Back in August, we released our team votes for the order of the Mountain offenses and defenses heading into the 2022 season. Now that the season is over, the team voted again, and we compiled the votes and are posting the results in today’s post. Due to the way the content schedule is working out, both offense and defense will be featured in one post rather than separate ones.
The top three offensive rankings and the top defensive ranking were all unanimous votes. Interestingly enough, spots 1, 2, 3, 8, 9, and 12 on offense and 1 and 12 on defense all matched their preseason rankings.
Note: for team stats, they obviously do not include the impending bowl games for teams playing in a bowl game. Although bowl games do count toward season stats, they have yet to be played, so the numbers won’t be completely accurate.
All team stats are per the Mountain West official website.
1) Fresno State
2022 stats: 30.69 ppg, 125.2 rushing ypg, 269.8 passing ypg
The Bulldogs, like a few other teams on this list, fulfilled their potential and turned in a great offensive season. Though they hit some rough patches due to injuries, they were able to withstand it more often than not due to the balance and depth of their offensive weapons. Fresno State could lean on the running game just as much as their passing attack, keeping defenses off-balance. They were the best passing offense and arguably the most balanced offense.
2) Boise State
2022 stats: 29.08 ppg, 187 rushing ypg, 194.7 passing ypg
The Broncos were on track to be one of the worst offenses in the conference through the first month of the season. Then, a new offensive coordinator, a new quarterback, and a new shift in what to prioritize on offense changed everything. Suddenly, Boise State featured a diverse and prolific running attack, with three different players capable of breaking 100 yards. As time went on, the passing attack developed, and numerous weapons emerged at wide receiver. They have a still-developing but balanced and dynamic offense.
3) Air Force
2022 stats: 27.67 ppg, 330.90 rushing ypg, 67.80 passing ypg
Once again, the high-octane running game led the nation in rushing yards. Which isn’t surprising after the record-breaking season by Brad Roberts. However, it was a total team effort, as there were rushing threats at other positions and excellent blocking behind one of the best offensive line units in the entire country.
2022 stats: 26.33 ppg, 137.4 rushing ypg, 215 passing ypg
The Rebels burst onto the scene this year with an explosive offense. They scored many of their points on the ground, both by the running back and quarterback, but completed many big plays through the air as well. There were weapons everywhere, but facing stiffer competition, everyone getting hurt, and the scoring disappeared in a hurry. All in all, UNLV had a good offense; it just wasn’t complete for most of the season.
5) San Jose State
2022 stats: 27.45 ppg, 92.5 rushing ypg, 264 passing ypg
The Spartans entered the year with the potential to have a great offense. It took a few weeks for all the new pieces to click, and even then, they could be hot and cold, depending on the week. However, when they were hot, it was fun to watch and difficult to stop. The dual-threat quarterback and big, play-making wide receivers and steady running game were capable of putting up a lot of points when things were going right.
6) Utah State
2022 stats: 23.25 ppg, 162.1 rushing ypg, 200.2 passing ypg
The Aggies could not recapture the dynamic offense of 2021, and at the start of this season, their offense couldn’t do much of anything at all. But when they had to turn to their backup quarterback, they found the middle ground. Utah State found its stride in the second half of the season, and the boost from their offense was a big reason why. While they didn’t have any true star players, they had numerous very good players, and that made them unpredictable and effective.
7) San Diego State
2022 stats: 21.33 ppg, 150.8 rushing ypg, 170.9 passing ypg
The Aztec offense was scuffling, and once again, they had issues in the passing game. A change at offensive coordinator, plus taking their safety, who converted from quarterback and converted him back to quarterback were changed that breathed new life into the offense. Suddenly, San Diego State was capable of big plays and made defenses start guessing what they were going to do. It wasn’t a complete revelation, but it did help them improve enough to be a more competitive team.
2022 stats: 19.77 ppg, 137.2 rushing ypg, 205.5 passing ypg
After a horrendous start to the season, the Rainbow Warriors were decent on offense. They managed to feature capable players at both quarterback and running back, allowing them to feature some dynamic plays on offense and begin to establish an identity. There is still a long way to go, and Hawaii should not be confused with a top offense, but there were some signs of life there.
2022 stats: 20.75 ppg, 187.8 rushing ypg, 127.8 passing ypg
The Cowboys were a surprising team in 2022, and not only because they won a higher number of games than expected. They also found a complimentary passing game for the first time in years. It made their offense flow more and enhanced their effective running game. While Wyoming didn’t measure up with the best offenses in the conference, it didn’t hold them back as much as in past seasons.
10) Colorado State
2022 stats: 13.17 ppg, 89 rushing ypg, 196.8 passing ypg
Perhaps the most surprising result was the Ram’s offense being pretty bad. They did not score more than 20 points all season, and surprisingly, a lot of their productivity came from the running game. Things started to click during their last few games in the passing department, and Colorado State is a good bet on rising up this list next season. But for 2022, they were quite a disappointment.
2022 stats: 18.83 ppg, 119.1 rushing ypg, 185.6 passing ypg
The Wolf Pack lost nearly all of its key offensive players from last season in one way or another, so it was no surprise when they struggled. They featured a talented running back duo, but without the passing attack to accompany it, teams could stack the box and shut down the run. The receiving game started to find its stride a bit, but it was too late. Nevada was not great at scoring points, and it shows here.
12) New Mexico
2022 stats: 13.08 ppg, 124.4 rushing ypg, 104.6 passing ypg
At times, it was fair to wonder if the Lobos had an offense. They had an interesting scheme, but it yielded few results. This was likely due to a combination of mismatched personnel and struggled with coaching. Now New Mexico will have to address both of those areas to avoid being in this spot again next season.
