We are days away from the official start of the football season. In a conference like the Mountain West, there is always some unpredictable things that happen each season. Example: Air Force winning the Mountain division last year. This year will provide some surprises and excitement. Here is a list of my bold predictions heading into this season.
Bold Prediction 1: Boise State will sweep the non-conference slate, and it won't be close
The Broncos have a pretty favorable slate in the non-conference this year. A team that returns a lot of talent and isn't afraid to play anyone. The problem is most teams are scared to play them out of conference. Aside from the home game against Washington State (likely will be a shootout) they should cruise through their non conference games. People will bring up BYU every year but Boise should win that game comfortably. It's a revenge game for Boise at home, and that crowd will make it hostile.
Bold Prediction 2: UNLV will be the most improved team in the conference
The Running Rebels brought in one of the best recruiting classes in school history in the off season. Seven mid year JC transfers will be able to jump in and contribute right away. The offense has some explosive weapons, including Devonte Boyd who should put up some big numbers this season. The defense especially the secondary will be very good, and will cause explosive teams to struggle. This should be a much improved team this year with 7 potentially 8 wins could be within reach. This team will be fun to watch.
Bold Prediction 3: Colorado State will complete the front range sweep
The front range sweep will be a tough feat this year but I believe the Rams will do it. They would have to beat Wyoming, Air Force and Colorado which is a road game at the Academy which is always tough. Wyoming should be improved, but not good enough to beat the Rams. Colorado with them being a power 5 team will be tough, but with it being a rivalry game week one anything is possible.
Bold Prediction 4: Boise State will lose to a triple option team for the third consecutive season.
I mentioned earlier that Boise State will sweep the non conference slate. However I don't believe that they will finish the season undefeated. Their kryptonite the past couple seasons has been the triple option. Which is always a tough offense to prepare for. The Broncos lost both games last year to New Mexico and Air Force but those games were in back to back weeks. They catch a bit of a break this season with New Mexico being earlier and Air Force being the last game of the season. However they have to travel on the road for both matchups. They will lose one of the two with that game likely being Air Force.
Bold Prediction 5: The Conference will have multiple Power 5 upsets.
The non conference slate is going to be great. Most of these games are winnable matchups, and I believe the conference will upset several teams from the Power 5. Colorado State upsets Colorado, Boise beats Washington State and Oregon State, San Jose State beats Iowa State and SDSU upsets Cal. This should be a competitive conference this year and upsetting teams will catch attention of the rest of the country.
Bold Prediction 6: San Diego State will finish the regular season undefeated
The Aztecs return the most talent in the conference and many expect them to be very good this year. I remember watching the Hawaii Bowl on Christmas and the domination they showed against the Cincinnati was mind blowing. This team won all 8 of their conference games by double digits. Most of them by over 20 points. Their only weakness is the receivers and a quarterback that will have a lot more expectations this year. The defense will again be stout but in order for this to happen the offense has to be more than run dependent. I believe this team will finish undefeated going into the Mountain West title game.
Bold Prediction 7: The conference champion will be in a New Years 6 Bowl Game
Houston isn't sneaking up on anyone this season. They are a great team but I believe the strength of the Mountain West will boost them over an American Conference champion. This should be a much improved conference from a year ago and as mentioned earlier will catch the attention of the nation and the committee. That's if they pull off the upsets they can do.
Mountain Division Champ: Boise State 11-1
West Division Champ: San Diego State 12-0