Back at it. Things are finally starting to take shape a bit, as the rankings indict below. Take a look at this week’s MWCConnection Power Rankings, and let us know what you like and what you don’t. Feel free to drop your own rankings in the comments section.
1A) Air Force
The Falcons are the only team who has actually played a game, so it only feels right to give them the top spot. And they looked very strong in their game. Maybe it was the quality of opponent but it was a convincing win regardless. They rarely needed options off their dive plays between the tackles and the defense more than passed the test despite 11 new starters. Watch out everyone else.
1B/2) Boise State
If you want to put them in the top spot, go for it. If you want to hold them back until they play a game, that works too. Either way, this is a team that has both a target on their back and the weight of big expectations every year, with this season being no different. They are defending champs and look to be reloading once again.
The usual questions remain for the Cowboys entering the season. They will have a good defense, but will it be great with key players opting out? They will have solid offensive line play and display a run-first offense. However, which quarterback will emerge as the starter (if one does)? And can the passing game be enough of a threat to balance the offense?
4) San Diego State
Ditto for SDSU. The usual questions remain for the Aztecs entering the season. They will have a good defense, due to the strength of their secondary, but will it be great with key players graduating? They will have solid offensive line play and display a run-first offense. However, what will they get out of the quarterback position? And can the passing game be enough of a threat to balance the offense, especially with a new coaching staff?
Nevada was the trendy off-season pick to win the West division after back-to-back bowl games. However, this spot seems like the ceiling for them unless their players have taken a big leap forward. They should make a bowl game, but won’t be confused with the top tier of the conference.
6) Colorado State
Week 1 will reveal if the Rams should trade places with the 7th ranked team on the list or not. It’s fair to see both are about even, although for different reasons. The Rams have a veteran offense even without their best player, should not lack for weapons this season. However, they will go as far as their defense takes them. Which is basically a .500 team until further notice.
7) Fresno State
The Bulldogs are a good bet to be a surprise team this season, but in order to do that they will have to reverse nearly everything from last year. They are hampered by the transfer of their best defensive player, but that side of the ball should be strong. The offense has a few weapons, but it can’t get going unless their play at QB improves. A few things have to go right for the Bulldogs to make a bowl, but they aren’t unrealistic, just not a sure thing.
8) Utah State
Some will argue the Aggies to be ranked higher and they may end up being right. However, it’s hard to imagine a team being better after losing their 1st-round draft pick quarterback, top rusher, top receiver, top tight end, one of of the top defensive players in the conference entering last season, plus their best cornerback and best pass rusher. Can they reload? Sure, but it is far from a given.
Unfortunately, the Rainbow Warriors are the best candidate for regression after their ten-win 2019 season. A coaching change, with no spring or summer practices to install new schemes and a big question mark as to how the schemes and personnel with match up. That’s before even getting to the players they lost on both sides of the ball. The wide receivers and offensive line remain big strengths and if they can utilize those effectively, they can put up points.
10) San Jose State
Similar to Hawaii above, the Spartans lost their quarterback who made their offense run smoothly. But on the other hand, they bring back most of their wide receivers and there’s a talented spread around the team at quite a few positions. There are enough question marks to sell on their productive 2019 season but SJSU should be at least half a step above the MWC cellar again this year.
The Rebels made a home-run hire for their new head coach and are recruiting talent with the best of them (literally, they are atop the conference in recruiting rankings at the time of this writing per 247). However, that talent is young and raw. How quickly they can develop it and get it on the field will correlate to where they appear in the rankings each week.
12) New Mexico
The Lobos have a huge program rebuild and while they are doing all the right things, year one is likely going to be tough. Look for little victories wherever you can.