To go along with what ESPN has for their 3 things to watch for the MWC in the fall here is my list to accompany the ESPN list which is below.
Here is my three things to look for:
1. Can anyone dethrone BYU or at least beat them once this year. New Mexico and Utah look to have the best chance to do that. Utah has 10 of their 11 starters back on offense and get Matt Asiata and Brent Casteel back after early injuries. New Mexico always plays BYU close and they do get Rodney Ferguson back after being ineligible for their bowl game last year. BYU has to play at Utah, TCU, and Air Force for conference play.
2. Can Steve Fairchild the new coach at Colorado State do what Troy Calhoun at Air Force did in his first year? Fairchild will have one of the best running attacks in the conference with Kyle Bell fully recovered from his ACL tear, and Gatrell Johnson III and toss in that super stud TE Korey Sperry will be back after an early season knee injury.
3. Will Wyoming ever live up to the hype? The Cowboys have a talented defense that only allowed one player all last year to allow a 100 yard rusher. Also the Pokes need to finish strong instead of faltering like last years team that started 4-1 then did not even qualify for a bowl game. Wyoming has a realistic chance to go 6-1 with home games against a rebuilding Air Force, I-AA North Dakota State, Ohio, San Diego State, and Utah. If Wyoming can go at worst 4-3 at home and some how manage to go 3-2 on their road that would be a great year, but their road schedule is tough with games at BYU, New Mexico, TCU, Tennessee, and UNLV. With a non conference schedule of Ohio, North Dakota State, Bowling Green, and then the tough one at Tennessee the Cowboys have a good chance of bowling.
|Three Things I Can't Wait To See This Fall In The Mountain West|
|Ivan Maisel||Mark Schlabach|
1. Brigham Young has won 10 consecutive games. The Cougars have five of the eight returning players from the all-conference team. Yes, there are only three returning starters on defense, and none of them are in the secondary, but when hasn't Bronco Mendenhall been able to field a tough defense? BYU must do better than last season's 1-2 start. Consecutive games at Washington and home against UCLA (again) will determine whether the Cougars have a shot at a BCS bid when Mountain West play begins.2. New Mexico has six returning starters on each side of the ball, yet this figures to be a rebuilding year for the Lobos. Only one offensive lineman, tackle Erik Cook, is back, and four of the departed players made the All-MWC first team. The defensive line is just as green and the schedule is harder. (Hello, Texas A&M and Tulsa; goodbye, Sacramento State.) Rocky Long is 61-61 in 10 seasons in Albuquerque. Unless the Lobos find some linemen, another .500 season awaits.
3. The MWC has a great passing legacy it isn't living up to. BYU junior QB Max Hall, the leading passer among the returnees, finished only 30th nationally in 2007. Blame a league with an increased emphasis on defense, and blame youth. Five of the six returning starters at QB are sophomores or juniors. Look for Hall and sophomore Andy Dalton of TCU to break out.
|1. After winning 11 games in consecutive seasons, TCU stumbled to an 8-5 record in 2007. A team that was expected to contend for a lucrative BCS at-large berth ended up finishing the season in the Texas Bowl. Gary Patterson and the Horned Frogs will have to try to bounce back without top defensive ends Tommy Blake and Chase Ortiz.2. BYU coach Bronco Mendenhall isn't shy about his team's goals for the 2008 season. He coined the motto "Quest for Perfection" during spring practice, and he might not be overstating his team's chances this coming season. BYU returns 10 of 11 starters on offense and will be as explosive as any offense west of the Mississippi River. The Cougars bring the longest winning streak in the nation (10 games) into the season, which will be tested in back-to-back games at Washington and against UCLA in September.
3. Remember when Wyoming's Joe Glenn was considered the hottest under-the-radar coach in America? The Cowboys started the 2007 season with a 4-1 record, including a 23-3 upset of Virginia, but then lost six of their last seven games to finish 5-7. Glenn will try to get his team back on track by being more physical with a grinding running game on offense. The Cowboys also have to learn how to win road games.