Just as the Falcons finish their final session of spring ball, the Mountain West finally revealed the full 2021 schedule, which is highlighted by a trip to Annapolis to take on Navy on the anniversary of 9/11, a trip to Dallas’ Globe Field to take on Army, and the semiannual change in cross divisional foes to San Diego State, Nevada, and UNLV. Here’s the new slate:
Sept. 4 Lafayette
Sept. 11 at Navy
Sept. 18 Utah State
Sept. 25 Florida Atlantic
Oct. 2 at New Mexico
Oct. 9 Wyoming
Oct. 16 at Boise State
Oct. 23 San Diego State
Oct. 30 OPEN
Nov. 6 vs. Army
Nov. 13 at Colorado State
Nov. 20 at Nevada
Nov. 27 UNLV
Dec. 4 MW Championship Game
I don’t want to imply that the early season is easy, but I will say that the harder part of the season is the second half, and that is good from the standpoint of getting some kinks worked out that will allow the Falcons to compete better against the tougher teams. As usual, the Falcons start out with a game against an FCS team, the Lafayette Leopards, which should be a layup. That’s followed by the trip to Annapolis, which has been a hard place for the Falcons to come out victorious, but Navy still has some issues to resolve after a subpar 2020 season.
Three out of the next four games are at home, where the Falcons thrive, with the only road trip being to New Mexico, who the Falcons have handled easily the last two years.
That brings us to the tough stretch against Boise in Idaho, San Diego State at home, and Army in Dallas, Colorado State in Fort Collins, and Nevada in Reno. The bye week before Army is a good point in the schedule to get a week off to heal and work on issues, but the game in Dallas means that the Falcons get no home games in the battle for the Commander-in-Chief’s trophy.
Lafayette - The Leopards are a team with a long history. They began play way back in 1882. They compete in the FCS Patriot League along with their fierce rival Lehigh University, a rivalry game that has been played 155 times. The Leopards have struggled to find success in recent years and have not had a winning season since 2009. FCS teams always struggle to contain the Falcon’s triple option, and I don’t expect this game to be an exception.
Navy - Navy suffered through an uncharacteristically poor year in 2020. The Midshipmen usually depend on outstanding play from the quarterback position, and none of the candidates performed very well last year. They’ll still be looking for an answer this year and have some other key positions to fill as well. However the game will be played in Annapolis, and the Falcons have been outplayed and outcoached in Annapolis in recent years.
Utah State - With all the transfer portal players coming in for the Aggies, it’s hard to get a handle on how the team will respond, but it is a good amount of talent coming in, especially LB Justin Rice and QB Logan Bonner. Still, with all the turnover, new coaching staff, and a new system to be learned, there may be some early season problems and the Falcons have manhandled the Aggies the last couple years.
Florida Atlantic - The Owls will be coming to Colorado Springs led by their latest ex-Power 5 coach, Willie Taggert. The Falcons visited Florida in 2018 when Florida Atlantic was coached by Lane Kiffin, who has moved back to a Power 5 team, Mississippi. In that game, the Falcons gave up 471 yards through the air and lost 33-27. The Owls are coming of a 5-4 record in 2020.
New Mexico - The Falcons shutout the Lobos last year 28-0, but the Lobos showed good improvement under Danny Gonzales and ended their season beating Wyoming and Fresno State. I expect a tighter battle in Albuquerque this year.
Wyoming - The Cowboys usually do a good job slowing down the Falcon offense and I don’t expect the offense to be quite as efficient as it has been the last two years, but at least the game will be played in Falcon Stadium and the defense should take a good step forward with more experience and returning turnbacks.
Boise State - Boise fans are fired up about their new coaching staff, hoping it can take the team back to regular New Years Day bowl games. With the game being played on the smurf turf, and the Broncos returning three all-MW 5th year seniors in Jake Stetz, Riley Whimpey, and Kekaula Kaniho, along with CT Thomas, Hank Bachmeier, and Jack Sears (who dismantled the Falcon defense last year), it will be a tall order to come out with a win.
San Diego State - I’m looking forward to having the Aztecs back on the schedule, especially since Rocky Long, who always had his Aztecs well prepared for the option attack, has moved on to New Mexico. The Aztecs are hoping they have found a quarterback who can ignite their offense in former 4 star recruit Jalen Mayden.
Army - I won’t talk about last year’s game, it brings up too much disappointment, but I am excited to see these two teams matchup on a big stage in Dallas with a national TV audience.
Colorado State - In the second year of coach Steve Addazio’s realm, the Rams are all in on QB Todd Centeio. The Rams always have good talent, but can’t get over the hump. The Falcon offense has owned the Rams the last four meetings, so the result more likely depends on the Ram defense stepping up.
Nevada - The Wolfpack are coming off an excellent year led by a possible NFL level quarterback in Carson Strong, who has an exceptional talent to throw to in Romeo Doubs. This is a very tough matchup for a Falcon defense that normally struggles to contain the pass.
UNLV - The Rebels probably still have a way to go to gain relevance as a Mountain West contender, but the Falcons will have to maintain focus in the final regular season game at home.
Thanks for reading. Let me know in the comments where you think I may be wrong.