The Mountain West Conference is my first stop outside of the Power Five which have already been covered. Today I’m looking at the Mountain Division which in a conference called the Mountain West makes this a little weird.
Boise State 7/5 – Bryan Harsin takes over for Chris Peterson who has left the Broncos for Washington. BSU comes off an uncharacteristic 7-5 season in 2013. The good news is that the Broncos return 15 starters (7Off/8Def) and that should help the Broncos return to normal prominence. The schedule is very favorable once they get past the opener in Atlanta against Ole Miss. They get Fresno State, Utah State and BYU at home.
Utah State 11/4 – Matt Wells enters year two following a 9-5 campaign last year. This year will be a challenge with just eight starters (3Off/5Def) returning. The road schedule is no picnic as the Aggies have to open at Tennessee, play at Boise State in the finale and have trips to Arkansas State and BYU as well. This is a solid team defensively and don’t forget they took USC down to the wire before losing 17-14 in 2013.
Colorado State 18/1 – Garrett Grayson returns following a year where he threw for over 3,500 yards and 23 touchdowns from his quarterback position. He’ll need to be good right out of the gate as they open with rival Colorado in Denver and the travel to Boise State the week after. Following a bye, they head East to play at Boston College. Should they get through that, the rest of the schedule isn’t to bad.
Wyoming 30/1 – The Cowboys went 5-7 last season and that resulted in a coaching change. Craig Bohl takes over in Laramie and does so with 16 starters (7Off/9Def) coming back. The offense will be more of a pro style rather than the spread run in past seasons. Wyoming’s road schedule is tough and that’s putting it mildly. They have trips to Oregon, Michigan State, Colorado State and Fresno State.
Air Force 30/1 – For the first time in six seasons the Falcons didn’t go to a bowl game. In fact they went just 2-10. The defense has seven starters returning but this unit gave up over 40 points per game last year so maybe that isn’t such a good thing. The offense will go back to more of a ground game after flirting with the pass more than usual. The Falcons get Boise State, Navy, Nevada and Colorado State at home.
New Mexico 75/1 – The Lobos return seven starters on an offense that ran the ball almost 80% of the time last year. Head Coach Bob Davie will stick with the triple option attack in 2014. The larger problem was the defense that gave up an average of almost 43 points per game. The Lobos will host UTEP and Arizona State in their first two games and then have six road trips in their final 10 games.
The Pick: I have to believe Boise State is the cream of the crop in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West Conference. They have more talent than anyone else in the conference. Challenges will come from Utah State who has a very good defensive unit and if Colorado State gets hot behind their quarterback then who knows? The bottom of the division is not a threat in my opinion.