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Peak Perspective: Examing Mountain West Future OOC Schedules

Looking at games for the rest of the decade, through 2029. Different teams have a different number of teams scheduled over the next eight years but it’s still worth looking at.

No grades will be attached to each non-conference schedule. Instead, thoughts will be offered and themes will attempt to be made in understanding what each team is trying to do with their non-conference games. It is important to remember not every team is trying to do the same thing. For instance, the priority for some teams is preserving traditional rivalries. Some teams are getting big pay-day games in order to fund their athletic budget for the year. Others attempt to schedule a big game or two in hopes of boosting their resume and make a New Year’s Six run.

Air Force

2022: Northern Iowa, Colorado, Navy, Army

2023: Robert Morris, New Mexico State, Navy, Army

2024: Baylor, Army, Navy

2025: New Mexico State, Army, Navy

2026: Duquesne, Navy, Army

2027: Baylor, Army, Navy

2028: UTSA, Navy, Army

2029: Arizona, Army, Navy

Bottom Line:

The Falcons only really have two openings, as Army and Navy are on the schedule every year. So their grade is a bit of a mixed bag. The academy rivalries are hard-fought fun contests (especially if you like triple-option offense) but the other games don’t inspire much confidence. The other games are a balance of P5 opponents and lower G5/FCS teams, but what really matters to the program are the rivalry games.

Boise State

2022: Oregon State, UT-Martin, UTEP, BYU

2023: Washington, UCF, North Dakota,

2024: Georgia Southern, Oregon State, Oregon, Houston

2025: USF, Oregon, Houston

2026: Oregon, East Carolina

2027: Rice, USF, Marshall

2028: Cincinnati, East Carolina, Georgia Southern

2029: Cincinnati, Washington, Rice

Bottom Line:

The Broncos have a slew of Power 5 opponents on their schedule, particularly PAC-12 opponents. They also scheduled some top Group of 5 teams that will eventually be Big12 teams, which will make the schedule look even better. They have some gimmie games too but don’t seem to go overboard on them right now. It’s clearly a schedule built to make NY6 runs, with a do-or-die approach. Time will tell if Boise State can capitalize on it one of these years.

Colorado State

2022: Michigan, Middle Tennessee, Washington State, Sacramento State

2023: Washington State, Colorado, Middle Tennessee, Dixie State

2024: Texas, Northern Colorado, Colorado, UTEP

2025: Washington, Texas Tech, Northern Colorado, Vanderbilt

2026: Indiana, Southern Utah, Texas Tech, Vanderbilt

2027: Arizona, Wisconsin

2028: Arizona

2029: Colorado

Bottom Line:

It looks like Colorado State has a payday game or two each year against Power 5 teams. There are some winnable games against mid to low PAC 12 teams they can hopefully capitalize on when the time comes. The Rams pay their fair share of FCS opponents too. It’s too bad the Colorado series won’t resume until 2029, because that is an important rivalry game for the Rams, even if it has been a bit one-sided in recent years. Overall, there are some games on the schedule that give CSU a chance to make a statement and it will be a good measuring stick for Fort Air Raid.

Fresno State

2022: Cal Poly, Oregon State, USC, UConn

2023: Purdue, Eastern Washington, Arizona State

2024: Michigan, Sacramento State, UCLA, New Mexico State

2025: Kansas, Georgia Southern, Oregon State, Southern

2026: USC, Sacramento State, Washington State

2027: Dixie State, Washington, Washington State

2028: USC, Georgia Southern

2029: Texas Tech

Bottom Line:

There is a lot to like about the future schedules for the Bulldogs. They certainly prioritize schools in California, with seven in-state games over the next eight years. Fresno State mixes in numerous Power 5 teams, and winnable games at that. They also supplement their schedules with lower-level Group of 5 teams or FCS teams to provide balance, but they don’t overdo it. Also, FSU has done a nice job of filling up their schedule, with each year having at least three of four games until 2028. They clearly have a plan and are executing it well.

Hawaii

2022: Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Michigan, Duquesne, New Mexico State

2023: Vanderbilt, Stanford, Albany, Oregon, New Mexico State

2024: Oregon, UCLA, BYU, Nothern Iowa, New Mexico State

2025: Stanford, Arizona, BYU, Portland State

2026: Stanford, Arizona State, New Mexico State

2027: UCLA, New Mexico State

2028: Fordham, UCLA, New Mexico State

2029: Arizona

Bottom Line:

Hawaii can schedule up to five non-conference games so it’s hard to know if their schedules are complete or not in 2023 and 2024. It’s a wide range of games, going from big-name schools like Michigan and Oregon to FCS teams like Duquesne and Fordham. Ideally, they would replace those FCS games with lower-level Group of 5, but in some ways, maybe it doesn’t matter. They do a really nice job getting home-and-home series with teams like Vanderbilt and Stanford, likely drawing on the appeal of playing a game in Hawaii. On the other hand, their ongoing series with New Mexico State is a bit puzzling and the Rainbow Warriors could do without them. But for a team with noted geographical concerns, it’s not a bad schedule.

Nevada

2022: New Mexico State, Texas State, Incarnate Word, Iowa

2023: USC, Idaho, Texas State

2024: BYU, Minnesota, Eastern Washington

2025: Penn State

2026: UCLA

2027: Washington

2028: N/A

2029: N/A

Bottom Line:

The Wolf Pack have some work to do on the back half of this schedule in terms of just filling teams. 2022 is especially barren in terms of quality opponents and that is the only complete season on the schedule. With openings over the next two seasons, it’s likely those will become more FCS gimmie games with such late notice. Nevada does have a Power 5 pay-day game each season, which is helpful. However, it does seem they have little identity or a plan about what they want to do. Perhaps that is for the best as the new coaching regime can build the schedule more of how they want to. It will be interesting to see what they do.

