Week 1 is in the books and although we are in extremely small-sample size land, there are still some things going on in the MWC that are worth talking about. Consider this a snapshot of the week. Some of these things may hold true as the season continues on. Others may be a flash in the pan and we will all laugh (or cry) about them in November. Anyway, here are some initial thoughts:
Surprises are good.. unless they are bad.
Hawaii has been the talk of the conference, and for good reason. They have played two games already and won both of them pretty comfortably, although their strategy of optional defense made it less comfortable than preferred. But the run-and-shoot is making the Rainbow Warriors relevant again. For a team that a month ago most would projecting they would struggle to win 4-5 games, people (including us) are saying that playing in a bowl game seems attainable. Of course this all happened before Labor Day and teams will now have film on them, but they have easily been the biggest (good) surprise so far.
As for the disappointing surprise, that is easily Colorado State through two games. It’s a balance to be sure. If Hawaii is really that good, then is Colorado State really that bad? Watching them against Colorado, their defense is still atrocious and their offense didn’t do as well. There is still tons of time to turn things around, but how can they? They may be able to our-score some teams during conference play, but very hard to see that happening over the next two games. One of our off-season questions was if the Rams would stop finishing the year 7-6. Don’t think any of us saw it happening in this fashion.
The Mountain West can dominate FCS opponents... well mostly.
The MWC sure put a hurting on some teams this weekend. Fresno State dismantled Idaho in every single aspect of the game that is football. Air Force shut out something called Stony Brook. Nevada’s high-octane offense was too much for Portland State. New Mexico blew out Incarnate Word (although they sure gave up a lot on defense as well). Even in Week 0, Wyoming embarrassed New Mexico State (edit: NMSU isn’t an FCS school, but they way they got handed, might as well have been). It was almost a perfect weekend against FCS teams. Almost.
Then there is San Jose State. In a game that on paper looked like their most winnable one, the Spartans managed to lose. No disrespect intended to UC-Davis, who played a good game, but they lost to an FCS team. To add insult to injury, since it was a home game for SJSU, they actually paid the Aggies to come in and beat them. As we are constantly reminded, that’s why they play the games.
Some competitive games against Power 5 teams... but not the ones anyone would’ve thought.
Going into Week 1, if someone told me the MWC would play two strong showings against power 5 teams and 3 somewhat blowout games, I would’ve believed them. But I would’ve guessed that SDSU and Wyoming would’ve been the two best chances the conference had for wins. Utah State and UNLV were sure to get destroyed, right? Wrong.
Utah State almost pulled an upset for the ages. They just ran out of gas at the end. UNLV also played pretty darn well for most of the game before the more talented team ran away with it, but they have nothing to be sorry about. On the other hand, SDSU and Wyoming were expected to be closer games. The Aztecs won last year and didn’t show the same intensity from the 2017 win. Wyoming’s defense vs. the air-raid of Washington State was an intriguing matchup, but it quickly fizzled as the Cowboys couldn’t figure it out.
The MWC plays 6 games against Power 5 teams this week. Emerging with 2 wins would be quite the accomplishment.
Boise State lived up to the pre-season hype... for one week anyway.
They have been a trendy pick for the top Group of 5 team and New Year’s Bowl representative for months now. Their Week 1 matchup against Troy was being billed as a big Group of 5 matchup and there were some whispers that it could end up as quite a close game. They started the game with giving up a sack on the first play and early on it was 7-7. Then the Broncos found their groove and the game was never in doubt after the first quarter. Rypien looked like the quarterback that ended last year and not the one who was bench in the last year’s meeting against Troy. Their defense remained solid even without new Dallas Cowboy LVE. For one week, they looked like the best team in the Group of 5.
But it’s just one week. It’s hard to really judge Fresno State after playing lowly Idaho (they probably won’t average 79 points per game, but they certainly looked impressive). UCF also had a blow out win and they figure to be neck and neck with Boise State all season.
Well there you have it. What are some of your first impressions of the teams in the Mountain West Conference? Start a discussion and let us know.