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This Week in the Mountain West: Week 0

Looking at the week leading up to games.

COLLEGE FOOTBALL: OCT 03 Navy at Air Force Photo by Mat Gdowski/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

Mountain West Football finally begins this weekend on Saturday, August 27th. The contesting match-ups for Saturday include UConn at Utah State, Wyoming at Illinois, Vanderbilt at Hawai‘i, Nevada at New Mexico State, and finally Idaho State at UNLV.

UConn versus Utah State

The defending Mountain West champions, Utah State, enter the year with a seven-game road winning streak and are now set to face off versus UConn at home to open up their 2022 season. With UConn enduring some serious struggles over the past five seasons with a total win record of 6-23 and Utah State is favored by almost four touchdowns, it is safe to say Utah State is a confident bet for this game. However, UConn’s new head coach, Jim Mora, sets out to pave a new path for UConn football by recruiting previous Penn State quarterback Ta’Quan Roberson in hopes of helping the team’s offense. Jim Mora understands the team he is going up against, stating in a recent press conference this past Tuesday.

“We’re excited to go out and face a very good Utah State team. They are one of the top offenses in the country, certainly one of the top teams in the country. They play solid defense and are very well coached.”

Defensively, the Huskies will have struggles battling against Utah State’s coach, Blake Anderson, and returning quarterback Logan Bonner. Not to mention, Utah State has strong members of their last year’s offensive line returning as well. Jim Mora is seeking to turn around the UConn Huskie football program, but it is unlikely to be against Utah State this Saturday.

Wyoming versus Illinois

The Big Ten and the Mountain West wage war against each other this Saturday at 1 pm (PST) with Wyoming traveling to Memorial stadium in Champaign, Illinois. Wyoming’s nine-year veteran coach, Craig Bohl, has led the team to four bowl games out of the past six years and finished the 2021 season 7-6 with an Idaho Potato Bowl win. However, the Cowboys are playing against a power-five football team, which hasn’t written well in the past eight years for the Wyoming football program with a record of only 1-8 against power-five football teams.

One important situation to recognize is what quarterback will lead the Fighting Illini offense into the 2022 season. Illinois’s coach, Bret Bielema, has been reluctant to give any further information regarding the situation. It seems that Syrucuse transfer Tommy DeVito is their guy, however we won’t know for sure till this Saturday.

Vanderbilt at Hawai‘i

An SEC and Mountain West match up at 7:30 pm (PST) this Saturday. The Commodores travel across the nation to Aloha stadium to battle the Rainbow Warriors and first-time head coach Timmy Chang. The quarterback story for Hawai’i is fairly interesting with some returnees and newcomers joining the squad. In a recent article published by Hawai’i Athletics the team’s offensive coordinator, Ian Shoemaker, discussed how Sophomore Brayden Schager is most likely to start this Saturday against Vanderbilt.

“He’s a big athlete, understands the pocket and has a good presence in there. I’ve seen him become more comfortable making decisions.”

One other asset Hawai’i has on their side is in their past twelve college football openers whenever they were the underdogs they hold an 11-1 record, and this Saturday Vanderbilt is favored by only one touchdown. However, Vanderbilt is an SEC team, not the best SEC team, but still, a squad that plays against some of the best-ranked teams in the country every year. Overall, this will be an exciting football game to watch.

Nevada at New Mexico State

New Mexico State hosts Nevada this year for their season-opening game on Saturday at 11 am (PST) as nine-point underdogs. With the exit of both Carson Strong and Romeo Doubs, it is safe to say Nevada’s first-year head coach, Ken Wilson, had some rebuilding to do this off-season on the offensive side of the ball. Quarterbacks Nate Cox and Shane Illingworth are currently competing for the starting quarterback position for Nevada, however, according to a recent Fox Sports article, it seems that both quarterbacks will be seeing reps this week against New Mexico State.

Named the head coach last November for New Mexico State, Jerry Kill, and quarterback Diego Pavia will be leading the fight against Nevada this Saturday. This Mountain West match up will be fairly interesting to watch considering the rebuilding both teams are taking on this off-season with a first-year head coach for both Nevada and New Mexico State. However, only time will tell how these two teams will play against each other, but we won’t know for sure till this college football Saturday.

Idaho State at UNLV

The Idaho State Bengals take on the UNLV Rebels this Saturday at Allegiant Stadium at noon (PST). Both these teams experienced a rough 2021 season with both teams combining a win total of only three games. However, both teams are looking to add some much needed stability to their team for the 2022 season. Idaho State will begin the year with a new head coach, Charlie Ragle, and a new Junior starting quarterback Tyler Vander Waal. The Idaho State Journal recently published an article by Greg Woods interviewing Alex Wright at the Las Vegas Review-Journal. Greg Woods expects either Doug Brumfield or Harrison Bailey to start against New Mexico State, however, Alex Wright says we will have to wait to see till this Saturday.

UNLV is currently favored by 18.5 points this Saturday, and the last time these two teams met up in 2015 UNLV pounded the Bengals 80-8.

Keep visiting MWCCOnnection for all the latest news and updates for this week and all season long.