College Football Previews
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The Mountain West Conference was at one time the top mid major conference but then TCU, Utah & BYU left for a better life. The conference took a hit although Boise State has constantly been a thorn in the big boys side. Colorado State has been a pretty good program since the mid nineties. San Diego State has finally become a rock solid program year in and year out. Wyoming and New Mexico seem to be headed in the right direction. All together the mountain west could find itself right there as the best non power 5 conference if they can just knock off a couple of the big boys.
1. COLORADO STATE RAMS
Colorado State and third year head coach Mike Bobo are finally ready to be serious contenders in the MWC. The rams have NFL talent at all three skill positions (QB, RB, WR). It’s a veteran team lead by seniors (QB) Nick Stevens, (RB) Dalyn Dawkins and (WR) Michael Gallup. The only problem is the mountain division is loaded with good teams. The out of conference schedule is brutal with an early season (Aug 26th) matchup at home vs Oregon State, then a week later they try to get revenge in the rivalry game vs Colorado.
Then the Rams get a home game vs Abilene Christian and a away game @ Alabama. 2-2 is likely but many experts have the Rams knocking off both Oregon State & Colorado. In conference the away games are at Hawaii, Utah State, New Mexico & Wyoming. I’m thinking 3-1 here but 2-2 could happen. They should be good enough to get past Hawaii and Utah State. At home in Fort Collins the rams get Nevada, Air Force, Boise State & San Jose State. I got the rams going 4-0 there but the big game is obviously vs Boise State. All together I got CSU going 9-3 or 8-4. Anything less should be a disappointment.
2. WYOMING COWBOYS
Finally the Cowboys came through for me last year. I knew the Craig Bohl hire from North Dakota State was going to pay off. He struggled his first two years but finally got things going last year and now the Cowboys are ready to defend their division crown from last year. Led by star QB Josh Allen who many experts think could be the top pick in next years NFL draft. It seems the big problem for the Cowboys going into the 2017 season will be on the defensive side of the ball where they struggled big time last year. Despite that this year should be Bohls most experienced defense yet so perhaps they can win the division again.
The out of conference schedule has games @ Iowa, vs Gardner-Webb, vs Oregon & vs Texas State. At the moment the spread in the Iowa game is +14 points which i find shocking. I think that will be a dog fight that could go either way but lets give the edge to the Hawkeyes and say they go 2-2 outside of the conference. On the road in conference the Cowboys get matchups at Utah State, Boise State, Air Force & San Jose State. 3-1 is possible here but Air Force at home could always be a tough game so perhaps 2-2. At home in Laramie they have matchups vs Hawaii, New Mexico, Colorado State & Fresno State. I’m thinking 4-0 here but New Mexico and CSU could be tricky. All together I have Bohl and company going 8-4 or 9-3.
3. BOISE STATE BRONCOS
I may be a moron for having Boise State the 3rd best team in the division but I think I see this program on a bit of a decline. Now with that said I still think they could easily win the division and the entire conference, especially with veteran QB Brett Rypien back at the helm. Boise has always been a team that no one wants to play in Boise on the blue turf. The main reason I have them third is because the road schedule. The out of conference games are vs Troy, @ Washington State, vs Virginia & @ BYU.
All four of those games could be good games although i think Virginia is still a year or two away. I have the Broncos going 2-2 in those matchups. On the road in conference the Broncos have matchups at San Diego State, Utah State, Colorado State & Fresno State. Those are tough road games that will most likely have the Broncos at 2-2 again. At home in Boise they get New Mexico, Wyoming, Nevada & Air Force. 4-0 is likely here but they need not slip for all four of those teams very well could be bowl teams. All together I have Boise taking a small step backwards and going 8-4 on the season.
4. NEW MEXICO LOBOS
Bob Davie is doing a pretty damn good job in making New Mexico relevant again. Sure, it’s not pretty since they run the ball about 100 times a game but this is a difficult team to face week in and week out. The offense should keep rolling as they retain 7 starters including star QB Lamar Jordan. The defense will probably be the reason New Mexico goes bowling or not. Davie is a smart coach and will try and limit other teams by running down the clock when he’s on offense.
