In this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly,” I am going to focus on recapping the performances of each team in the West Division. While the Mountain Division is usually deeper, that definitely was not the case during the abbreviated 2020 season. Let’s take a look at how each team performed.
San Jose State
This season was arguably one of the biggest surprises I have seen in my time following college football. The Spartans have been a perennial doormat since joining the conference until this year. Brent Brennan hit the gold mine in the transfer portal with Nick Starkell, and the defense had the biggest turnaround I have ever seen from a previous season. With Tre Walker and Bailey Gaither gone, the Spartans will have some uncertainties on the offensive side of the ball for the 2021 season, but the defense will continue to be really.
The Wolf Pack were a trendy pick to win the division, and in the early portion of the season, they definitely lived up to those expectations. Unfortunately for Nevada, a terrible second half against San Jose State cost them a bid in the Conference Championship game. However, Nevada recently received some good news with Carson Strong returning. Strong is considered a legit NFL prospect at the quarterback position.
Fresno State was really bad in 2019, but they made huge strides this past season. Jake Haener grew to be one of the best quarterbacks in the conference, and their offense should be even better next year. They do have plenty of deficiencies on the defensive side of the ball, but grad transfer Tyson Maeva should be a nice boost. The Bulldogs will be a dark horse title contender.
I think you could make an argument for the Rainbow Warriors to land in the “Bad” category, but I am basing this off of my preseason expectations for this program. I thought Hawaii would be bad this year. They were actually really solid and did not take a huge step back. Hawaii brings back a fair amount of talent next year. If they can figure out how to stop the run, watch out!
San Diego State
Anytime you are the preseason favorite in your division and you fail to meet those expectations, you have to consider that a failure. The Aztecs continue to be a solid football program, but they haven’t played in the past four championship games. They continue to be plagued by poor play at the quarterback position, and it cost them games against both Nevada and San Jose State.
The Rebels were a mess this season. They were inconsistent on both sides of the ball and were not competitive in most of their games. However, there were some positives to take away from this season. They got their younger players some experience, and it won’t count against their eligibility. Also, they had some freshmen who really stood out. If Arroyo can keep his recruiting going, the Rebels could be a bowl contender in a couple of seasons.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” How would you rank the teams in the West Division? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.