BY MIKE PRATER
THE IDAHO PRESS
Boise State football opens fall training camp Friday, which means only one thing: Summer officially ends in five days.
Gone forever. No more lazy days of sunshine. Time to get serious for the fall.
Boise State’s season doesn’t kick off until the Aug. 31 opener against Florida State. Until then, as college football fans hyperventilate like children in December over disappearing calendar days, here are 10 predictions that just might come true …
Boise State’s QB camp battle won’t matter — in the long run.
When camp starts, all eyes will be on Chase Cord and Hank Bachmeier in the race to replace Brett Rypien. Coach Bryan Harsin said he’ll announce a starting quarterback about 10 days before the opener.
It’ll be the most overrated piece of news this season.
Right now, based on what we know and what we’ve seen in public, neither QB is ready to play and succeed during an entire season. Too much inexperience. Too many question marks. Too much pressure.
Cord will start against Florida State because of his time with the offensive system, but Bachmeier will loom all season — and eventually get his chance.
Inconsistency will drive fans crazy.
Eventually, one will emerge into a star. Just not this season.
Speaking of (former) Boise State quarterbacks … two are about to make NFL rosters.
Rypien will make the Denver Broncos’ roster, and Ryan Finley, who played here in 2014-15 before transferring to North Carolina State, will survive the league’s Aug. 31 cut day with the Cincinnati Bengals. Both will end up anywhere from backups to the practice squad.
BSU will produce at least three players in the 2020 NFL Draft.
The Broncos draft well in even-numbered years — two draft picks in 2018, three in 2016, three in 2014 and six in 2012.
Next spring, STUD Curtis Weaver, defensive tackle David Moa and left tackle Ezra Cleveland will become professional football players. The roster is loaded with enough pro potential that at least five could end up in the draft.
Boise State has had a player leave school early, and drafted into the NFL, for six straight seasons. Weaver and Cleveland will make that seven.
Andrew Van Buren will run for 1,000 yards.
Boise State has produced a 1,000-yard running back for 10 straight seasons, the longest streak in college football.
Van Buren, a sophomore, has 163 career yards.
I love his size (6-foot, 220 pounds), style of physical running and five returning starters on the offensive line. And his quarterback will be new, meaning he’ll need time before the passing game flourishes, despite so much talent at wide receiver.
Alexander Mattison and the offensive line started slow last year, and finished strong.
I sense a stronger start to the running game this season, and if Van Buren can take care of his pass-blocking responsibilities, he could have a monster finish, too.
All three Idaho schools will finish with winning records.
Boise State. Nine wins, at least.
Idaho State. Had a rare winning season last year (6-5), and could be better this year.
Idaho. Two winning seasons this century (Idaho State has had five).
But the Vandals do have a favorable schedule: Idaho State at home, and they don’t play league favorites Eastern Washington, UC Davis or Montana State in Big Sky games (with the Weber State game scheduled for Moscow).
P.S. Boise State, Idaho State and Idaho haven’t shared winning records in the same season since 1995 — the Broncos’ last year in the Big Sky.
New Mountain West / BSU television package won’t change much for Broncos’ fans.
There has been a ton of chatter about how we’ll watch Mountain West football games in the future. ESPN and CBS will continue to be a part of the picture when a new deal is announced this fall, effective for the 2020 season.
Very little, if anything, will change for Boise State, which has a separate TV package from the rest of the league.
Boise State home games will continue to air on ESPN networks.
And most league road games will be on CBS Sports Network.
An occasional Boise State low-profile nonconference or MW game could end up on digital as the league uses its other teams to experiment for the future.
Otherwise, status quo despite all the chatter.
Rocky Long’s shine at San Diego State will start to fade.
The league’s veteran coach appears to be slipping … 11 wins in 2016, 10 wins in 2017, seven wins in an injury-riddled 2018. And two straight bowl losses by a combined score of 69-35.
Now he’s tweaking the offense to add more spread, more space, which reeks of desperation from a coach who’s always promoted defense first.
His quarterback won’t threaten anyone this season, but the schedule is soft. The Aztecs will end up in another bowl game; they won’t win a division title for the third straight year.
Pac-12 silliness — 9 a.m. games in Pacific Time Zone markets
The league is floating ideas of playing early-morning games in the future.
Conversation is great. Creativity is cool.
This is a bad idea — forcing fans out of bed at 6 a.m. to hit a football game. That’s going to get more people in the seats?
The Mountain West might be curious. Boise State is always listening to its fans about kick times.
Don’t do it. Ever. … And they won’t. The idea is that ridiculous.
National picture: Clemson and Alabama will dominate even more than usual.
Clemson is favored to win every regular season game this year by at least 17 points. Alabama has a similar schedule. Their quarterbacks will finish 1-2 in the Heisman race.
Or tune out now.
Florida State will beat Boise State (but Broncos will cover the 4-5 points).
The Seminoles were a mess last year, and have nowhere to go but up. Roster to roster, Florida State and Boise State are comparable, and Harsin is a better coach than the overrated Willie Taggart.
The difference: Speed, and the Seminoles win by a field goal.
Six weeks later, Florida State will lose by at least three TDs at Clemson. That same day, or night, Oct. 12, Boise State will win its fifth straight game.
By beating Hawaii for the seventh straight time.
In a game that ends after midnight.
Because some predictions come with guarantees.
Mike Prater is the Idaho Press sports columnist and co-hosts Idaho Sports Talk on KTIK 93.1 FM The Ticket every Monday-Friday from 3-6 p.m. He can be found on Twitter @MikeFPrater and can be reached at email@example.com. Prater’s opinions are his own.