With the season inching closer (hopefully), it is time that we start breaking down the contenders and pretenders. In this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” we will be previewing which Mountain Division teams have the best chances at success.
The Broncos are coming off their third consecutive division championship. They do have some questions that will need to be answered in the trenches, but the Broncos have the best skill position players in the conference, and I’m not sure it is even up for debate. Boise State has a favorable non-conference schedule with BYU and Florida State both coming to Boise. But the Broncos do have to travel to Laramie and Colorado Springs for their two toughest conference games. Even if the Broncos split those two games, they should be able to finish 7-1 in conference play and finish the year 10-2. I think a fourth division title is in the cards.
I know this will come as a surprise to some, but I think that Wyoming is the biggest threat to Boise State this year. Wyoming will have their best offense since Josh Allen left campus and should be able to impose their will in the run game. There are some questions on the defensive side of the ball, but Craig Bohl has proved that he can get the most our of his players. I think the Cowboys go 6-2 in league play and finish the regular season 9-3.
The Falcons have a manageable out-of-conference schedule where they could easily go 4-0. They host Boise State in a week two matchup that could decide the Mountain Division. Air Force loses a ton of talent on the defensive side of the ball, but they have the ability to have another really solid season. The Falcons will also finish 6-2 in league play and 9-3 overall.
The Rams are my candidate for most improved team this year. O’Brien could very well be the third best quarterback in the Mountain West and has a special receiving corps at his disposal. The biggest question for Colorado State will be their ability to run the ball and stop the run on the other side. I think Colorado State is going bowling even though they have a brutal schedule. The Rams will finish 4-4 in the conference and 6-6 overall. But I wouldn’t be shocked if they somehow managed seven or eight wins.
Sorry Aggies fans, but Jordan Love is not coming back through that door, and those first six weeks are brutal. It is hard to see any scenario where the Aggies are better than 2-4 (I think they go 1-5). The skill talent just isn’t there for a team that will need to compete with a very deep Mountain Division. The Aggies will need to be far ahead of schedule to go bowling. Utah State finishes Mountain West play 3-5 and 4-8 overall.
After breaking down the Lobos schedule, it is hard not to feel bad for that fan base. They did everything right in the offseason. They made a dynamite coaching hire and had a successful recruiting class. But this program needs time. The schedule is tough with out-of-conference games against Mississippi State and USC. The Lobos will manage one conference win and finish the season 3-10.
As you can see, the Mountain Division is loaded in 2020, and three teams could flirt with double digit wins. Keep an eye on this race, as it could come down to the final week. That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Stay tuned next week, as I will be making some bold predictions for the upcoming season.