New Mexico

2022: Maine, UTEP, LSU, New Mexico State

2023: Texas A&M, Tennessee Tech, UMass, New Mexico State

2024: Montana State, Arizona, Auburn, New Mexico State

2025: Michigan, Idaho State, UCLA, New Mexico State

2026: Oklahoma, New Mexico State

2027: Oregon State, Texas A&M, New Mexico State

2028: Oregon State, New Mexico State

2029: New Mexico State

Bottom Line:

The Lobos have no issue with pay-day games, with ten games against Power 5 teams and at least eight of them appear like they have little to no chance at all to win. On the other end of the spectrum, they schedule some obscure teams, like Maine, UMass, or Montana State in hopes of getting a few easier wins each year. Expect more of those in the latter half of the decade. Each year is the ongoing series with New Mexico State, and out of any team in the conference, New Mexico is the only team that makes sense to play the Aggies. As an in-state rival, it makes sense to keep the series going and is in many ways a fairly even rivalry game. For a bottom of the conference team, the Lobos schedule makes sense.

San Diego State

2022: Arizona, Idaho State, Utah, Toledo

2023: Idaho State, New Mexico State, UCLA, Oregon State

2024: Washington State, Cal, Portland State, Central Michigan

2025: Stony Brook, Washington State, Cal

2026: Portland State, UCLA, Oregon State, Toledo

2027: Eastern Michigan, Missouri, Arizona State

2028: Missouri, Arizona State, Louisiana Tech

2029: Louisiana Tech

Bottom Line:

San Diego State has used this type of formula for their out of conference schedules for years and it’s worked out in their favor extremely well. They have done a tremendous job scheduling home and home series with two PAC-12 teams most years and then they fill out the rest of their schedule with teams from the Group of 5 or sometimes FCS teams. It’s a very balanced schedule and the Aztecs have competed very well against the PAC-12 in recent years, with a 6-2 record since 2016.

San Jose State

2022: Portland State, Auburn, Western Michigan, New Mexico State

2023: Cal Poly, Oregon State, Ohio State, Toledo

2024: Sacramento State, USC, Louisiana Monroe, Akron

2025: Central Michigan, Texas, Idaho, USF

2026: Eastern Michigan, Penn State, UTEP

2027: Minnesota, Akron, Portland State, UTEP

2028: Howard, Toledo, Washington

2029: Holy Cross, Eastern Michigan, Oregon State

Bottom Line:

The Spartans appear to have a plan as well, and although it is different from San Diego State, it’s still a pretty good one for where they are at. A Power 5 payday game appears to be at the core of their schedule, with traditional blue bloods like Auburn, Ohio State, USC, and Texas all on future schedules. There are some games that could be more winnable, like Minnesota or Oregon State down the line. Then SJSU fills in the gaps with FCS and lower-level teams, the Portland State, Caly Poly, and directional Michigans of the world. San Jose State is not yet in a position to take bigger risks in their OCC schedule, so this model is perfect for them.

UNLV

2022: Idaho State, Cal, North Texas, Notre Dame

2023: Michigan, Vanderbilt, UTEP

2024: Houston, Army

2025: Cal, UCLA

2026: Cal, North Texas

2027: Arizona State, USTA

2028: Houston, Army

2029: N/A

Bottom Line:

The Rebels are another team who have a noticeable number of openings on their schedule, starting as soon as next year and no more than two teams beginning in 2024. As for the teams on the schedule, the formula seems to be two Power 5 teams and then either a Group of 5 or FCS team. Three games scheduled against Cal is nice and winning one of them would be huge for UNLV. They will also need to make statements against the 50/50 games, UTEP/Army/USTA if they want to show they are a competitive team like they aspire to be. It is a schedule with enough games designed to help the Rebels be competitive and hopefully, they can achieve that.

Utah State

2022: UConn, Alabama, Weber State, BYU

2023: Iowa, Idaho State, UConn, BYU

2024: Mississippi State, BYU,

2025: Texas A&M, BYU

2026: BYU

2027: Oregon

2028: Oregon

2029: Oregon

Bottom Line:

The Aggies have taken some big swings on their schedule and no one can say they aren’t afraid to pay top teams. Alabama this year, five straight games against in-state BYU, and three games against Oregon at the end of the decade demonstrate the need for pay-day games but also their desire to play some of the best teams in the country. The next two years show their potential blueprint for some games against top teams balanced out by games against the bottom of the Group of 5 or FCS teams (UConn, Weber State). The biggest critique of Utah State’s future schedule is that there are big holes to fill starting in 2024. They have some work to do to fill up the schedule.

Wyoming

2022: Illinois, Tulsa, Northern Colorado, BYU

2023: Texas Tech, Portland State, Texas, Appalachian State

2024: Arizona State, Idaho, New Mexico State, BYU

2025: Akron, Cal Poly, Utah, Colorado

2026: UConn, North Texas, Nothern Colorado, Central Michigan

2027: Utah, Southern Utah, North Texas, Central Michigan

2028: Idaho State, Akron, Texas Tech, UTEP

2029: Cal, UConn, UTEP

Bottom Line:

Wyoming’s out-of-conference schedule certainly points towards a pre-season or warm-up to get ready for conference play more often than not. To be clear, there is nothing wrong with that for a mid-major. They mix in a pay-day game every year or two, but if the goal is to win the conference, then the first month of games aren’t necessarily a priority. However, the question for the Cowboys is: does their OOC slate actually prepare them for the Mountain West slew of games? Last year the team started 4-0 and expectations were riding high. That turned out to be fool’s gold as the team, especially the offense, wilted going up against better competition.