As we enter the summer and get ready for the arrival of freshmen and the start of fall camp, it is time that I take a hard look in the mirror and revisit some predictions that I made before the start of the 2021 football season. Last week, we looked at the Mountain Division; this week, we are going to revisit my predictions for the West Division. Let’s look back at my good, bad, and ugly predictions for the West Division in 2021.
UNLV (Final Record 2-10, Prediction 1-11)
The writing was on the wall that it was going to be a rough season for the Rebels. They had done a nice job recruiting, but the young talent was not ready to make them a competitive program. The Rebels showed potential late in the season, but some of their best players entered the transfer portal.
Hawaii (Final Record 6-7, Prediction 6-7)
Hawaii was a program in flux. They made a coaching hire that was a bad fit for a program that relies on culture and tradition. Injuries to critical players and a lack of talent in the trenches kept this team from being a realistic contender.
Nevada (Final Record 8-5, Prediction 9-3)
On the surface, you look at the 8-5 record and consider it a successful season. But that just wasn’t the case. The Wolf Pack fielded its most talented team since Colin Kaepernick was at quarterback and finished on the outside looking in for the championship race. Nevada was a trendy pick for conference champion but fell short despite having one of the most talented rosters in the league.
Fresno State (Final Record 10-3, Prediction 7-5)
I knew the Bulldogs would trend in the right direction, but this team recovered much faster than I thought they would after struggling the previous two seasons. Jake Haener led one of the most entertaining offenses in the nation and even had the Bulldogs in the top 25 before suffering a disappointing loss to Boise State. Fresno State has plenty of talent returning this fall and should be a favorite to contend for the conference championship.
San Jose State (Final Record 5-7, Prediction 9-3)
The Spartans showed how hard it is to stay at the top of the mountain. After walking away with their first conference championship since joining the Mountain West, the Spartans just weren’t the same team. They had a hard time sustaining the physical play that propelled them to a special season in 2020, and an early injury to Nick Starkell left them shorthanded at quarterback.
San Diego State (Final Record 12-2, Prediction 7-5)
Brady Hoke did a masterful coaching job in 2021. San Diego State was loaded with NFL caliber talent on the defensive side of the ball and used a solid rushing attack to come away with their first division title since 2016. The Aztecs lose quite a bit of talent, but should still be in the thick of the title race this fall.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” How did your predictions play out for the 2021 season? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.