The 2021 season was an eventful one for the Mountain West. An unexpected champion emerged, and the league was as deep as it has ever been with eight teams appearing in bowl games. Let’s take a look at the top storylines from this past season.
Utah State Wins the Conference Championship
The Aggies looked awful during the COVID shortened season, but the hiring of Blake Anderson and a rejuvenated roster filled with transfers turned them into a champion. The Aggies will be in the conversation next year as well, as they bring back some of their most talented players and have a favorable schedule.
Elite Quarterback Play
Carson Strong and Jake Haener gave fans quite a treat this season as we got to see an elite display of quarterback play. Carson Strong was the offensive player of the year, but Jake Haener wasn’t far off and will be the favorite to win it next season now that he is returning to Fresno State. Carson Strong is off to the NFL after his junior season and is in the conversation to be the top pick. We might not see quarterback play like this for a while in the Mountain West.
The Aztecs Have a Great Season Despite Quarterback Play
An 11-1 season is special, and a victory over a team playing in the Rose Bowl is a major feather in the cap for a team that is on the rise. It is a shame that the season ended the way it did, but the Aztecs have a lot to look forward to with a solid recruiting class and a new stadium opening next fall.
San Jose State Takes a Major Step Back
The defending conference champions never stood a chance. An early injury to Nick Starkell and a major fall off in production at the skill positions left the Spartans as a team looking for an identity. Brent Brennan is the right guy to get this program back on track, but it is going to take a few years.
Boise State’s Offensive Woes Prevent a Special Season
The Bronco offensive line continued to struggle and injuries on the offensive side of the ball prevented the Broncos from making their fifth consecutive conference championship game. The offensive line continued to be awful in pass protection and couldn’t open up holes in this running game. This team will not be elite again until they solve their problems in the trenches.
Another Season Without a Big Bowl Game
The Mountain West continues to play second fiddle to the American for a spot in a New Years Six bowl game. Watching Cincinnati become the first Group of Five school to earn a playoff berth was pretty special. But it had to be bittersweet for the Mountain West, a conference that hasn’t been on the big stage for too long.
Which moments from this past season stood out to you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.