We have entered the portion in the offseason where experts start to make their projections for the upcoming season. One of the more entertaining projections each offseason comes from ESPN’s Bill Connelly. Connelly usually has a strong barometer of what is going on across the Mountain West. Let’s take a look at how he sees things playing out and my thoughts on the projection. This edition will focus on the good, bad, and ugly projections of the Mountain Division.
Connelly projects the Falcons to win 8.3 games. That number feels just about right. Air Force has a manageable out-of-conference schedule but suffered some key losses on the offensive side of the ball this past season. But, the Falcons should have one of the best defenses in the conference with a lot of their production returning. Air Force finishes the 2023 season in Boise with a game that could very well determine a spot in the conference championship game.
Connelly projects a fourth place finish and 4.5 wins for the Rams. Last year, I put too much stock in Jay Norvell. I thought he would be able to turn the team around fast and make them a bowl team. Five wins feels about right for this team; they have shown progress, but poor recruiting in the trenches will continue to haunt this team. This squad will be among the top of the conference at the skill positions, but they still have a long way to go in the trenches. That does not translate into a winning season.
On paper, this is the most talented Boise State offense in years. Taylen Green should show significant improvement as a passer, and the Boise State rushing attack should be one of the best in the nation with George Holani and Ashton Jeanty. The Broncos also return nearly all of their receiving production and have some young receivers that should be ready to contribute. I expect Eric McAllister to become Green’s primary target alongside Latrell Caples. Freshman receiver Zamondre Merriweather should also be a key contributor. Connelly only projects 7.5 wins for the Broncos. Despite a tough out-of-conference schedule, the Broncos should exceed that total fairly easily.
Connelly projects the Cowboys to finish the season with 5.5 wins. Craig Bohl and the Cowboys seem to be a consistent six or seven win team, so the projection isn’t far off. Bohl’s squad was once again ravaged by the transfer portal. But if there is one thing we have learned from this program, it is that Bohl’s team will exceed expectations. Six or seven wins feels like a better projection for this team.
It is hard to see a projection of 3.6 wins and I think it might be too generous. But it feels like this program is in a downward spiral, and it is hard to see a scenario where this team can get to four wins. The Lobos have some winnable games on their schedule, but I have a hard time seeing this team get more than two or three wins in 2023.
Connelly’s projection for the Aggies is downright disrespectful. He only has the team winning 4.3 games and finishing fifth in the conference. I think this squad is nowhere near a championship squad, but Blake Anderson is a winning coach and will do enough to get the Aggies to bowl eligibility. There are a number of questions surrounding this program, and where they go at the quarterback position will be interesting. However, the conference isn’t going to be very deep this year and they should be able to get to six wins.
What do you think about Connelly’s projections? Do you agree that Boise State and Air Force are the clear favorites? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.