Without BYU and Utah in the Mountain West, it’s been Boise State and everyone else. Boise State has dominated the recruiting rankings in this conference for years. Their 2015 recruiting class again ranks #1 in the conference. They finished 12-2 last year and capped the season off with an impressive bowl victory over Arizona. This is their conference. They own the league. They are the biggest game on the schedule for every other team in the league. But does that mean no other team has a chance to win the conference? We’re going to answer that question!
Colorado State and Utah State were competitive with Boise State last year, but that’s unlikely to happen again. Quite simply put – Boise State is head and shoulders above the other teams in the league. They have recruited at a much higher level than other teams in the Mountain West Conference and just have too much talent for anyone else to have a shot to win the conference right now.
We’ll know early on in the season if Boise State is nothing more than a Mountain West contender, or if they can compete nationally. They face Washington and BYU to begin the season. If they win those games, an unbeaten season is possible, if not likely. The Broncos return 17 starters but have minimal experience at quarterback and running back. Ryan Finley looks to be the frontfunner for the starting quarteback job. He threw just 27 passes last year. Jeremy McNichols, Cory Young, and Shan Williams-Rhodes will split time at running back, a position that is of concern to coach Bryan Harsin.
There probably won’t be a team that competes with Boise State in this conference. But there very well could be a couple of teams that come out of nowhere and earn some respect. Watch out for San Diego State and Colorado State. Utah State has won 19 games the past 2 seasons and brings back 14 experienced starters. Chuckie Keeton takes over as the full-time starter at quarterback and has shown some promise in the past. The question now is, can he perform consistently over a 12-game season? If so, Utah State can win 9-10 games. If not, it’s back to the middle-of-the-pack for the Aggies.
Colorado State lost a great coach to Florida, but new coach Mike Bobo inherits 14 returning starters from a 10-3 team. The entire secondary is back, and Colorado State could have one of the nation’s top pass defenses. Nick Stevens and Coleman Key will duke it out for the starting quarterback spot. The previous staff spoke highly of Key, so it will be interesting to see if Bobo listened.
The bottom of the Mountain West is always full of some of the worst teams in the country. The bottom of the conference looks just as bad this year. Nevada, Fresno State, San Jose State, Hawaii, UNLV, New Mexico, and Wyoming are in for long years. Nevada could win 5-6 games only because they’re going to face most of these teams on this list. Hey, somebody has to win!
Process of elimination will tell you that Air Force is the lone remaining team in the Mountain West Conference. Air Force appears to be a team that could win 8 games if the breaks go their way and 6-6 or 7-5 if they don’t. The Falcons went 10-3 last year but have some serious question marks on defense. They return just 4 defensive starters from an average defensive team. Air Force also lacks experience at quarterback and must replace 3 offensive line starters. But, as always, Air Force is going to be a threat because of the mental toughness their players display and the triple-option offense they run that many teams don’t know how to defend.
- Mountain West Mountain Champs: San Diego State
- Mountain West West Champs: Boise State
- Mountain West Champs: Boise State
- Mountain West Offensive POY: Chuckie Keeton, QB Utah State
- Mountain West Defensive POY: Kamalei Correa, DE Boise State