Monday, August 19, 2013

2013 Mountain West Preview

2013 Predicted Standings

Mountain Division
1.  Boise State Broncos (6-2, 9-4)
2.  Utah State Aggies (6-2, 9-3)
3.  Wyoming Cowboys (4-4, 7-5)
4.  Air Force Falcons (4-4, 6-6)
5.  Colorado State Rams (2-6, 5-8)
6.  New Mexico Lobos (1-7, 3-9)

South Division
1.  Fresno State Bulldogs (7-1, 12-1)
2.  San Jose State Spartans (6-2, 9-3)
3.  San Diego State Aztecs (5-3, 7-5)
4.  Nevada Wolfpack (4-4, 5-7)
5.  UNLV Running Rebels (2-6, 4-8)
6.  Hawaii Rainbows (1-7, 1-11)

Mountain West Championship Game:  Fresno State Bulldogs over Boise State Broncos

BCS Busting Bulldogs - If you have been reading my previews, you may have noticed one spot remaining in the final BCS Bowl Games and assumed that it would be Notre Dame or Boise State filling that slot. Instead it is Fresno State, an experienced team returning 15 starters that was embarrassed in their bowl game a season ago, giving them the motivation to come back stronger in 2013.  Senior quarterback Derek Carr looks to out-due his brother's legacy by taking the Bulldogs to the BCS.  Davante Adams is one of the top receivers in the country not named Marqise Lee.  On defense, 8 starters return from a defense that was #22 in the Nation in 2012 and #2 against the pass.  Finally, the schedule sets up with tough early games against Rutgers and Boise State at home.  I am expecting big things out of Fresno State in 2013.

Mountain West New Kids - Utah State and San Jose State both join the Mountain West from the WAC and I expect both to have a successful initial campaign and cause immediate problems for the Mountain West elite.  Both teams bring back experienced quarterbacks, with Chuckie Keaton at Utah State and David Fales at San Jose State.  Both teams had top 25 defenses a year ago, although San Jose State must replace 6 starters on theirs.  The unknown lies with the coaching, as the Spartans and Aggies will both be breaking in first year head coaches in the new league.  Despite that fact, I would be shocked if both teams were not contenders for the Mountain West Championship Game.

Quick Hits:
  • Boise State will not be bad, I just think at some point they need a slight rebuild.  With only 8 starters back this year, a step back would be natural.  They have proved people wrong many times before, but it is just my gut feeling with this team and its difficult road schedule.
  • Nevada has been a perennial contender in the Mountain West, but I also see the Wolfpack taking a step back.  The defense is porous and they have a road schedule that includes UCLA, Florida State, San Diego State, Boise State and Fresno State.  
  • Either Wyoming or Colorado State will bounce back and be bowl-eligible in 2013.  I am going with the Cowboys, but their success hinges on a full year of health for Brett Smith.
Best Non-Conference Schedule:  Nevada.  Road games at UCLA and at Florida State coupled with a visit from BYU makes for quite the non-conference schedule.

Worst Non-Conference Schedule:  New Mexico.  Nobody will argue UTSA, UTEP, Pittsburgh or New Mexico State among the Nation's elite.

Thank You Mountain West Schedule:  Utah State.  The Aggies get to host Boise State and have the easiest cross-over schedule with both UNLV and Hawaii.

Curse You Mountain West Schedule:  New Mexico.  The Lobos play at Boise State, plus have cross-over games at San Diego State and at Fresno State.

Best Player:  Derek Carr, Fresno State.  It is a toss-up between Carr and Fales, but team success gives Carr the edge this season.

Best Newcomer:  Josh Quezada, Fresno State.  The BYU transfer will step in for the departed Robbie Rouse at running back in Fresno State's vaunted attack.  The guess is that hardly anyone will notice the change.

Weekly Games to Watch
Aug 31 - Boise State at Washington

Sept 7- San Jose State at Stanford

Sept 14 - Nevada at Florida State

Sept 20 - Boise State at Fresno State

Sept 27 - Utah State at San Jose State

Oct 5 - Air Force at Navy

Oct 12 - Boise State at Utah State

Oct 19 - Colorado State at Wyoming

Oct 26 - Fresno State at San Diego State

Nov 2 - Nevada at Fresno State

Nov 9 - San Diego State at San Jose State

Nov 16 - Wyoming at Boise State

Nov 23 - Boise State at San Diego State

Nov 29 - Fresno State at San Jose State

Dec 7 - Mountain West Championship Game

Bowl Line-Up
BCS Fiesta Bowl:  Fresno State Bulldogs
Las Vegas Bowl:  San Jose State Spartans
Poinsettia Bowl:  Boise State Broncos
Armed Forces Bowl:  Utah State Aggies
Hawaii Bowl:  San Diego State Aztecs
Famous Idaho Potato Bowl:  Air Force Falcons
New Mexico Bowl:  Wyoming Cowboys

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