We are back at it. Football games will be played this Saturday for Week 0, so it’s time to rank the teams to enter the year. Take a look at this week’s MWCConnection Power Rankings, and let us know what you like and what you don’t. Feel free to drop your own rankings in the comments section.
Because there have not been any games yet, the rankings are admittedly pretty subjective. Due to that, there are a few different ways this post can go. Below are some options:
1. The team you love
2-11. Every other team
12. The team you hate
The “fair” rankings.
The “how last season ended” rankings
1) Utah State
2) San Diego State
3) Fresno State
4) Air Force
5) Boise State
9) San Jose State
10) Colorado State
12) New Mexico
1) Fresno State
The Bulldogs enter the season as the top team in the Mountain West and one with an outside shot at a NY6 bowl. They should have a dynamic offense with the conference’s top quarterback and wide receiver. Their defense should be up to the task as well.
2) Air Force
Expectations are flying high for the Falcons. They return tons of talent on both sides of the ball. Some key players will need to recover from injuries on offense, but there is no reason to think they won’t be right in the thick of winning the Mountain West by season’s end. At least as this point.
3) San Diego State
The Aztecs lost many core players from last year, but they are able to reload with the best of them. Expect them to be very good as usual, but heading into the year, they don’t look as strong as the teams in front of them.
4) Boise State
The last of the contenders, at least on paper, the Broncos should be good. However, unless they can solve the issues that plagued them last season (a lack of explosive plays, not being able to run the ball, some tackling issues), this is their ceiling. If they improved in these areas, they could compete for another conference title.
5) Utah State
It is a bit unusual for last year’s champion to be this low on the list. However, the Aggies lost a lot of talent, and they are due for some regression regardless. The defending champs will likely take a step back, but they should still be a bowl team in 2022.
6) San Jose State
The Spartans are a popular dark-horse pick to win the West after bringing in some key transfers during the off-season. They are a pretty good bet to shoot up these rankings if things come together quickly. But for now, they start the year at the bottom of the top of the conference.
The Cowboys should be a pretty good bet to make a bowl once again. They saw a mass exodus of players to the transfer portal over the winter, and it could put a dent in their normally stout defense. Their running game should be just as good as usual, thanks to returnees at that position as well as the offensive line.
8) Colorado State
The Rams received a major boost in both coaching and personnel, thanks to Coach Norvell and Nevada. They should compete for a bowl, either making one or coming close. Conventional wisdom says they are still a year away, but in the transfer age, anything is possible as teams can rebuild on the fly. If nothing else, they should be fun to watch.
This is the year the Rebels should show some major improvements. Although they enter the year lower in the rankings, they could easily climb up a few spots. On the other hand, if this year’s team resembles previous versions, they could drop down a few spots as well. Time will tell.
The Wolf Pack lost the majority of their team’s core this past off-season. With a new coach, they are now set on forging a new identity. The early part of their schedule is favorable, so they should secure some wins to start the season. But things could just as easily go downhill in a hurry.
The Rainbow Warriors have over 50 players who are new to the team this season. How they will perform together is anyone’s guess, but they are expected to struggle in the first year of a massive rebuild. So here they are in the rankings.
12) New Mexico
Times were tough for the Lobos last season, and they don’t look great heading into this year. Hopefully, they have made improvements, but on paper, some of their best players transferred out. Things could be bleak again for New Mexico.