Last week, “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly” focused on predicting the Mountain Division; this week, we will be heading West. Will a new power arise, or will Fresno State be representing the West once again? Last year, the West had a bit of a resurgence with four bowl eligible teams. Will that be the case again? Let’s take a peek at what to expect from each team in the West Division.
Thanks to Jeff Tedford, the Bulldogs football program is back on the map. The team has plenty of questions to address, especially on the offensive side of the ball where Fresno State will need to replace Marcus McMaryion and KeeSean Johnson. However, I think Tedford has done a nice job recruiting and is one of the best coaches in the league. The Bulldogs will represent the West in the Mountain West Championship once again.
San Diego State
If I was an Aztec fan, I would be a little concerned about the state of the football program. San Diego State under Rocky Long, is known as a gritty, disciplined team. The second half of last season was like watching a completely different squad. However, Juwan Washington should be healthy this year and the Aztecs should be improved at the quarterback position. SDSU has a favorable schedule and should be able to give Fresno State a run for their money.
Hawaii was the sweetheart of the Mountain West last season. They started the year on fire and seemed poised to challenge Fresno State and San Diego State. However, things took a turn for the worse in the second half of the season. Teams started to figure out their offense, and their defense was awful. Can we blame Hawaii’s offensive struggles on a McDonald injury? Possibly. But I think there were some bigger issues and the Warriors are a candidate to take a step back in 2019. They also have a much tougher schedule to begin the year. However, if they can find a way to get past Oregon State and Arizona, watch out.
There are plenty of uncertainties in Reno. Things did not look good at the quarterback position when Ty Gangi was injured and McLane Mannix transferred out. The Wolf Pack will need to build on a solid defensive effort in 2018 and will rely heavily on Toa Taua to shoulder the load for the offense. With that being said, I expect Nevada to fall short of bowl eligibility.
San Jose State
No surprise here, the Spartans have been a mess for a few years now. I don’t see that changing much in 2019. With that being said, I do think they will be slightly improved and might be able to come away with three or four wins. If that is the case, the Spartans will be taking a step in the right direction. While three or four wins might be possible, I expect the Spartans to finish the season with double digit losses again.
This might be a bit of a bolder pick. I have seen some people pick UNLV to be an improved squad. I just don’t see this happening. Tony Sanchez has done nothing to make me think that he is capable of leading a program at this level. I expect the Rebels to fall short of bowl eligibility again and most Las Vegas fans will spend their time talking about the Raiders.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” What are your predictions for the 2019 season? Stay tuned, as I will be reviewing Mountain West media days next week.