The defense only returns three starters so the run game and clock management could be essential for the Lobos. The out of conference schedule has games vs Abilene Christian, vs New Mexico State, @ Tulsa & @ Texas A&M. I got the Lobos going 2-2 here but I wouldn’t be surprised if they upset Tulsa on the road. In conference the road games are at Boise State, Fresno State, Wyoming & San Diego State. 1-3 is what I’m thinking here which means they’ll need to take care of work at home. At home they get matchups vs Air Force, Colorado State, Utah State & UNLV. I got the Lobos at 3-1 here but let’s be honest the Air Force game could go either way. All together I got the Lobos going 6-6 and playing for another bowl game.
5. AIR FORCE FALCONS
I probably slept on them again. I just try to look at the talent and judge but somehow someway head coach Troy Calhoun will find a way to make me look like an idiot. He does it almost every year, i mean who could have seen a 10 win season for these Falcons last year? They only have 1 returning starter on defense thats one of the main reasons I have them 5th but they do return star QB Arion Worthman and Calhoun is easily one of the best coaches in the nation. So maybe I’ll be wrong yet again.
The out of conference schedule has matchups vs Virginia Military, @ Michigan, @ Navy & vs Army. I’m thinking 2-2 here since Navy seems to have the Falcons number recently. On the road in conference the Falcons have games at New Mexico, Nevada, Colorado State & Boise State. I’m thinking 1-3 or 2-2 here at best. At home in Colorado Springs they get games vs San Diego State, UNLV, Wyoming & Utah State. I’m thinking 2-2 but normally the Falcons always upset somebody and they’ll need to if they want to go bowling because I have them at 5-7 or 6-6.
6. UTAH STATE AGGIES
This is probably the hardest team in the MWC for me to predict. They return a senior QB in Kent Meyers and last year they lost a ton of close games. Still the division is loaded with good teams so even if the Aggies improve will they be able to do anything being stuck in this division? If so they’ll need the defense to return to 2015 defense that was a mountain west force.
The out of conference games are @ Wisconsin, vs Idaho State, @ Wake Forest, & vs BYU. I’m thinking 1-3 here but maybe they give Wake a game. On the road in conference they have matchups at San Jose State, UNLV, New Mexico & Air Force. 2-2 is what i’m thinking here. At home in Logan the Aggies get Colorado State, Wyoming, Boise State & Hawaii. That’s brutal. 1-3 is most likely which would make the Aggies 4-8 on the year. If they want to go bowling they’re going to need to pull some upsets at home.
1. SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS
This side of the conference really is terrible with exception to San Diego State. Even if the Aztecs have a off year they should still be playing for the MWC simply because the division is so weak. It’s not their fault but I’m sure they’ll take it. Rocky Long did great things at New Mexico in the 90s and now he’s doing the same in San Diego. Last year the Aztecs beat the hell out of Houston in a bowl game and this year they’ll get another couple shots to claim national headlines.
Donnel Pumphrey may be in the NFL now but they return QB Christian Chapman and the D is still loaded. The out of conference schedule has matchups vs UC Davis, @ Arizona State, vs Stanford, & vs Northern Illinois. They should be 2-2 here but maybe they can pull an upset. They shouldn’t take the Northern Illinois game lightly either for that could do them in. On the road in conference they have matchups at Air Force, UNLV, Hawaii, & San Jose State. I’m thinking 4-0 here but Air Force is always a tough matchup. At home in Diego they get Boise State, Fresno State, Nevada & New Mexico. I’m thinking 4-0 or 3-1 here. Which would have the Aztecs at 10-2 or 9-3 which would be yet another great season for head coach Rocky Long.
2. UNLV REBELS
Okay I’ll be honest picking the 2nd place in this division is fucking challenging. My first thought was Hawaii based on last year but their schedule is much more difficult. Then I thought Nevada since they are getting the grad transfer from Alabama at QB but then their star RB transferred to Iowa and half the team quit on the new coach. All of that could make for a perfect storm for the Rebels and third year head coach Tony Sanchez. The QB position should be in decent shape with highly recruited redshirt freshman Armani Rogers and Nebraska transfer Johnny Stanton.
