I recently picked up my copy of Phil Steele's preview magazine and I decided to go through and write a few posts about how he rates the Mountain West, players from the league in his position and unit rankings and other interesting stuff that was within the magazine. This first post will go into a little detail of the national rankings.
Steele's top-40 preseason list is one that predicts how a team will finish and that it is NOT a power poll. Now with that out of the way Steele has only three Mountain West teams in the top-40, but Steele adds 12 more teams to have a list of 52 that includes a fourth Mountain West team.
3. Boise State
30. Air Force
44. San Diego State
Seeing Boise State at three may come to a surprise since most other post-spring rankings have them closer to the 10 spot then in the top five. Steele does provide explanation of his ranking for the Broncos is because of their schedule and also that they rate in seven of eight in Steele's individual rankings.
As for TCU, Steele cites the gradual improvement of the recruiting job that head coach Gary Patterson has done over the past few years, and that the TCU defense has been the top-ranked unit nationally for the past three season. Steele also mentions that he has TCU as a favorite in every game except with their trip to Boise State.
For Air Force, Steele believes this is the Falcons best unit and could reach double-digit wins. Steele has Air Force favored in nine of their games.
Not bad to have four teams in the top-50, but after these teams.
As for Steele's projected order of finish it goes like this:
1. Boise State
3. Air Force
4. Colorado State
5. San Diego State
7. New Mexico
That seems odd since he has San Diego State at 44th in regards to where a team will finish, but Colorado State is not in the top 52. It could be that Steele has Colorado State projected as one of his most improved teams for 2011. Turnover margin is a factor Steele uses to determine what teams will fall or rise, and New Mexico had a -12 turnover margin and according to Steele is a team that should improve. The Lobos can not get worse then a -12 turnover margin, so if they even cut that to -6 the Lobos should get another win or two.
Steele also publishes his power poll for all 120 teams, and this is how he rates each team talent-wise, and here is how he rates the Mountain West teams.
4. Boise State
48. Air Force
60. San Diego State
87. Colorado State
108. New Mexico
As for conference rankings Steele has the Mountain West the sixth rated conference for the second straight year and again ahead of the Big East.
Check back periodically as I look at the bowl projections, unit rankings and other goodness from the Phil Steele magazine.