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Mailbag: Boise State's rebuilding or reloading?

Here is this week's mailbag. As always, send your questions to me via Twitter at BFeldmanCBS:

From @drofdarb23 Do you expect Boise State to "rebuild" or "reload" this year and what kind of season do you see them having in '12?

I'd say more reload than rebuild because I don't think the Broncos will plummet off the national radar. Boise State has overcome head coaching changes, numerous coordinator departures and watched standout players move on over the past decade, and the Broncos just keep rolling on. The program has arrived as a "big-time" entity. That said, no doubt the Broncos will really miss Kellen Moore, who was a ridiculous 50-3 as a starter. He was so accurate, smart and clutch. In many ways, the undersized QB epitomized the program. They also lost RB Doug Martin, some SEC caliber D-linemen and a couple of solid DBs. That is a ton to overcome.

They have four QBs in the mix for Moore's old job. Keep an eye on early enrollee freshman Nick Patti. He should be a good fit in this system. The really good news there is they still have D.J. Harper, who should be one of the better RBs in the country and most of the O-line returns. And of course, head coach Chris Petersen who knows exactly what it takes to produce an elite team.

The Broncos have a tough opener at Michigan State (who also lost a stud QB, some really good receivers and the anchor of its D-line). A few weeks later, BSU gets a visit from a BYU team that I expect to be very good and be in the top 25. After that, though, the schedule throttles down considerably. BSU has a road-trip to So. Miss, but USM also has to find a new QB and is dealing with a coaching transition.My hunch is the Broncos will be a fringe top 25 team this year but I'll be very surprised if they have another top 10 finish. (They've been in the top 10 four of the past six seasons.)

From @rkdavidson13 What Pac12 team(s) could surprise and win division and/or conference?

I'll be stunned if anyone other than USC and Oregon win their divisions. Both should be overwhelming favorites given who they have returning and who everyone else has back.

My sleeper pick in the Pac-12 would be Utah: The Utes should have a salty D-line, led by the outstanding Star Lotulelei (if you haven't heard about him, get used to hearing the name) and getting QB Jordan Wynn finally healthy after battling shoulder problems the past year will make a big difference. They also have slick RB John White, one of the more dynamic backs in the country. Behind White, they have some really physical backs who should complement him very nicely.

It remains to be seen how well new OC Brian Johnson, the 25-year-old former Utah QB, will do taking over for Norm Chow, but if Kyle Whittingham is sold on him to flip the keys to him at this stage, that says a lot. And Johnson does have a lot of weapons to work with.

The Utes schedule also sets up pretty well. They don't have to face Oregon or Stanford, who are probably two of the best three teams in the league. They get USC at home. They also get BYU at home. I think they have an outside shot to win 10 games and nine wins seems realistic. If USC wasn't so loaded -- and experienced -- Utah would be more viable to be a BCS bowl darkhorse pick.

From @chins89gt Is Ohio state the best team in the Big Ten RIGHT NOW. In two years your projection for them?

Michigan, as much as this will probably annoy Buckeyes fans to read, is the best team in the Big Ten at this point. The Wolverines finished the 2011 season very well beating OSU and winning a BCS bowl. Denard Robinson returns, along with a more balanced running attack and some good young talent on D. They do have to replace some strong linemen on both sides of the ball, but Michigan should be a top 15 team in 2012.

The Buckeyes should bounce back after a dismal 2011. Braxton Miller is a gifted young QB who fits Urban Meyer's system very well, but they need some skill guys to emerge as go-to guys. In two years, when Miller is a senior, and many of these highly touted D-line recruits are juniors or redshirt sophomores, the Buckeyes may shape up as a BCS title contender, but so much can happen between now and then.

From @MrWard26 Who do you think will be ASU's starting QB this year?

My guess is Michael Eubank. I've heard really good things about his potential from coaches who have been around him. Also, given the fact that his running ability and size also suits Todd Graham's scheme since the new ASU coach wants to run some zone read, Eubank's chances seem pretty good to emerge there as The Guy.

From @maxt21 Your thoughts on the Georgia Bulldogs next season?

Like them a lot. Aaron Murray will be a three-year starter at QB. He's good and has played in a lot of big games already. They're deeper at RB than they were last year. They have playmakers on the outside. The defense should be very tough again. The O-line, which has been a question mark in Athens a lot the past few years, again is a big concern, though.

Their schedule in the non-conference is much easier than it was last year when a stacked Boise State team came to Georgia. Instead, the Dawgs get a visit from Buffalo to open the season. Best of all, they avoid LSU, Alabama and Arkansas, the three most talented teams in the league. Aside from a tough road trip to South Carolina in early October, I don't see an opponent that figures to be in the top 15.

Looking at their schedule and the talent the Dawgs have back, if--and this is a fairly big if--the Georgia O-line jells pretty quickly, they have a legit shot to win 11 games in the regular season before getting to the SEC title game.

From @duckhook7 Would u elaborate on ur earlier statement that Gunner Kiel doesn't have the competitiveness 2 b a successful qb or w/e u said?

Yes, if you heard QB coach George Whitfield with us on our Signing Day Central show, you know some of the skepticism. Whitfield spoke about how Kiel struggled in the competition setting when pitted with other touted QB prospects from around the country and didn't really step up and rise to the challenge the way some other top quarterbacks did there. And I was told others had a similar impression of the Indiana quarterback prospect.

Obviously, Kiel could've just had a bad week in an unfamiliar setting there in California, but we'll see if that impression that people got there about his competitiveness and moxie over a relatively short time was inaccurate.

From @allgrownzup What impact does losing Tee Shepard have on the Irish for the upcoming season?

I expected Shepard to be one of the nation's biggest impact true freshmen this fall. Coaches I know who scouted him were really impressed by his athleticism and play-making ability. Those two qualities the Irish have sorely lacked in their secondary for a very long time. (As I wrote a while back, the Irishforced only 14 turnovers in 13 games. Only one team in all of the FBS that played in a bowl game forced less turnovers (Fresno State).They also are pretty thin back there numbers wise, having lost both starters. There is a big need there.

From @blakedales What is Alabama's biggest obstacle to overcome to be able to defend national championship?

The psychological hurdle of trying to go back-to-back. It is very hard to do because you need to, among other things, avoid significant injuries for a long period of time, you need players to still be incredibly hungry and locker room chemistry needs to be replicated. Another big hurdle: Bama has to play at both LSU and Arkansas this fall.
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