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MWCConnection Power Rankings: Week 1

Nevada is the new top team. Bulldogs and Aggies rise, plus more.

NCAA Football: Nevada at California Neville E. Guard-USA TODAY Sports

We are back at it. Every Mountain West team has now played at least one game this year, for better or for worse. It’s still a small sample size but rankings can now be based on actual games. Consideration to the quality of the opponent each team played went into the rankings, in addition to the win/loss results.

Take a look at this week’s MWCConnection Power Rankings, and let us know what you like and what you don’t. Feel free to drop your own rankings in the comments section.

Week 1 Rankings

1) Nevada

Quality win. The Wolf Pack needed this win in their quest for their magical undefeated season. They started off sluggish but woke up and found their offensive rhythm. While the defense still appears a bit shaky, the passing attack will overcome any flaws elsewhere, especially with Elijah Cooks back in the fold. There is no shortage of weapons for Carson Strong and he deployed them well this weekend.

2) San Jose State

Quality loss. The defending champs lost to a good but not great USC team. The Spartans looked good but not great, hanging with the Trojans for three quarters before things got out of hand. Their defense looks like it can play with anyone but the offense was missing some needed firepower. They still appear to be one of the top teams in the conference but they looked like they were missing something this week.

3) Fresno State

Quality loss. Now for two weeks, the Bulldogs looked like a force to be reckoned with this season. They took Oregon down to the wire and were close to pulling off an upset. The offense looks great and the defense is pretty strong as well. It is clear Fresno State has been able to hit the ground running and it appears they have passed the early tests in regards to both sides of the trenches. The rest of the conference has officially been put on notice.

4) Boise State

Quality loss (more or less). For about 40% of the game, the Broncos looked great. Unfortunately, they were worse than awful the other 60%. The offense posting negative yardage for a quarter and the defense not tackling for long stretches of time proved disastrous. Still, there nearly won the game and also only lost by five with their best players either out of on snap counts. They drop but not much due to the quality of their opponent.

5) Air Force

Expected win. The Falcon offense was doing its thing early, scoring early and often. They took a 28-7 lead into halftime behind their efficient rushing attack. In the second half, they either eased off the gas or got complacent as they allowed Lafayette to pull within two scores before pulling away again at the end. It’s probably not fair to read too much into a warm-up game, but it wasn’t a convincing win either.

6) Utah State

The Aggies went into Pullman with no fear and came away with an upset win. In between, there were some big defensive plays, although some inconsistency. Also, the offense struggled but point up points when it had to. While this should not be confused with a coming-out party for Utah State, it’s an important confidence-building win.

7) San Diego State

If you missed the Aztec’s season-opening victory against New Mexico State, don’t worry, it looked a lot like the 2020 version of the team. They struggled to pass the ball (2 for 11 in the first half) and because of that they struggled to score points (0 in the first half). But the run game (248 rushing yards, 3 TDs) and defense (3 interceptions forced) led to 21 third-quarter points and a win.

8) Hawaii

The Rainbows Warriors forgot their rough season-opener and bounced back against Portland State. Their offense was humming again, especially thanks to Calvin Turner Jr. Although they let their big lead slip in the second half, they were able to right the ship for at least one week.

9) Wyoming

Unimpressive win. The hyped new-look offense amounted to the same scoring as the old one in their opening season game. Against an FCS team. At home. Credit to them for figuring out a way to score in the 4th quarter and take the lead multiple times late, including the game-winning drive. However, they left a lot to be desired, and at least for this week, it looks like the conference contended hype was a bit overblown.

10) New Mexico

Expected win. The Lobos were one of a few MWC teams to play an opponent from the FCS and they came away with a victory. A ten-point win wasn’t impressive but it was a much better outcome than some of their conference mates. The combo of transfer QB Terry Wilson and freshman WR Keyonta Lanier looks legit

11) Colorado State

Bad loss. If the Rams showed one thing this weekend, it was they are not at the same level as a top FCS team. Outside of maybe special teams, they were outclassed in every other facet of the game. The offense still has some weapons but not enough to move the ball consistently. Year two of the transition to the new scheme makes it look like it could be a trying year for Colorado State.

12) UNLV

Bad loss. The 2021 Rebels looked a lot like the 2020 version. They struggled to make a statement on defense. More importantly, they still didn’t find consistency at quarterback, already making a change halfway through the game. This was UNLV’s best chance for a victory. Not saying they won’t get a win this year, but the road is more difficult.