We have reached the end of the roundtable, which means we have reached the end of the offseason. The Mountain West is in action tomorrow for Week 0. This week’s question is short and to the point: which team will win the Mountain West Conference this season?
Mike: Last year, I went with the Bulldogs. Although that didn’t always look like the best choice, it worked out in the end. I considered three teams for this season: Air Force, Boise State, and Fresno State. It’s not to say another team won’t emerge as a contender (see 2020 and 2021 as recent examples), but at this point, it comes down to these three. All three teams lost a great deal on at least one side of the ball this offseason, offense for the Falcons and Bulldogs and defense for the Broncos. On the other hand, the Bronco offense should be the best in the league and the Falcon defense should be right at the top as well. Neither would surprise me, but I think this is the year things come together for the Avalos-led Broncos and they host the trophy at the end of the season.
Graham: Fresno State avenged a loss in Boise for the Mountain West championship last season in a 28-16 game where Jake Haener threw for 184 yards and a touchdown and Jordan Mims rushed for two touchdowns and 83 yards. This season the Bulldogs lose several key starters including Jake Haener and Jordan Mims and only return four starters on offense. The Bulldogs return 7 starters on defense this season which should help Fresno State compete for another title. Air Force is another threat to win the conference as they return five starters on offense and eight on defense after a 10-3 season but the Falcons lose Haaziq Daniels and Brad Roberts in addition to leading receiver David Comier but there are no more divisions this season and Air Force gets three of its toughest opponents in Utah State, San Diego State, and Wyoming at home. While Fresno State and Air Force should challenge for the conference crown, Boise State may be in the best position to win a conference title. Andy Avalos is in his third season at his alma mater and has slowly been rebuilding the culture at Boise State. Taylen Green returns as do George Holani and Ashton Jeanty, which already presents an explosive talent on offense. This doesn’t even consider the depth that Boise State is going to have at the receiver position and the experience that returns on the offensive line. The Broncos return 9 total starters on offense and five starters on defense but Boise State did build experience with some injuries last season and has veteran talent at linebacker. The Biggest concern for Boise State’s defense comes with applying pressure on the defensive line, which Boise State should be just fine with the addition of JUCO transfers. Andy Avalos is a defensive-minded coach and should prepare the defense to be solid again. Boise State has come close to winning the conference championship twice in the past three seasons and has fallen short in the championship both times. With the most talented offense that Boise State has had in the Andy Avalos era and one of the most talented offenses that Boise State has returned since 2019, Boise State looks poised to be the conference champion this season.
Adam: Too much talent in Boise this season for anyone to overcome. The offense is loaded, and I am not sure anyone in conference can slow them down, or outgun them. I think Boise State will be hosting Air Force this season for the title game on December 2nd. Air Force has a stout defense, and a ball-controlling offense, but I still don’t think it will be enough to overcome Boise State. This Broncos squad will be undefeated in conference play, the real question will be how they will fair out of conference, especially with the big opener at Washington.
Jeff: Boise State. While that pains me they have done everything right. All that’s left is to play the games. I’m excited to see the game against Washington. That could really set the season. More fun will be watching to see who fights it out for second place. Some good contenders: Fresno, Air Force, San Diego, San Jose, Wyoming. Is there an upset among these? The fun is waiting each week to see.
Dom: As much as I don’t want to say this, Boise State is the easy choice. Taylen Green and George Holani are going to lead a dominant offense and Boise State will win just like last season. Teams like Fresno State, Air Force, and San Diego State will all be in contention for second place and a chance to face Boise State in the title game. Fresno lost a lot of offensive players, but the defense is plenty good enough to carry them up the standings. Same can be said for Air Force, as the Falcons probably have the best defense in the Mountain West. It’s going to be tight with how much talent these top teams have. Although the Broncos defense isn’t the strongest, there’s been no signs of them slowing down from last season. Whichever team faces the Broncos in the title game will have their hands full, and it’ll end with the trophy going back to Boise State.