Back at it. With each week, the sample size will grow and the rankings will (hopefully) be more accurate. 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.
1) San Jose State
The Spartans are the undisputed best team in the conference this year after beating Boise State and winning the Mountain West championship. They stuck to their winning formula of a pass-heavy approach and a physical, aggressive defense. What a season for SJSU!
2) Boise State
The Broncos were solid this season but clearly a step below San Jose State. When healthy, their offense was a well-oiled machine, but their running game was stagnant after Holani got hurt. They could survive as a pass-heavy offense until they couldn’t in the championship game. Their stars carried them most of the way but when they got hurt, there was a pretty big drop-off. Still, it worked more often than it didn’t.
The Wolf Pack jumped out to a big lead against San Jose State but could not hold on for the win. Due to this, they lost their second game this season. Their offense is high-powered to be sure, but sometimes relies too much on the big play to succeed. Their defense isn’t consistent and neither side of the ball showed up in the second half this past week.
4) Air Force
When at full-strength, the Falcons have been one of the stronger teams in the Mountain West. Unfortunately, they were not at full-strength for about two-thirds of the season. Not many defenses were able to stop the triple option when their dominant OL and talented backfield were able to play. They kept winning, emerging over some middling teams who have been scuffling lately.
Back and forth, back and forth. The Rainbow Warriors will end their season at 4-4 but will go out with a win. They also foiled Nevada’s undefeated season. Their offense was still able to be productive after transitioning away from the run-and-shoot. Meanwhile, their defense made strides. Things could have gone much worse in the first year post-Rolovich, so the 5th spot looks pretty good.
6) Fresno State
The Bulldogs ran into some bad luck and then bad play to end their season. At one point they were 3-1 and looked like the best of the second-tier teams. Then, they lost two games to Covid and two more games to other teams. One was a hard-fought game against Nevada and another was an unexpectedly hard-fought game against New Mexico.
7) San Diego State
At one point, they were the consensus fourth-best team in the league. Then the wheels fell off a bit for the Aztecs. Their lack of passing game was exposed, although their run-game, defense, and even special teams are all strong. However until they can solve the QB situation, their ceiling is limited.
It was a disappointing year for the Cowboys, especially considering some in their corner thought they could compete for the conference title this season. A respectable OT loss to Nevada and an end of year loss to Boise State were understandable, but Colorado State and New Mexico must less so. They lost two games to Covid and at least one of those would have been a win.
9) New Mexico
The Lobos ended their trying season on a two-game win streak and there are many positives to take away from the first year under Danny Gonzales. For starters, the team fought hard every week and didn’t give up during the early-season losses. Speaking of starters, although lots of them started at QB due to injuries, there is some real talent there. They emerged as a strong running team with two capable tailbacks who both return next season. And their defensive scheme under Rocky Long utilizes their skill set and can overcome some gaps in talent.
10) Colorado State
Considering the odds were stacked against them going into the season, it wasn’t an awful campaign for the Rams. They won a few games, lost a few more, and displayed their normal talented offense with questionable defense. Overall, they weren’t a great team but they were a step above the rest of the teams listed below.
11) Utah State
The Aggies end their year without a final game, instead opting to opt-out and make a statement in support of their interim coach. The season was not kind to Utah State, with only one win to their name in addition to numerous blowout losses. No one in the program is likely disappointed the season is over and now the work begins to rebuild on the fly.
It was a rough season for everyone but it’s extremely rough to be the only program that didn’t have a win. Everyone knew it has to get worse before it got better but the Arroyo era presented more questions than answers in year one. They will need to settle on a quarterback for starters. Also, the sooner their recruiting talent can get on the field, the sooner they can emerge from the MWC cellar.