We are days away from the first games of the 2018 regular season. It’s the time of the year where confidence is at an all-time high. Every team thinks that they’re going to a bowl and has a chance at a conference title. Unfortunately for some reality sets in and confidence turns into anger and misery. Here are some of my bold predictions for the upcoming season. Some fans will be extremely happy and some will be very angry. All I ask is don’t take this too seriously. Let the madness begin!
Prediction 1: Nevada will have a top 10 passing offense in the nation
Nevada is returning every offensive playmaker from last season including QB Ty Gangi. Who threw for over 2,000 yards and 25 touchdowns. He didn’t even play in every game last season. I remember when he torched the Colorado State defense (A lot of teams did) for 428 yards and 4 touchdowns last season. They also return Freshman All- American McLane Mannix, and junior Brendan O’Leary – Orange. The Wolfpack will be a prolific offense but if they want to go bowling it will be up to the defense.
Prediction 2: New Mexico will begin a search for a new head coach mid-season
Bob Davie has turned around the program from what it was at the beginning of the decade. They won a share of the mountain division just two years ago. There have been some issues off the field that have come to light recently that has put a microscope on the Lobos program. Davie was suspended 30 days in the spring as an outside firm investigated. That firm recommended strong actions to ensure the problems didn’t occur again. However Bob Davie kept his job. This is going to be an interesting season, it could either go really well or it could go really bad. The start to their season includes a trip to Wisconsin who will likely be in the top 7, and a road game to instate rival New Mexico State. I believe the Lobos will lose both games in which the later will add smoldering fire to what is already a hot seat. Finishing non - conference play against Liberty who upset Baylor last season. Along with conference road trips to UNLV and Colorado State I believe will seal the Fate of Davie. New Mexico will begin the search for head coach in October.
Prediction 3: Colorado State will go into their bye week with a 4-1 record.
After Colorado State opens against Hawaii on August 25th, they begin a stretch in which they play three straight teams from the Power 5. That includes a trip out to Gainesville to take on the Florida Gators. I believe those are all winnable games. Florida is bringing in a new coach and has an offense that can continue to struggle, Arkansas will also be bringing in a new coach, but they will be traveling to Fort Collins in early September in which it could be a hot early evening match up. Colorado is always a coin flip, which the game taking place at Mile High Stadium. At the end of that stretch I see the Rams being 3-1. The only loss being a competitive low scoring loss to Florida. If that game was being played in Fort Collins it could be a different result. However, I believe the humidity and the heat will be used as an advantage for the Gators. The Rams will win hard fought game against Arkansas. They’ll beat Colorado because it seems like the Buffaloes will over look that game with a revival of Nebraska looming. Illinois State will be a tough game as they’re a top 25 FCS program, but I believe the Rams will win comfortably. A 4-1 start isn’t a bad start going into the the meat of conference play.
Prediction 4: Boise State will go undefeated and crash the NY6.
The Broncos are a popular pick to make the New Years Six for the second time in 5 years. They have a lot of players returning from a team that won the conference last year and beat Oregon comfortably in the Las Vegas Bowl. This year expectations will be high as usual. I’ve always thought that Brett Rypien was the best quarterback in the conference, miles better than Josh Allen. I believe this year that they will run through their schedule and finish undefeated. However, it will be a hard-fought undefeated season because I believe it will present multiple challenges. The biggest scares will come from Air Force who has given them some fits in the past. The other one will come from San Diego State, as the running game can present some issues. This will be a gritty undefeated season in which the Mountain West will represent the New Years Six for the second time.
Prediction 5: Wyoming will take a significant step back despite the top defense.
The Cowboys will open the season up against New Mexico State which is a toss-up. The next two games are Washington State in which their air raid offense can present some challenges, and a Missouri team who is a top NFL prospect at quarterback. The defense will be stout, but the offense is the reason for this prediction. Josh Allen is gone, and they are putting it in the hands of a redshirt freshmen. Tyler Vander Waal will be at the helm this season who beat out senior Nick Smith. The receivers are the same from last year, I didn’t make any excuses for horrible play by Allen. It will be interesting to see if the offense can take a big step forward. The defense will keep them in games, but they won’t be able to score enough points to win games. I see five wins or less this season unless the offense significantly improves.
Prediction 6: UNLV will be the most improved team in the conference
Last season the Running Rebels lost their opening game to Howard University. Which is known as the biggest upsets in the school’s history. However, the Rebels didn’t let the loss get to them. Fighting hard last season and winning close games allowed for them to be in the conversation until the end for bowl eligibility. Losing the final game to rival Nevada put an end to the season. It’s year four for Tony Sanchez so its time for a breakthrough. Especially with the new stadium coming with the Oakland (Vegas) Raiders the fans are going to want to see results. That’s why I believe the Running Rebels will be the most improved team in the conference. Led by Armani Rogers the offense finished 41st in the nation last year including 18th in rushing. He will need to become a more consistent passer for this team to take the next step. He should have no excuses with the weapons he will have. The defense should improve with the addition of new coordinator Tim Skipper (CSU and Fresno fans know him well.) The schedule sets up for this to be a great season. They avoid Boise, Colorado State and Wyoming, and the only definite loss I see is when they travel to play USC on September 1st. I see potentially an 8-4 or 9-3 season on the horizon for the Running Rebels.
Well there you have it, the crazy bold predictions for this upcoming season. This should be a wild competitive season for the Mountain West with some interesting storylines. Some will like these predictions, and some won’t. I will follow up at the end of the season to see whether I was right or wrong. Good luck to all the teams and fans this season football is almost here!