The 2018 MWC football season was a successful one for the conference in the sense that three different teams finished with ten or more victories. Looking ahead to 2019, that doesn’t look to happen again. The question becomes, how many teams will finish with ten or more wins? As a bonus, which teams do you think they will be?
Jeremy - I’m going with two, Boise State and Fresno State. I think the Broncos depth and schedule enable another 10+ win season that seems to be a near given with this program at this point. The Broncos have finished with fewer than 10 wins in a season only four times since 2000 (!!). Fresno State loses a ton of talent going into this season, but I think their coaching gets them to 10 wins on the spot. Utah State and San Diego State will finish just outside of this threshold. The Aggies combination of lost talent to graduation/early draft entrants + new coaching staff + an unusually brutal schedule means 8-9 wins sounds more grounded. San Diego State will bounce back from a 7-6 season, but not quite to 10 total wins. Hawaii, Nevada, Wyoming are the long shots to come close to 10 wins (although all three could easily disappoint).
Zach- I’m going with one in the regular season, Boise State. I think another team or two might get their with the bowl game. Boise State has a favorable schedule, they shouldn’t lose a home game and 4-2 on the road seems manageable. I have seen a lot of hype about Utah State, but they have to play Boise State, LSU, Wake Forest, SDSU, BYU, and Fresno State. I think they are in for a reality check. Fresno State and SDSU will both be around the 8-9 win mark. SDSU has a manageable non-conference schedule, with their toughest games coming against UCLA and BYU, if they split those, it will come down to their game with Fresno State. Meanwhile, Fresno State has a tougher slate with games against USC and Minnesota, if they win one of those games it will get interesting.
Matt- I’m going with two in the regular season, with maybe one crossing it during bowl season. I’ve got Boise winning 10+ games, because it’s just what they do. The other one in the regular season is Utah State. Yes, they have to play LSU and Boise. But I don’t see any other real land mines on their schedule. I think Fresno State will get to 10 during bowl season, like they did in 2017. They’re just replacing so many pieces to be really assured, even with a conducive schedule to wins. Although I wouldn’t be shocked to see SDSU get to 10, and USU fall short.
Jacob - Since the conference expanded to twelve teams in the 2013 season, an average of 2.5 teams have finished with ten wins or more each year (this includes bowl games). For the past three years, three Mountain West teams have won at least ten games. I think two is the floor here, with Boise State and SDSU as the most likely candidates. The Aztecs have a favorable non-conference slate (vs. Weber State, at NMSU, at UCLA, and vs. BYU), while the Broncos are the Broncos. Fresno State and Utah State are the next most likely picks, but both have difficult non-con schedules that could hold them back.
That’s boring, though. If you’d like to add a little chaos to the equation, let’s talk about Hawaii (and Hawaii is essentially chaos incarnate under Nick Rolovich). The Rainbow Warriors get two vulnerable PAC-12 teams (Arizona and Oregon State) at home early in the season. Win those two games, and we are delightfully on track for a ten-win season on the islands for the first time since 2010. It also never hurts to get a thirteenth regular season game and two winnable inter-divisional MWC games either!
Alex - I’ll go with Boise State. Utah State is a possibility. The Aggies draw a tougher schedule than last year, with Wake Forest, LSU, BYU, Fresno, and Boise themselves. Boise’s toughest opponents are Florida State and Utah State.
Based off of preseason projections alone, there’s a much better chance for Boise to reach 10 wins than USU.
The biggest difference is the level of P5 opponents. Boise opens the season against Florida State at a “neutral site” game in Jacksonville, FL. The Seminoles are Boise’s lone P5 foe for the year, while the Aggies face off against Wake Forest to start the year and take a trip to Death Valley to play LSU in October.
Austin - With the Mountain West traditionally being a top-heavy conference, it can be almost assured that there will be multiple double-digit win teams. Boise State, of course, is the safest bet you can make. Even with uncertainty at the quarterback position, the Broncos have proven time and time again that they won’t miss a beat on offense. They have a favorable schedule with a lone Power 5 team on the slate — a question mark filled Florida State squad. I expect BSU to earn its fourth-straight 10-win campaign.
The second double-digit win team is a little trickier to predict. Utah State sounds like a solid choice coming off one of its best seasons in program history, but the new coaching staff leaves me skeptical of a repeat performance.
San Diego State should be able to bounce back from a disastrous final month in 2018. With an absolutely stacked defense and running back corps, I’m expecting the Aztecs to rebound in a big way and contend for what looks to be a weak West Division. Rocky Long has the perfect roster for his coaching philosophy. He’ll take advantage of it and grab 10 wins, even if he needs a bowl victory to do it.
Mike - Two is the number that keeps jumping to mind, but not quite as sure on which teams will exactly. I’m expecting a drop off from Utah State, so let’s take them out of the running. Boise State seems like a pretty safe guess, as they routinely get to or near the 10-win mark. Their combination of top talent and fairly easy schedule help with this. For my second team, I’m torn between Fresno State and San Diego State. I think both get at least 8 with little problem. The Aztecs are likely to bounce back and the Bulldogs should be due for some regression right? Right? I went against them last year and they proved me wrong, but I’ll stick my neck out for them this year. So let’s say the four teams I mentioned all reach 8 wins and the Broncos and Bulldogs get to 10. But I’ll hedge my bet and say don’t be surprised if the Aztecs replace Fresno.
Three: Boise State, Fresno State & San Diego State.
Boise State and Fresno State largely speak for themselves. Kudos to Austin for his comment above. He sort of stole some of my thunder here. I think the Aztecs are a sleeper team for 2019 since many are discounting them after a disappointing 2018 season. However, the reality is that San Diego State returns some good talent on both sides of the ball. More importantly, the schedule sets up pretty nicely for the Aztecs. Non-conference games should be easier with the toughest being at UCLA and home against BYU. Both are very winnable. Also, no Boise State in conference play. The toughest conference games (Utah State & Fresno State) are at home. The Aztecs bounce back in a big way in 2019, winning 10 games.
Isaiah- I only see one double-digit win team coming out in the regular season, the Boise State Broncos. Fresno State is nipping at their heels, but Boise State’s depth and comforting schedule bodes well for another 10-plus win season. Utah State isn’t as strong as last season and I see them taking a steep dive heading into this season. For the most part, the Broncos feast on their conference foes and that shouldn’t change in 2019-20. Fresno State should build upon a successful season and SDSU can really rebound off a horrid 2018. With that being said, Boise State has too much talent on both sides of the ball to not come away with another solid year and be in contention for another bowl appearance. This should happen even without Brett Rypien.
Alex Valle - I think Boise State is a given for at least 10 wins next season considering they usually finish around 10 wins. Boise finished top of the MWC the last two seasons and was second three years ago. The second team that will get 10 wins is Fresno State. They finished at the bottom of the conference in 2016, but since then have completely turned it around. Fresno finished with 10 wins two years ago and then 12 wins this last season. The last team that will either just get 10 wins or be short by only a game will be San Diego State. They have an easier schedule than last year and should be able to capitalize against their non conference opponents, which they weren’t able to do this past season.