We all love making predictions, and we all go into a new season with expectations for our beloved teams. Some years, our teams meet or exceed our expectations; in other years, our expectations are not met. Each year, I like to make “crystal ball” predictions of how I see things playing out for teams and players in the Mountain West. This week, we are going to revisit my “crystal ball” for the Mountain Division in 2019.
Boise State Reloads
Earlier in the year, I made it a point that Boise State would reload and be heavy favorites to win the Mountain Division. I specifically addressed the improved recruiting at quarterback and running back. George Holani and Hank Bachmeier exceeded expectations as true freshmen, and both of them should be even better in 2020. Boise State’s recent success on the recruiting trail really paid dividends in 2019.
Wyoming Battles for the Mountain
Heading into the season, I thought the Cowboys were Boise State’s biggest threat to dethrone them. While that wasn’t the case (it was Air Force), Wyoming proved to be a really good football team with an elite defense. Their offense continued to be their biggest flaw, and their inability to develop a consistent passing game kept them from reaching that next level. The Cowboys will have a real quarterback battle on their hands with Sean Chambers and Levi Williams; whoever wins the job will need to show that they can be more consistent with their arm.
Utah State Takes a Step Back
I got a lot of flack for this before the season. Is Jordan Love an elite talent? Yes. Did he have elite talent around him? No. You can’t replace an entire offensive line, hire an all new coaching staff, and lose the majority of your weapons and just expect things to be okay. Anderson hired Mike Sanford to run an offense he had no experience with, and their fans and some national media expected 2018 results. It was never going to happen. The Aggies also had a much tougher schedule in 2019.
The Bob Davie Era Comes to an End in New Mexico
This prediction wasn’t exactly bold; the writing was on the wall for a long time. Had it not been for financial issues in the New Mexico athletic department, Davie probably would have lost his job after the 2018 season. With that being said, I like the Gonzales hire for the Lobos. But, is it too little, too late?
Air Force Gets Back on Track
Before the season I predicted that Air Force would be an improved team and would play in a bowl in 2019. The Falcons did more than get on track; they were far and away the second best team in the Mountain West, and the Broncos may have been lucky that they played Air Force early in the season. The Falcons finished the season with 11 wins, including a victory over Washington State in the Cheez-It Bowl. Air Force will have to replace a ton of talent in 2020, but they have foundational pieces returning in Donald Hammond III and Kadin Remsberg.
The Colorado State Defense Costs Them a Bowl Bid (Again)
You can debate whether or not this topic should be in the “Ugly” category, but I was pleasantly surprised by the Rams play on the defensive side of the ball. I watched nearly every moment of every Colorado State game, and it always felt like they were close to being a good football team. They hung with Boise State for three quarters and nearly pulled off upsets over Air Force and Utah State. I understand why Mike Bobo was fired, but I’m not completely sure it was the right move. Bobo recruited really well and they played a lot of young guys this year. Addazio will likely take a different approach than Bobo, and it will take a few years to implement his system.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Be sure to check out next week’s article, as I will be revisiting my crystal ball predictions for the West Division.