All team stats are per the Mountain West official website. All turnover stats are from Sports Reference.
1) Air Force
2022 stats: 13.25 ppg, 99.8 rushing ypg, 156.7 passing ypg, 22 sacks, 9 INTs, 5 FFs
The Falcons were absolutely dominant as a defensive unit this year. Not only were they the best in the conference, but they were one of the best units in the entire country. They weren’t necessarily flashy, but they were extremely efficient and effective. That philosophy proved to be more than enough to claim the top spot in the conference.
2) Boise State
2022 stats: 18.54 ppg, 120.8 rushing ypg, 160.7 passing ypg, 27 sacks, 13 INTs, 6 FFs
At different points in this season, the Bronco defense was among the top units in the nation in different categories. There was some inevitable regression, and they lost a bit when the injuries began to pile up over the last few games of the season. It was a very balanced and talented defense, and they were able to adapt to a wide variety of different offenses they saw this season.
3) San Diego State
2022 stats: 20.17 ppg, 128.8 rushing ypg, 206.6 passing ypg, 29 sacks, 12 INTs, 5 FFs
The Aztecs have had solid defenses for a number of years, and this season was no different. While they weren’t truly dominant, they were extremely good and kept the team in a number of games this season. Unfortunately, without game-changing special teams or many positive developments from the offense, a lot of pressure was put on the defense. They had some of the best defensive players in the conference, and that is reflected in their place here.
4) San Jose State
2022 stats: 20.27 ppg, 122.6 rushing ypg, 210.4 passing ypg, 35 sacks, 13 INTs, 5 FFs
The Spartans had a sensational front seven, as can be seen by some of their statistics mentioned above. In particular, they were at their best when stopping the run or rushing the passer. San Jose State accumulated the most sacks in the conference for a reason, as they had some of the best pass-rushers in the Mountain West this year.
2022 stats: 23.42 ppg, 149.7 rushing ypg, 219.8 passing ypg, 34 sacks, 6 INTs, 8 FFs
The Cowboys have traditionally had great defenses. While they took a step forward on offense this year, they also took a bit of a step back on defense. While they were still very good, they weren’t at the same level as some of the other teams in the conference. However, it is also fair to remember Wyoming had a very young team, and that included the defense, which had to replace a number of starters from last season. This year gave the young players a wealth of experience, and it should bode well for them in the years to come.
6) Fresno State
2022 stats: 20.46 ppg, 158.6 rushing ypg, 193.3 passing ypg, 24 sacks, 11 INTs, 9 FFs
Like their offense, the Bulldogs had a very balanced defensive unit. There were star players in every level of the defense, including one player who was in contention for the conference’s defensive player of the year award. Fresno State being adept at stopping the pass as well as the run helped them to identify how to stop different offenses and made them more effective.
7) New Mexico
2022 stats: 26 ppg, 157.6 rushing ypg, 202.8 passing ypg, 25 sacks, 8 INTs, 13 FFs
The Lobos were a very good defensive team last season but ended up more middle of the road this year, which made them middle of the conference as well. They had some good players leading the unit, ones who fit nicely with their scheme as well, but they lacked depth, and it showed. New Mexico didn’t have much going for them this season, but their above-average defense was a bright spot.
2022 stats: 28.5 ppg, 157.9 rushing ypg, 225.8 passing ypg, 27 sacks, 15 INTs, 8 FFs
Like their offense, the Rebels made strides on the defensive side of the ball. Unfortunately, their strides on defense weren’t as large as their offensive ones. They weren’t a liability and had success with getting to the quarterback as well as picking him off. UNLV’s defense was an opportunistic unit, and it aided them this season, especially at the start of the season. Again, progress was shown.
9) Colorado State
2022 stats: 26.92 ppg, 163.6 rushing ypg, 191.4 passing ypg, 24 sacks, 8 INTs, 11 FFs
While the Rams did not possess a great defense, it was leaps and bounds ahead of their offense. They found some good young players throughout the defense, and they were completed by talented veterans, especially at linebacker. Having double-digit fumbles is no easy feat, and the sack and interception stats look good too. It was perhaps Jay Norvell’s best defensive campaign, which bodes well for Colorado State.
10) Utah State
2022 stats: 30.58 ppg, 198.2 rushing ypg, 198.4 passing ypg, 23 sacks, 10 INTs, 7 FFs
The Aggies had an opportunistic defense last season, but that didn’t go as well for them this time around. With the offense struggling at the start of the season, the defense was on the field for long periods of time, and they got tired. Despite their struggles, they did
2022 stats: 30.92 ppg, 164.5 rushing ypg, 231.6 passing ypg, 26 sacks, 11 INTs, 9 FFs
The Wolf Pack struggled in all facets of the game, and their showing on defense was no exception. They struggled in both defending the path and the run, and although they had some bright moments, they were few and far between during the season. Nevada didn’t demonstrate much improvement as the year went on either, as they surrendered back-to-back 40+ games to end the year.
2022 stats: 34.69 ppg, 213.3 rushing ypg, 224.8 passing ypg, 18 sacks, 10 INTs, 4 FFs
The Rainbow Warriors were competitive on offense much of the time, but as far as the defense went, they were pretty awful. It was safe the say the talent was severely lacking on that side of the ball, and it showed in most of the games they played. Hawaii was absolutely awful in defending the run and equally bad in stopping the pass. Significant changes will have to be made to avoid being in this spot again next year.
Your turn: How would you rank the offenses and defenses in the Mountain West? What changes would you make? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.