Week 1 is in the books. The Mountain West has gone 9-7 in their opening round of games (11 teams playing this past weekend, plus five teams also playing in Week 0), and so far things have gone according to the script. They have beat FCS teams and lost to Power 5 teams. Though it’s still only one week, impressions can start to form from the games we saw this weekend. Clearly, sample sizes are, in fact small, and there is still a lot of season left. But for now, we are going off of the results of these first games. Therefore, let’s look at the initial impressions and small sample size from the Mountain West.
The Mountain West is going to have a down year.
Through 16 games, the Mountain West is only 9-7. That is a less than impressive record, and those nine wins don’t even tell the entire story. Fresno State, San Jose State, Utah State, and Wyoming all either got off to slow starts or had to come from behind to get a win against teams thought to be weaker competition (including two FCS teams). While slow starts can be common, trailing in the fourth quarter is not okay in what are supposed to be gimmie games. If the conference is collectively struggling in their easier games, it doesn’t bode well for their national perception this season.
Don’t expect upsets.
For a conference that has pulled off a number of Power 5 upsets in 2021 and 2019 (with 2020 being the covid year), those signature wins have been completely absent through the first two weeks of the season. In fact, games for Mountain West teams have gone according to the script thus far. Against FCS teams, the MWC is 5-0. Against other Group of 5 teams (including independents like New Mexico State and UConn), they are 4-1. However, the Mountain West is 0-6 against teams from Power 5 conferences. Things could change as soon as next weekend (looking at you, Air Force and Fresno State), but no one should hold their breath while waiting for a big upset.
It’s a great time to be a backup quarterback. Not so much for the starters.
There were numerous quarterback battles for Mountain West teams during fall camp this year. It now appears that more battles will be taking place in September. Boise State, Hawaii, Nevada, San Diego State, and Utah State all changed quarterbacks so far in this season due to inefficiency (although the Aztec coaches cited an injury as well). The Broncos and Aggies didn’t really have a QB competition this summer, and now BSU arguably has the most uncertainty at the position compared to the other teams on this list. If teams are struggling, especially on offense, backup quarterbacks will be getting opportunities to see what they can do on the field.
The more things change, the more they stay the same.
Most of the Mountain West teams have been on brand so far this season. There are certainly exceptions, such as the positive play of Nevada and UNLV, but here are more examples of continuing trends that have been going on for years:
- Wyoming struggling to generate a passing game
- Ditto for San Diego State
- Boise State is still struggling to run the ball and have an offense with explosive plays
- Utah State is still coming up with big plays at the right times after their slow starts
- Hawaii playing multiple quarterbacks in a game in an attempt to find a rhythm
- Coach Norvell teams struggling on defense
Stats extrapolated over a full season (12 games)
#SmallSampleSizeAlert (These are mostly just fun ways to look at numbers after one week. Obviously, none of this is likely to happen)
- Brad Roberts and Haaziq Daniels: 1368 and 1284 rushing yards, respectively
- Doug Brumfield: 48 passing TDs
- Jake Haener: 4524 passing yards
- Ricky White: 2184 receiving yards, 24 TDs
- JL Skinner: 144 tackles
- Kyle Harmon and DJ Schramm: 132 tackles each
- Reco Hannah: 36 sacks
- Bentlee Sanders: 18 INTs
- George Holani: 108 yards
- John Hoylan: 72 FGs made
- Colorado State offense: 7 ppg, 12 TDs, 2628 total yards
- UNLV offense: 52 ppg, 84 TDs, 6804 total yards
- New Mexico defense: 0 ppg, 118 ypg
- Hawaii: 56 ppg, 506.5 ypg
Your turn: What were your impressions of the first week of games, and what are your thoughts about our impressions?