The defense was the weakness last year and they only return two starters this year, but hey the rest of the division with the exception to San Diego State has problems too. The out of conference games are vs Howard, @ Idaho, @ Ohio State, & vs BYU. I’m thinking 1-3 here but maybe they can pull of the upset @ Idaho. On the road in conference they get games at Air Force, Fresno State, New Mexico & Nevada. I could see them going 2-2 here but those Fresno & Nevada games are basically toss ups. At home in Vegas they get San Jose State, San Diego State, Utah State & Hawaii. If they can go 3-1 here they might just be able to go bowling for the first time in a while. I’m thinking 2-2 and a 5-7 season.
3. HAWAII RAINBOW WARRIORS
Nick Rolovich did one of the best coaching jobs in the country last year going 7-7 and winning their bowl game. For that reason alone maybe I should have the Warriors at second place but after looking at their schedule I decided to have them 3rd. QB Dru Brown player pretty great last year for a freshman QB so there’s plenty of reason to be optimistic about Hawaii making another bowl game. The out of conference schedule has matchups @ Umass, vs Western Carolina, @ UCLA, & vs BYU.
I’m thinking 1-3 here but maybe they beat Umass although that games is awfully far away from Honolulu. The road games in conference are at Wyoming, Nevada, UNLV & Utah State. I’m thinking 1-3 here but the UNLV game is really a toss up so 2-2 is possible. At home on the island they get games vs Colorado State, San Jose State, San Diego State & Fresno State. 2-2 is what I’m thinking which would make Hawaii 4-8 for the season but Rolovich has things headed in the right direction.
4. NEVADA WOLFPACK
Much like Utah State this team is very hard for me to predict. I had the Wolfpack originally as my number two team in the west before half their team quit on the new coach and their star running back James Butler transferred to Iowa. The good news is that new head coach Jay Norvell has implemented the air raid offense and brings in Alabama transfer David Cornwell to be the man under center. So you know there’s talent there. The out of conference schedule has games @ Northwestern, vs Toledo, vs Idaho State, & @ Washington State.
1-3 is likely the outcome there for the other 3 teams beside Idaho State should be bowl teams. On the road in conference the pack have matchups at Fresno State, Colorado State, Boise State & San Diego State. Ouch. They better win the Fresno game because they’re not winning any of the others. So lets say 1-3 there. At home in Reno they welcome Hawaii, Air Force, San Jose State & UNLV. At this very moment I’m thinking 1-3 but I really am not sure who will win those games vs Hawaii and UNLV. All together I’m thinking a 3-9 or 4-8 season for first year head coach Jay Norvell.
5. FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS
Fresno State was awful last year but the team actually has some talented players. Now add in new coach Jeff Tedford who ten years ago had the California Golden Bears at #2 in the nation and maybe there’s hope in Fresno. I got to admit I’m excited to watch them this year, although Tedford should need more time to really contend. 2nd place in the division is really up in the air. Mix that with a proven coach and a solid quarterback in Chason Virgil and maybe they can turn a few heads.
The out of conference schedule is absolutely brutal with games vs Incarnate Word, @ Alabama, @ Washington & vs BYU. Whoever scheduled those games needs their head examined. 1-3 is a pretty safe bet there. On the road in conference the Dogs get games at San Jose State, San Diego State, Hawaii & Wyoming. I’m thinking 1-3 here but maybe they get passed Hawaii. The home games in Fresno are against Nevada, New Mexico, UNLV & Boise State. 2-2 would be the absolute best but I’m thinking 1-3 at best and maybe even 0-4. I’m thinking 3-9 for the year. The Tedford hire was great but give the man a lighter schedule and a little time.
6. SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS
Brent Brennan is now the new head coach in San Jose after coming over from Oregon State, and with that comes a new offensive system. The defense brings back 8 starters but the problem is they were not very good last year, but experience is good. The out of conference schedule is brutal with games vs South Florida, vs Cal Poly, @ Texas & @ Utah & @ BYU.
I’m thinking 1-4 there and Cal Poly could still give them a game. On the road in conference the Spartans get games at UNLV, Hawaii, Nevada & Colorado State. I doubt they win any of those but maybe they upset someone. 0-4 is what I’m thinking. At home in San Jose they welcome games vs Utah State, Fresno State, San Diego State & Wyoming. Maybe they sneak past Fresno because if not they go winless at home. All together give me the Spartans going 2-10 on the year or 1-11.