State’s trip to Statesboro to face Georgia Southern on Aug. 31 will mark the third time the team has opened east of the Mississippi River since 2019.

In 2021, Boise State made the trek to Orlando to open the season at The Bounce House against UCF. The Broncos jumped out to a 14-0 lead but lost 36-31, after former UCF quarterback Dillon Gabriel threw touchdown passes to four different receivers. Gabriel spent the past two seasons at Oklahoma and will spend his final year of eligibility at Oregon — meaning Boise State could see him again.

The Broncos opened the season in Florida again in 2019. They were scheduled to face Florida State in Jacksonville, but the game was moved to the Seminoles’ home field in Tallahassee because of Hurricane Dorian. It was the debut of former Boise State starting quarterback Hank Bachmeier, who racked up 407 passing yards in a 36-31 victory.

Bachmeier went on to win the starting job in each of the next three seasons. He racked up a 20-9 record, but decided to transfer four games into the 2022 season. He spent last season at Louisiana Tech and will spend his final season of eligibility at Wake Forest.

Boise State assistant coach Jeff Choate signals the Bronco defense against Hawaii on Oct. 24, 2009, in Honolulu.
Boise State assistant coach Jeff Choate signals the Bronco defense against Hawaii on Oct. 24, 2009, in Honolulu.

A former Bronco comes home

Boise State’s home game against Nevada on Nov. 9 will be a homecoming of sorts for the Wolf Pack’s new head coach.

Nevada hired former BSU assistant coach Jeff Choate last December. The 53-year-old coached running backs, linebackers and special teams for the Broncos from 2006 to 2011. He was the head coach at Montana State from 2016 to 2020 and spent the past three seasons as the co-defensive coordinator at Texas.

Choate was at least rumored to be a candidate at Boise State when both Andy Avalos and Spencer Danielson were hired. He has coached against the Broncos once before. Choate was the defensive line and special teams coach at Washington in 2015 when Boise State beat the Huskies 16-13 at Albertsons Stadium.

The last time Nevada played at Albertsons Stadium, former quarterback Carson Strong led the Wolf Pack to a 41-31 win in 2021. Boise State is 31-14 all-time against Nevada, which struggled to a 2-10 record last season.

NFL stars and Boise State Hall of Famers: Broncos find success with JUCO transfers

The stars are aligning for Boise State

The pot of gold at the end of the rainbow for Group of Five teams this year is an automatic bid to the newly expanded 12-team College Football Playoff. The five highest-ranked conference champions will get berths after the NCAA altered its original qualifier model last week. Seven teams then will get at-large bids.

It’s safe to say the champions from the SEC, Big Ten, ACC and Big 12 will have seats at the table. The Pac-12, which is now really the Pac-2 with only Oregon State and Washington State, is eligible only for an at-large bid. That leaves the highest-ranked Group of Five champion, likely coming from the Mountain West or American Athletic Conference, to claim the fifth automatic spot.

Boise State has done its part to gather the pieces for a playoff run.

The Broncos added former USC quarterback Malachi Nelson and former Kilgore College wide receiver Chris Marshall, both of whom were five-star recruits coming out of high school. They also added former Indiana wide receiver Cam Camper to a receiving corps that includes explosive youngsters Austin Bolt and Prince Strachan.

Which of Boise State’s transfers have a chance to make an immediate impact in 2024?

The Broncos have defending Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year Ashton Jeanty back to lead a backfield that is brimming with potential. They’re also returning four offensive linemen with starting experience and at least eight starters on defense. To top it all, Boise State hired former college and NFL head coach Dirk Koetter to run the offense.

The Broncos’ schedule is also ideal for another Mountain West title run. Boise State doesn’t face Fresno State, Colorado State or Air Force. The Bulldogs and Rams handed Boise State losses on the road last year. Colorado State won in especially brutal fashion after connecting on a Hail Mary touchdown in the final seconds.

Air Force, of course, is routinely good and always a tricky opponent because of its triple-option rushing attack. The Falcons’ last losing season came in 2018.

Boise State could be tested at UNLV, which returns the bulk of its dangerous offense from a year ago. San Diego State could present a challenge but will be trying to bounce back to form with a new head coach after a 4-8 season, and the Broncos have won two in a row against the Aztecs. The elevation and weather conditions often make Wyoming a tough place to play late in the season.

But overall, the schedule sets up the Broncos to cruise to another appearance in the Mountain West championship game. Four of their league opponents had losing records in 2023. They even have two bye weeks, presenting opportunities to get healthy and well-rested if need be.

Broncos’ 2024 schedule

Aug. 31: at Georgia Southern

Sept. 7: at Oregon

Sept. 14: Bye

Sept. 21: vs. Portland State

Sept. 28: vs. Washington State

Oct. 5: vs. Utah State

Oct. 12: at Hawaii

Oct. 19: Bye

Oct. 26: at UNLV

Nov. 2: vs San Diego State

Nov. 9: vs Nevada

Nov. 16: at San Jose State

Nov. 23: at Wyoming

Nov. 30: vs Oregon State