The dead of the off season is listed with preseason polls and huge countdowns, and the Orlando Sentinel has a great college football blog and is counting down all 120 FBS teams. They do not like the Mountain West, so far, with three teams being represented in the first thirteen selections. They have UNLV at 110, New Mexico at 109, and Colorado State at 108. The bright side for Aztecs fans is that San Diego State looks to not be the worst team in the league; albeit these thoughts are from someone way out in Florida.
As a defender of the MWC these rankings seem a bit low for at least Colorado State, because from 108-120 the countdown has three Sun Belt teams tying for the most along with the Mountain West for the most teams to date. New Mexico will be not much better and their ranking is justified and perhaps UNLV but I think the 2009 Rebel team gave up last year on head coach Mike Sanford. Colorado State did is breaking in a brand new quarterback and lost their offensive line, but their defense is going to be decent and they have a stable of solid backs, so their ranking seems quite low.
Here is an excerpt from their countdown for the teams starting with UNLV who is at 110:
Outlook: There is reason for optimism at UNLV with plenty of experience coming back for Hauck to work with in his first season with the Rebels. The biggest challenge for the former Montana head coach will be finding a pass-rushing presence on defense and getting steady quarterback play on offense. A tough out of conference schedule that includes Wisconsin at home and West Virginia on the road will test Hauck's team early.
Quarterback play is not the problem since all three on the roster are solid, but just finding one that is the right fit could be the issue. Defense a big reason for their struggles last year, and a lot of improvement will be needed for them to be competitive in 2010.
New Mexico did enough in the off season, I guess, to be considered better then UNLV. Perhaps the four star recruit Calvin Smith the Lobos snagged made the difference, or there has been no legal trouble in a while. Here is what the Sentinel has to say about New Mexico:
Outlook: With several key playmakers returning on defense and six starters coming back on offense, the Lobos will have some talent and experience in Locksley's second year. Combine that with an athletic group of incoming freshmen and the Lobos have reason to believe they can improve from last season.
Outlook: A highly touted recruiting class comprised of a handful of Central Florida players will add some energy to the program. An experienced defense will likely be much improved and that should help compensate for a fairly young offense. The ability of either freshman quarterback to step up will determine how much the Rams can improve.