We are back at it. Now that the college football season is a month old, the rankings have a large enough sample size to begin to solidify week to week. This week, not much has changed even though the conference had a great week overall. 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.
Here are last week’s rankings for reference.
1) Air Force
Halfway through the season and Air Force is the unquestioned leader of the Mountain West in the 2023 season. The defense has been strong or elite or dominating or whatever word you want to use all season long, living up to the hype. However, it’s the way the offense has improved each week that has allowed Air Force to emerge as a top team. They have passed every test this season, with Wyoming being the latest team they beat. The Falcons are now ranked ahead of their rivalry game against Navy.
The Cowboys lost a close contest, but they should still be mentioned in the same sentence as Air Force when it comes to the strength of the Mountain West. Their defense is great as usual and while their offense is still keeping them from being an elite team, it is no longer keeping from being a great team.
3) Fresno State
The Bulldogs were able to bounce back this weekend and return to the win column. It was a close, back-and-forth game, but they found a way to get the victory. Even more impressive with that Fresno State won without their starting quarterback and cornerback, which is something they didn’t do much of last season. They are still a very good team and are in the hunt for the conference championship. But at this point, they are just a bit behind the top two teams in the Mountain West.
It was more of the same for the Rebels this week, dominating their in-state rival to keep the cannon red. At this point, no one should question whether or not they are a good team, because they are. While their schedule may be on the lighter side, UNLV is doing all they can, controlling what they can control. And what they can control is their effective offense that doesn’t miss a beat no matter who is at quarterback, in large thanks to their rushing attack. Plus, their defense makes plays and competes each week. Their biggest tests will come at the end of the season.
5) Utah State
The Aggies did get off to a good start last week and they ended up losing. However, it seems like they have been figuring things out the past few games. Cooper Legas continued to show he can be a capable starting QB and the wide receivers boasted three players with over 100 yards. Utah State continues to gain positive momentum as the season presses on and currently are the best middling team in the Mountain West.
6) Colorado State
The Rams got their first win ever against Boise State and it was a magical comeback full of big plays. They were far from perfect, but they persevered and made adjustments, both of which helped them claw back into the game. The Rams are basically taking a positive step this season and are firmly in the hunt for a bowl berth this season.
7) Boise State
Last week, there was some hope that the Broncos may have turned a corner with their big come back win. However, that energy and strong play only lasted for two more quarters, as things unravled once again in spectacular fashion. The offense was rolling but suddenly forgot how to move the ball and the quarterback situation is a mess. The defense still can’t defend the pass well. Things are as bleak in Boise as they have ever been.
8) San Diego State
At least we know the Aztec offense was busy during the bye week. They came out firing and finished strong, putting up double-digit points in the first and last quarters. The defense continues to look like a shell of itself and had some trouble with Hawaii’s offense. But at the end of the day, San Diego State got a much needed win and that counts for something.
9) San Jose State
San Jose State played poorly for three straight quarters, going scoreless. Then, they decided enough was enough and took out their frustrations on the disappointing season on New Mexico. The offense erupted for 52 points as the team ran away with the game and turned it into a laugher. For at least one week, the team they were supposed to be was on display. Unforunatley, it didn’t change their place in the rankings.
10) New Mexico
The Lobos came out of the bye week and showed some life, but ultimately it was the same outcome this week. They actually led after both the first quarter and first half, but things unraveled quickly in the third quarter. The offense continues to look pretty good, but the defense has been very bad this year and had a terrible showing this past week. The past two years, they have run out of gas in the second half of the season and this week did not do anything to change that narrative.
It’s a new week but the same story for Hawaii, losing to the struggling Aztecs this week. Their offense is keeping them in games and is usually exciting, possessing the ability to score in a hurry. On the other hand, their defense is not able to keep pace with the opposition. It’s a long, rough rebuild for Coach Chang and although there are bright spots, there is still a long way to go for Hawaii.
At this point, it’s fair to question if Nevada is going to win a game this season. It was lather, rinse, and repeat for the Wolf Pack this week. The offense struggled to put points up until the end and the defense couldn't stop the Go-Go offense. It looks like it’s going to be a long season for the Wolf Pack.