Consistency is hard in college football. There are layers to this belief. First of all, it's difficult to get 18-to-22-year-olds to do anything consistently. Add in coaching and administrative changes over time, and winning at a high level year in and year out becomes even harder. Moreover, the financial gap can put a greater strain on resources to win at the Group of Five level. And yet, through all of those obstacles, Boise State continues to win.
The Broncos may not be the top-10ish program flirting major bowl bids like they were a decade ago, but that's more of a credit to other programs, like No. 25 UCF, joining the conversation. Still, Boise State is on the short list of Group of Five programs ready to make run to a New Year's Six bowl and knock off a perennial power now and then. That was the case last year and, for the most part, that rings true this year as well.
What should we expect from the Broncos in 2020? Here is our preview as we count down the top 25 teams heading into next season courtesy of our CBS Sports 130.
Final ranking: No. 22 | Achievements: Won Mountain West, lost Las Vegas Bowl to Washington 38-7.
The Broncos kept rolling in 2019 with a 12-2 record, an unblemished conference run and another Mountain West title -- their fourth since joining the league in 2011. All of that is even more impressive when you consider the Broncos cycled through three quarterbacks due to injury and replaced defensive coordinator Andy Avalos, and though Boise's 2019 schedule wasn't overly daunting, it did beat Florida State 36-31 in Tallahassee in Week 1.
DE/LB Curtis Weaver: He was only the Mountain West Defensive Player of the Year in 2019 and a first-team member of our CBS Sports All-America team. Weaver led the Mountain West, and finished fifth nationally, with 13.5 sacks and was a formidable presence off the edge for the three seasons he played.
OL Ezra Cleveland: He was a stalwart along the Broncos' offensive line with 40 career starts at tackle and All-America honors to boot. Boise State is replacing basically its entire O-line from a year ago, which is concerning, but Cleveland is the biggest name to go after being selected in the second round of the NFL draft.
WR John Hightower: Boise State's speedy wideout led the team with 943 yards receiving -- at 18.5 yards per catch -- and eight touchdowns. He gave the Broncos a vertical threat plus a yards-after-catch demon in the open field and a special teams weapon. He really did it all and his absence is notable.
DT David Moa: He didn't receive the accolades that Weaver did, but Moa was a force in the interior of the defensive line with more than 20 tackles for loss in his career. He's the other big loss along the D-line.
OC/QB coach Zak Hill: Boise's offensive coordinator and quarterbacks coach moved on to Arizona State after four seasons with the Broncos. Under Hill, Boise State scored at least 32 points every season and finished first or second in the Mountain West in points per game from 2017-19. Co-offensive coordinator Eric Kiesau has been promoted to OC, though coach Bryan Harsin will still have his say in the play-calling.
QB Hank Bachmeier: The sophomore had an up-and-down freshman campaign, but the positives showed a lot of promise. Bachmeier's first start against Florida State was an eye-opener with 407 yards passing, a touchdown and a pick. He started eight games last season, and though injuries and mistakes put a damper on things as the year went on, there's no denying Bachmeier's gifts. This guy can really sling the ball and showed tremendous toughness by standing in the pocket and taking some brutal hits. Keeping him upright will be paramount in his development.
RB George Holani: The Mountain West Freshman of the Year ran for 1,014 yards and seven touchdowns, leading the team in both categories. Like Bachmeier, his 2020 season probably depends on how the Broncos do up front with a new-look offensive line, but the production is already there for the young back.
WR Khalil Shakir: Hightower is gone, but Shakir was Boise State's leader with 63 receptions a year ago. While he's a more of a possession receiver than Hightower was, Shakir can give the Broncos just about everything in the route tree from the slot. He rounds out a promising young QB-RB-WR trio for this Broncos offense.
CB Jalen Walker: Whereas the Boise State defensive front loses some key components, the secondary is full of dawgs. Walker led the team with nine pass break-ups a season ago and tallied an interception. Walker leads a defensive backfield that includes All-MWC first team member Kekaula Kaniho, so the Broncos pass defense is in good hands.
LB Brock Miller: The former NC State linebacker played in 31 games during his time with the Wolfpack and had 11 starts in 2019. He had seven tackles for loss, which tied for third on the team.
OL Ozuma Osuji: The Broncos need help in the trenches, and it's getting some in the form of Rice transfer Ozuma Osuji, who had seven starts in the past two seasons for the Owls. Osuji is a graduate transfer and will be immediately eligible.
Week 2 at Air Force -- Sept. 12: This is a classic look-ahead game for the Broncos. With Florida State coming to town the following week (see below), Boise State can ill-afford to overlook the Falcons. Air Force was the Mountain West's second-best team a year ago and returns quarterback Donald Hammond III as well as lead running back Kadin Remsberg.
Week 3 vs. Florida State -- Sept. 19: Regardless of Florida State's recent run of mediocrity, this was Boise State's marquee win a year ago. Now the Broncos have a chance to win back-to-back games against the Seminoles. Florida State will be breaking in a new coach with Mike Norvell, and it'll be interesting to see how the team will look early on in the season with potentially a shortened/modified preseason for installation. In any case, it's another opportunity for Boise to pull off another "Giant Killer" win.
Week 9 vs. BYU -- Nov. 6: It may not count toward the Mountain West standings, but the Friday night game against BYU still stands out on paper. It's a revenge game for Boise State's only regular-season loss in 2019, and it's on a short week.
Week 12 at Wyoming -- Nov. 21: The Mountain West features a lot of programs going through a reload or full-on rebuild. While Wyoming has its own questions to answer, the road trip to Laramie in late November feels like a trap game. It's on the back end of a two-week road trip, and if there's one thing you can say about Craig Bohl's teams, it's that they'll beat the snot out of you. If Bachmeier isn't healthy again, Boise could find itself in trouble here.
Last year also marked the Broncos' fourth straight season with at least 10 wins; in fact, the program has had only four seasons of nine wins or fewer since 1999. Outside of making the playoff -- which, like Michael Scott and inside jokes, Boise would love to be part of some day -- that's the type of success that can spoil any fanbase. As such, expectations remain high for the Broncos in 2020.
The turnover in the trenches is a bit worrisome. As a general but certainly not hard-and-fast rule, teams with rebuilding O-lines tend to get an under from me on the preseason win total projections. But there's no denying Boise State has something special at quarterback with skill players to complement. And with several Mountain West teams going through a retool, there doesn't look to be many challengers outside of Air Force or San Diego State.
On that note, don't be surprised if Boise State gets off to a rocky start. Georgia Southern, Air Force, Florida State and Marshall isn't the easiest September schedule. Come November, though, the Broncos should be in the thick of the Mountain West Championship Game hunt yet again. Whether they're in the hunt for something more, like a New Year's Six bowl berth, will be determined much earlier.