The Broncos opened the season ranked #5 and #7 in the AP and coaches polls, respectively, by far the highest season starting ranking in school history and the highest starting position for a non-BCS team. They opened the season with a win against #19/#22 Georgia at Georgia Dome in one of the nation's premier games of the opening weekend. The Broncos would win their next nine games and climbed to #2 in the coaches, AP and Harris polls and #3 in the BCS poll for their highest ranking ever in all four polls. On November 12, #5 Boise State lost to their rival #24 TCU, ending the nations longest home winning streak. They were invited to the Maaco Bowl Las Vegas for the second consecutive year where they defeated Arizona State 56–24 to finish the season 12–1 and ranked #6/#8 in the coaches/AP polls.
Boise State set two records in 2011. The Broncos became the first team in FBS history to win 50 games in a four-year span (2008–2011). Additionally, Kellen Moore became the winningest starting quarterback in FBS history with 50 wins. He passed former Texas quarterback Colt McCoy (45 wins).
At the Mountain West media days, held at the Cosmopolitan in Las Vegas, Nevada, the Broncos were picked as the overwhelming favorites to win the conference title, receiving 27 of a possible 30 first place votes. This was the fifth straight year that Boise State was picked as the preseason champion of their conference. So. WR Matt Miller and Sr. OL Joe Kellog were selected to the all-conference first team offense. Sr. DL Mike Atkinson and Sr. DB Jamar Taylor were selected to the all-conference first team defense. Sr. WR Mitch Burroughs was selected as the returner of the year and as the special teams player of the year.
On August 2, Boise State was ranked #22 in preseason Coaches' poll. Their opening season opponent, Michigan State, debuted at #13. This will mark the fourth straight season that Boise State will start the season against a ranked opponent from a BCS conference (they won the previous three).
On August 18, Boise State was ranked #24 in the preseason AP poll.