We have reached the end of the roundtable, which means we have reached the end of the offseason. The Mountain West is in action tomorrow for Week 0. This week’s question is short and to the point: which team will win the Mountain West Conference this season?
Mike: I think there are four teams who could make a case to win the championship this season. Those four are Boise State, San Diego State, Air Force, and Fresno State. However, going into the year, the latter two seem to have fewer questions and a leg up in execution compared to the former two. So I’m going with the Falcons against the Bulldogs this year, with a slight edge to the Bulldogs. I think Fresno State can beat teams in more ways and may be a bit more well-rounded. Plus, they have fewer injury concerns (for now). Put me down for the Bulldogs.
Adam: The popular picks will be Boise State and Fresno State, and rightfully so given the Bulldogs offense and the Broncos defense. However, I believe that this will be the year that Air Force gets it done to win it all. Hazziq Daniels is ready to lead the offense yet again in 2022. Brad Roberts will be toting the rock out of the backfield as well. The defense returns only five starters, but they are disciplined enough to contend with every team on their schedule. It would not at all surprise me if we head into the October 22nd contest against Boise State with an undefeated Air Force squad with a chance to make things really interesting for the New Year’s Six.
Matt: The smart money seems to be between Air Force and Fresno State. Both return a ton of experience, conducive schedules, and the fewest number of true question marks. October will be the make or break for both teams, as they both play Boise in the span of a few weeks. If both teams make it out of those games unscathed, the table should be set for a showdown in the conference title game. I think that Fresno’s offense is too much to contain, and they bring in their 4th conference title in Tedford’s return season. But, I would not be sad at all to see Air Force win their first conference title in Mountain West history.
Zach: I’m not sure I can recall a year where there have ever been this many contenders. Fresno State, San Diego State, Air Force, Utah State, and Boise State all have a realistic chance to come away with the title. From a talent perspective, I think Boise State and Fresno State have the best teams in the league. There have been some health concerns with Air Force heading into the season. If they can stay healthy they have a great shot. I am going to go with Fresno State winning a close game against Boise State.
NittanyFalcon: I agree with Zach on the five contenders, I don’t think anyone should exclude Utah State from the list. The Aggies again benefit from the easiest conference schedule of these five teams; they don’t have to play the Aztecs of the Bulldogs out of the West. This was what enabled them to sneak past the Broncos and the Falcons last year. The Aggies however, have lost three of their most important players from last year; Henninger, Rice, and Thompkins, and will be relying on transfer players to replace them. Boise suffers from the worst schedule, having to play all of the other four contenders, although four of them are at home.
Jeff: The Mountain West has developed a strong core of repeat offenders. I think Utah State and San Jose State were both anomalies due primarily to Covid restrictions. One needs to just look at the consistency that Air Force, Boise, Fresno and San Diego have all developed. Much is going for these teams to be the top four contenders. The issue I see, as always, are injuries. If a team can replace production, they will not lose step. I think that defense will be the determining factor even with the powerful Fresno State offense. I am sticking with the Aztecs to hold off tough challenges from Boise, Air Force and Fresno.