Welcome to the tenth and final preseason edition of “the Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” This week I will be looking into my crystal ball and making some predictions for the 2018 season. Feel free to leave your own predictions in the comments below or save this article so you can rub it in at the end of the season. Don’t forget, only four more days until Mountain West football!
The Aggies are flying under the radar for the most part. They showed some improvement this past season and I expect them to factor into the discussion for the Mountain title. Make sure you circle that game against Boise State the last week of the season. Outside of Michigan State, the Aggies have a manageable non-conference schedule and face Hawaii, San Jose State, and UNLV in the West. Depending on how they fare against Wyoming and Colorado State, the Aggies could realistically be headed toward an 8-4 or 9-3 season. I expect Matt Wells to receive consideration for coach of the year and the P5 schools will likely come calling. I see a second place finish in the Mountain in the future for the Aggies.
Will this be the year that the Wolfpack reemerges as a credible football program? In his second year at the helm, Jay Norvell has some talented options on offense that will be able to put a lot of points on the board. We will learn a lot about the Wolfpack from their non-conference schedule, they have some intriguing matchups against Vanderbilt, Oregon State, and Toledo. All three of those games could go either way, if the Wolfpack manage to win two out of those three, they could be in for a special season. I see a bowl game and a third place finish in the West in store for the Wolfpack.
The Rams deserve credit for scheduling a difficult non-conference schedule the features three opponents from Power Five conferences. The Rams will face Arkansas, Florida, and rival Colorado before they begin league play. The Rams do have one of the easier Mountain West schedules, as they face Hawaii, Nevada, and San Jose State from the west division. We will learn a lot about the Rams during their week zero matchup against Hawaii, if they are going to contend in the Mountain West, they should be able to handle the Rainbow Warriors. The Rams will have to overcome being one of the youngest teams in the country and hope to strike gold on the grad transfer market with KJ Carta-Samuels. The manageable conference schedule will allow the Rams to go bowling, but they will not contend for a conference title.
Everything points toward New Mexico continuing to go into a downward spiral. Bob Davie looks like a coach on his way out. Frankly, I was surprised he was not fired after last season. However, with the financial issues that the department is currently going through, firing coaches isn’t much of an option. Davie has been forced to rely heavily on junior college transfers, which can be quite a gamble. The Lobos have a manageable nonconference schedule outside of Wisconsin, but along with Boise State, they have the toughest Mountain West schedule as they have to face both Fresno and San Diego. I expect the Lobos to finish 3-9 and Bob Davie will likely have coached his final game.
Which Mountain West team do you think is trending down? Which team is going to be a surprise this year? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.