Here are some more team previews for the upcoming Mountain West season, however these are a little different from the previous previews. These previews are from two writers who cover their team on a daily basis.
After going 5-7 last season for its best finish in five years, there is plenty of optimism UNLV will take the next step and make a bowl for the first time since 2000. With coach Mike Sanford heading into his fifth season, anything less than a bowl bid would be considered a disappointment. If he increases the victory total by just one over last season and makes the postseason, that is an indication the program is on the right track.
Totally agree with Mark that UNLV must get the team to at least a bowl appearance. I am a big optimistic on the Rebels and think they have a real chance to get into that four spot and possibly knock off one of the big three in the league.
Troy Calhoun's first two teams at Air Force clearly exceeded expectations.
In 2007, coming off three straight losing seasons, the Falcons were picked to finish seventh in the Mountain West Conference. But they more than doubled their victory total from the previous season, going 9-3, finishing second in the league and securing a bowl bid for the first time since 2002.
Last season, with graduation losses leaving the Falcons young and inexperienced, Air Force was picked to finish sixth in the MWC. But again the Falcons performed better than most could imagine, going 8-4 in the regular season and earning a bid to a second straight bowl.
Air Force won't sneak up on anyone this season. The Falcons were picked to finish fourth in the MWC in the preseason media poll -- just behind the "Big Three" of TCU, BYU and Utah. And while breaking into the top three in the league would be an impressive accomplishment, most fans would expect the Falcons at least to stay on top of the second tier of MWC squads.
Doing that and securing another bowl bid would be a good start for what could be considered a successful campaign in any year at the academy. But 2009 cannot be judged a complete success unless Air Force finally wins back the Commander-in-Chief's Trophy by defeating Navy and Army. The Falcons used to dominate the service academies' round-robin, but Navy has won the trophy the last six years. Air Force must beat its two top rivals or its recent resurgence still will be incomplete.
There you have it two previews from guys that cover their respective teams on a daily basis. Thanks again to Mike Anderson who writes about UNLV from the Las Vegas Review-Journal and Jake Schaller who covers Air Force Falcon football for the The Gazette - Colorado Springs