As we inch closer to the start of the season, we are getting a better idea of what rosters look like. We have some teams with established rosters, while others will have a number of position battles throughout fall camp. As per tradition, I will spend the next few weeks making my final predictions for the upcoming season. I will look through schedules and determine my final predictions for each team. This week, let’s take a look at the good, bad, and ugly predictions for the West Division.
The Good (Bowl Eligible)
The Bulldogs are loaded at the skill positions and should have the best offense in the Mountain West with the return of key contributors like Jake Haener, Jalen Cropper, and Jordan Mims. The questions for this team will be how they progress in the trenches. Last year, Haener took way too many hits, and the Bulldogs were inconsistent running the ball. The defense all struggled in the trenches. I think the veteran leadership that Jeff Tedford brings to the table should allow this team to take the next step.
Wins: Cal Poly, Oregon State, Connecticut, San Jose State, New Mexico, San Diego State, Hawaii, UNLV, Nevada, Wyoming
Losses: USC, Boise State
Final Record: (10-2, 7-1)
San Diego State
We know the Aztecs will be really good in the trenches, but we don’t know how they will fare on the offensive side of the ball. Have the Aztecs found their solution at quarterback? Or will inconsistency at the position continue to plague them? This should be an exciting race between the Bulldogs and Aztecs for top team in the West, but the Aztecs will need to be more consistent putting points on the board if they want to repeat as division champions.
Wins: Arizona, Idaho State, Toledo, Boise State, Hawaii, Nevada, UNLV, San Jose State, Air Force
Losses: Utah, Fresno State
Final Record: (10-2, 7-1)
San Jose State
The Spartans took a step back after their 2020 championship season, finishing just short of bowl eligibility with a 5-7 record. The additions of Chevan Cordeiro and Elijah Cooks will go a long way in repairing some of the offensive inefficiencies that the Spartans had in 2021. I think this team is going to be vastly improved this season and they could even play spoiler if given the chance.
Wins: Portland State, Western Michigan, Wyoming, UNLV, New Mexico State, Nevada, Colorado State, Hawaii
Losses: Auburn, Fresno State, San Diego State, Utah State
Final Record: (8-4, 5-3)
The Bad (Barely Misses a Bowl Game)
Expectations are higher than normal in Las Vegas this season. The final record may not show it, but the Rebels showed signs of life late last season. UNLV has a schedule that is somewhat manageable. But there are significant questions at the quarterback position, and the departure of Charles Williams will be tough to overcome. I think the Rebels fall short, but Marcus Arroyo does just enough to save his job.
Wins: Idaho State, North Texas, New Mexico, Hawaii, Nevada
Losses: Cal, Utah State, San Jose State, Air Force, Notre Dame, San Diego State, Fresno State
Final Record: (5-7, 3-5)
The Rainbow Warriors were decimated by the transfer portal this offseason. Uncertainty at head coach led to many of their best athletes searching for a new home. I think Timmy Chang was a good long term hire, but there are going to be some significant bumps in the road along the way. Be patient Hawaii fans; this year might be rough, but the Rainbow Warriors will show growth over the course of the season.
Wins: Vanderbilt, Western Kentucky, Duquesne, New Mexico State, Nevada
Losses: Michigan, San Diego State, Colorado State, Wyoming, Fresno State, Utah State, UNLV, San Jose State
Final Record: (5-8, 1-7)
The Ugly (Not Even Close)
Similar to Hawaii, this coaching staff inherited a really tough situation. Many of the key athletes of the Wolf Pack roster followed Norvell to Colorado State. Nevada is relying on additions from the transfer portal and some unporoven talent to win games this year. Wolf Pack fans should be focused on growth this year and not so much on wins and losses.
Wins: New Mexico State, Texas State, Incarnate World,
Losses: Iowa, Air Force, Colorado State, Hawaii, San Diego State, San Jose State, Boise State, Fresno State, UNLV
Final Record: (3-9, 0-8)
How do you see things going in the West Division? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.