Written By: Colby Dant (@TheColbyD) also check out:
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The Mountain West Conference
The Mountain West Conference has been a great conference since its existence. Remember this is the conference that prepped TCU & Utah for the Big 12 and Pac 12 and those teams have done great in those conferences. The MWC still has legit heavy weights in Boise State and San Diego State and this year you’ll see a lot from them.
Could we maybe see a conference championship with two unbeaten teams? I’ll be rooting for that for sure. The strength of the conference is in the Mountain Division but the West might be coming up this year.
Mountain West Mountain Division
1. Boise State
The Broncos had an off year last year for them and still won 9 games. This year they are loaded for a run to the playoffs. This will easily be the most talented roster under head coach Bryan Harsin. They are led by sophomore quarterback Brett Rypien the nephew of former Super Bowl winner Mark Rypien. Schedule wise the Broncos out of conference schedule lines up with an opening day game @Louisana Lafayette a dangerous team from the sun belt, then they play Washington State at home on the smurf turf.
The other two out of conference games are @Oregon State and home to BYU. I think they can win all four but some of those teams are talented enough to beat them if they are not ready. In conference The Broncos miss out on San Diego State and their away games could tell the tale for the season with games @New Mexico (they were a bowl last year), @Wyoming, @Hawaii & @Air Force. If they can win those I think they could run the table and be a thorn in all the playoff committee’s side. Also I should note that Boise State gets Utah State, Colorado State, San Jose State & UNLV as their conference home games. Don’t look past Utah State who gave Boise an ass whooping last year that they haven’t seen in decades.
2. Air Force
Troy Calhoun is one of the best coaches in the country. It’s amazing he’s stayed with the Falcons this long. Last year the Falcons won 8 games and played for the conference championship. I expect similar results but I don’t have them playing for the conference championship this time around. Schedule wise out of conference they get games vs Abilene Christian, vs Georgia State, vs Navy, @Army.
They should be able to go at least 3-1 in those games and they get the midshipmen at home so thats a winnable game although I bet they’ll still be underdogs. In conference they have road games @Utah State, @Wyoming, vs New Mexico (In Dallas), @Fresno State, & @San Jose State. They should be able to handle the California schools but the other 3 should all be great games. All in all I got the falcons winning 7 or 8 games this year and getting to yet another bowl game under Calhoun.
3. Utah State
Head coach Matt Wells has done a great job taking over for Gary Anderson. Wells has made it to a bowl game every season and I expect no different this year. Star QB Chuckie Keaton has finally graduated so now they must call on Kent Myers who got plenty of experience when Keaton was injured. Out of conference schedule is vs Weber State, @USC, vs Arkansas State, @BYU the Aggies will need to go at least 2-2 in those.
Watch out Arkansas State is better than people think. In conference they have it tough they open the in conference play with three straight tough games vs Air Force, @Boise State, @Colorado State. I think they’ll go 1-2 in that stretch before a much needed bye week. Then they get Fresno State & San Diego State at home before a game @Wyoming. They must go 2-1 in that stretch. All in all I think Utah State gets back bowling but barely.
4. New Mexico
Picking this division of this conference is pretty damn hard after Boise State every team is solid. Bob Davie has done a wonderful job here in Albuquerque. He took them bowling last year for the first time since 2007. The out of conference schedule is favorable with games vs 1AA South Dakota, @New Mexico State, @Rutgers (Watch for the upset) and a mid season match up at home vs Louisiana Monroe from the Sun Belt.
I think 3-1 is a realistic goal for them out of conference and maybe even 4-0 if they can pull the upset. In conference the Lobos luck out by avoiding having to play San Diego State. They also get home games against San Jose State, Boise State, Nevada & Wyoming. I think 3-1 is a realistic goal for them. At the end of the day I see the Lobo’s having a great season and hitting 7 wins.
5. Colorado State
Head coach Mike Bobo is in year two in Fort Collins and hopefully that means improvement on a 7-6 record last year. I don’t see that happening though and here’s why. The schedule is just too damn tough but hey maybe the rams can win some of these games I have them losing. Out of conference wise the Rams get bitter rival Colorado (in Denver), vs Texas-San Antonio, vs 1AA Northern Colorado , @Minnesota.
I got the Rams going 2-2 in those 4 but I’ll admit they could pull off some upsets. Those Colorado – Colorado State games are always wild and they almost upset Minnesota last year losing to them in OT. In conference they have away games @Boise State, @UNLV, @Air Force & @San Diego State. Ouch! They’ll be lucky to go 1-3 and could very well go 0-4 in those games. That means they need to take care of work at home if they want to go bowling. They have home games vs Wyoming, Utah State, Fresno State & New Mexico. Those are all winnable game but I doubt they win all four. All in all I got the Rams going 6-6 this year and being bowl eligible.
This one is the ultimate mystery. The Cowboys head coach is Craig Bohl who came over from North Dakota State a few seasons ago. He’s a proven winner and now he’s in year three in Laramie and I expect the team to be much much better this year. I originally picked them higher but this division is so tough. Year three in any new coach’s system is normally when they start to turn things around and year four is really when they turn it on it. So I still have Wyoming in last place but I expect them to notch some key victories against the other guys this year.
Out of conference the Cowboys start off with a home game against one of the best teams in the MAC with Northern Illinois, then they get @Nebraska, vs UC Davis & @Eastern Michigan. I think the Cowboys will probably go 2-2 in that stretch but if they can upset Northern Illinois 3-1 would be a great way to start the season. In conference play the Cowboys have some tough home games against Air Force, Boise State, Utah State & San Diego State. They’ll be lucky to win one of those. On the road they get @Colorado State, @Nevada, @UNLV & @New Mexico. If they really want to make this season special with a bowl appearance they’ll need to win two if not three of those. All in all I think the Cowboys get 5 wins and miss out on a bowl but watch out next year because they are certainly on the right track.