Last week, we took a peek at expectations for teams in the Mountain Division. Now this week, we head West. Expectations for most teams in the West are high where San Jose State, San Diego State, Hawaii, Fresno State, and Nevada all have high hopes. Let’s take a look at each team and how realistic their expectations should be.
The Wolf Pack have a quarterback that is generating NFL buzz (Carson Strong) and some talented players at skill positions. They will need to be more consistent in their ground game. Nevada had an easy schedule last year, they will have to prove themselves early this year, but the potential is there. If they can pull out victories over Kansas State and Cal, expectations will be real. The Wolf Pack should finish 8-4 and compete for a spot in the Mountain West title game.
San Jose State
I like Brent Brennan, but I am a bit skeptical on San Jose State having long term success. They lost some talented players at skill positions but bring back quarterback Nick Starkell and the majority of their defense. They have a manageable OOC and didn’t draw some of the tougher teams in the West. 8-4 would be another solid season for the Spartans.
San Diego State
The Aztecs have a really interesting OOC. They should beat Towson and New Mexico State, and games against Utah and Arizona are both winnable if they have good quarterback play. The Aztecs do have two of the top three teams in the Mountain (Boise State and Air Force), but like most years, it will hinge on their ability to move the ball through the air. They will be great on defense and should be strong on the ground. The Aztecs will probably finish 7-5 or 8-4.
I just learned that Hawaii plays New Mexico State twice? Outside of that odd home and home, they have interesting games against Oregon State and UCLA. Hawaii will be a good team this year, but I can’t see them contending for a title. 7-6 and another Hawaii Bowl appearance seem doable.
Cal Poly and Connecticut should be easy wins; Oregon and UCLA are probably losses. The Bulldogs have a wicked conference schedule, but they have the offensive firepower to stay in games. Their biggest question is on both sides of the trenches. 6-6 seems like the most likely scenario for the Bulldogs.
The Rebels have questions all around the field. They don’t have an answer at quarterback, and their FCS game is against one of the better teams at that level in Eastern Washington. The Rebels need to show progress this season because a bowl game probably isn’t realistic. If they can pull out four wins that would be a success, but 2-10 seems more likely.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Next week we will dive deeper into our season preview series. Who do you think comes out on top of the West Division? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.