It’s game week! Week zero is upon us, and multiple Mountain West teams are in action. Fresno State hosts UConn, Hawaii travels to UCLA, and San Jose State hosts Southern Utah. That means that this is the last preseason edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly” and we can start analyzing some real football games (thank goodness). This week I will give my championship and award predictions, along with a few other things that may impact the Mountain West football season.
Nevada Makes Its First Championship Appearance
San Jose State may be the reigning champion, but the Wolf Pack have emerged as the preseason favorite. They are led by an NFL caliber quarterback in Carson Strong. Strong has no shortage of weapons, and the Wolf Pack should also have one of the best special teams units in the league. Nevada’s success will ultimately come down to its defense and its ability to run the ball.
Boise State Regains the Throne
Last year, the Broncos just felt a little bit off; they were decimated by injuries and COVID. This season will ultimately come down to a new coaching staff and play at the quarterback position. The Broncos have the luxury of having two really talented quarterbacks that have the ability to lead them to a championship. It won’t be a New Years Six quality season, but the Broncos will regain the throne as Mountain West Champions.
A Running Back Wins Offensive Player of the Year
Carson Strong is the obvious and rightful favorite for offensive player of the year. But the Mountain West has a plethora of talented running backs that should have big seasons. Ronnie Rivers (Fresno State), Greg Bell (San Diego State), Xazavian Valladay (Wyoming), and George Holani (Boise State) are all capable of having MVP seasons. Also keep an eye on wide receivers Romeo Doubs (Nevada) and Khalil Shakir (Boise State); they are also capable of having a say in this race.
Parity Costs the Mountain West a New Years Six Big
The Mountain West has seven to eight teams that have a legitimate shot at representing their team in the conference championship game, but are there any elite teams? I don’t think so; the West Division is so loaded that it wouldn’t surprise me if the division champion had four loses. Also, the team that represents the Mountain Division will likely have at least two losses before the big game. While it’s great that the Mountain West has plenty of talented teams, they really need to have a team that represents the league in the New Years Six.
Conference Realignment Rumors Take Away From the Product on the Field
With the season starting this weekend, conference realignment has dominated the national discussion with Oklahoma and Texas headed to the SEC. This will likely have a ripple effect on the Group of Five, as some teams will be part of the rumor mill. Hopefully the talks cool down for the next couple of months.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” How do you guys see things playing out in the Mountain West this season? Who comes away with the crown? Does the Mountain West have a realistic New Years Six contender?