We are less than a month away from the opening weekend of college football. We now have a good idea of what rosters look like and have spent time analyzing our expectations for the upcoming season. For the next few weeks, we will be making our final predictions for the upcoming season. This week, we will be breaking down what we expect from each member of the former Mountain Division. Without further ado, here is the good, bad, and ugly of Mountain Division predictions.
The Broncos have the toughest schedule in the conference, and their out of conference record may not be an indicator of how talented this team actually is. The Broncos open the season on the road with a Washington team that should be in the top 10, and then play host to a talented UCF squad. The Broncos also have to travel to Memphis, which will likely be another tough game. If Boise State can take two of those three games, I like their chances at making a run for a New Year’s Six Bowl.
As far as the conference slate goes, it doesn’t get much easier for the Broncos. They have to travel to San Diego and Fresno and also host Air Force and Wyoming. I do think the rigor of the OOC schedule will help this team when it comes to conference play, and that is why they will be able to secure a spot in the conference championship game.
Final Prediction: 10-2 (8-0 in conference play)
Unlike the Broncos, the Falcons have a very manageable conference schedule. Losing more than one game in conference play would be a huge disappointment. The Falcons have their usual rivalry games against Army and Navy, while also playing Sam Houston State and Robert Morris. Honestly, the expectation should be to go 4-0 in those out of conference games.
The conference schedule brings with it a few more challenges. Air Force’s first two conference games will go a long way in telling us where this team stands. They will host Utah State and travel to San Jose State, two teams that are expected to finish in the middle of the pack. The Falcons finish the season by travelling to Boise, a game that may decide if they can secure a spot in the conference championship game.
Final Prediction: 9-3 (5-3 in conference play)
While the Broncos may have the toughest scheule, the Cowboys aren’t far off. Their OOC schedule is really tricky. The Cowboys managed to pull off getting Texas Tech to Laramie, a game that this team will win if they are a real threat. Wyoming also hosts Appalachian state and travels to Austin to take on Texas, a game where they will likely be a heavy underdog. Even if the Cowboys finish 2-2 in nonconference play, I will feel good about where this team is heading.
The conference schedule is a little tricky. Wyoming has to travel to Boise State and Air Force and host Fresno State. The Cowboys will probably need to win two of those three games and avoid any slipups along the way if they have any shot at making the conference championship game.
Final Prediction: 7-5 (5-3 in conference play)
Bad might be a little bit of a stretch. I think the Rams are going to show significant improvement this year. Their non-conference schedule is intriguing with two PAC 12 games against Colorado and Washington State. Those games will determine where this team stands and if they can hang with the teams listed above. The Rams have to avoid another catastrophic OOC showing like last year, making the games against Middle Tennessee and Utah Tech must-wins.
The conference schedule is manageable as the Rams avoid playing some of the better teams in the conference like Fresno State and Utah State. This team has too much talent on the offensive side of the ball to repeat the awful numbers they had in 2022. They also have some great individual players on the defensive side of the ball.
Final Prediction: 6-6 (4-4 in conference play)
The Aggies have one of the most intriguing non-conference schedules in the Mountain West. On paper, almost every game looks like it could go either way. Iowa is nowhere near one of the top ten teams, UCONN is improved but should be a win, and James Madison could go either way, as well.
The Aggies have to face each of the teams expected to finish in the top five in the conference. I think the Aggies will probably be eliminated from conference championship contending by the halfway point of the conference schedule.
Final Prediction: 5-7 (3-5 in conference play)
I love the changes the Lobos made on the offensive side of the ball, but this team was a long way away from being good in 2022. It is hard to see them improving that much in 2023. I will say this, the Lobos do have three winnable games on their OOC slate with matchups against New Mexico State, UMass and Tennessee Tech. They need to win all three of those game to have any shot at sneaking into a bowl.
The conference slate doesn’t look so good for the Lobos. They have to travel to Boise, Laramie, and Fresno. They need to win all of the games against the lower tier of the conference like Hawaii, Nevada, and UNLV. It is hard to see that happening.
Final Prediction: 4-8 (2-6 in conference play)
How do you see things playing out for the teams listed above? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.