The 2022 regular season is behind us and we have a brief break before bowl season is in full effect. 2022 was an interesting season; the conference underperformed in the preseason, but some new stars emerged as the season progressed. It was ultimately the biggest star in the conference that came home with the biggest award when the season concluded. Let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly surprises of the 2022 Mountain West football season.
Haener Overcomes Significant Injury
The Bulldogs were dead in the water. Jake Haener suffered an injury that appeared season-ending and the Bulldogs were 1-4. Haener recovered quickly and the Bulldogs were able to reel off eight consecutive victories and come home with another Mountain West Championship.
Young Talent Shines For the Broncos
The Broncos may have fallen short of their goal of winning the Mountain West Championship, but it is clear that the talent pool is deep and young for Boise State. The Broncos have a talented corps of freshmen that received invaluable playing time. Taylen Green, Ashton Jeanty, Mason Randolph, and Eric McCallister should all be poised for a big 2023 season.
Cowboys Exceed Expectations
I expected Wyoming to take a significant step back this season. They lost a number of key players to the transfer portal and some of their best players graduated. Craig Bohl and his staff did a masterful job of pulling together one of the most competitive teams in the conference.
New Coaches Struggle
Nevada, Hawaii, and Colorado State all entered the 2022 season with new coaches. They finished the season with three of the four worst records in the conference. Jay Norvell and Colorado State were the biggest surprise. It seemed that they had a roster in place that could, at the very least, be competitive enough to qualify for a bowl game. Falloff was expected at Nevada and Hawaii; both schools lost a good chunk of their 2021 football teams to the transfer portal.
The Conference Struggles During Out-of-Conference Play
I’m not going to dive into how each team did during OOC play, but here is a little perspective...The top two teams in the conference (Fresno State and Boise State) went a combined 2-6 in OOC play with their only victories coming against FCS teams. The conference can’t afford to have their top teams underperform like that.
The Transfer Portal Hurts the Conference
We saw it at the end of the 2021 season and we are seeing it again right now. Top players from mid to lower-level teams are leaving to pursue different opportunities. For the second consecutive year, schools like Wyoming, New Mexico, and Nevada have been decimated by the transfer portal. Wyoming in particular has done an excellent job developing underrated talent before losing them to the portal.
What were some moments from the 2022 football season that surprised you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.