We are back at it. Now that everyone has played, the rankings have changed to reflect actual games rather than preseason speculation. 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) Fresno State
As far as encores go, this was pretty lackluster for the the Bulldogs. After a big upset, it’s safe to say there was a letdown. Eastern Washington took them to overtime, and nearly pulled off the upset of their own. Still, the Fresno State offense seems legit and the team remains the front-runner in the conference. Their defense looks a bit concerning through two games and is something to watch, but they keep finding ways to get the job done in the early going.
2) Air Force
Last week, Air Force dominated. This week, they turned in an underwhelming performance. While they could have moved down a spot, they hold second place in the rankings due to the strength of their defense, which held Sam Hosuton to a field goal this weekend. While it is surprising that the offense did not score more, it’s clear the defense can continue to carry the team.
Similar to the two teams above them, the Cowboys looked like they were suffering from a Week 1 hangover. Portland State keep things closer than most would have guessed before Wyoming pulled away and sealed the victory. Through two games, the offense looks drastically improved from past years, which is a huge boon to the program as the defense is living up the preseason hype in the early going. A touch matchup against Texas looms next weekend, but the conference looks ripe for the taking and this could be the years the Cowboys put it all together.
4) San Jose State
The Spartans finally got in a win column, and they did so convincely. Granted, it was against FCS Cal Poly, but the offense looked like the dominant unit that was advertised during the preseason. It is still hard to say what the actual San Jose State team looks like, as they have yet to play a team close to their caliber of talent. But for this week at least, they occup the fourth spot because they look a bit better than the next few teams on the list, even though there is a large gap between the third and fourth spot on the rankings.
5) San Diego State
San Diego State came back down to earth a bit following their blowout loss to UCLA. Many people figured this team was punching above their weight class after their 2-0 start and if this past week is any indication, that was accurate. The offense is much more balanced than years past, but it doesn’t mean it’s a dynamic one. On the other side of the ball, the Aztec defense looks good, but not the dominate force it needs to be to keep the team in games. It will be worth watching if they can find some kind of winning formula going forward.
6) Utah State
The Aggies held their own in the season opener and then came out this past weekend playing as great of a. game as anyone in college football. Now the quality of their opponent should be kept in mind, but still, Utah State set multiple program records with their performance this past weekend. The offense scored early and often in a balance attack while the defense even got in on the fun, converting some turnovers into points themselves. No one would expect the Aggies to have this kind of performance again this season, but perhaps there is more life to the team than some previously thought.
7) Boise State
Speaking of life, it’s been hard to find any for the Broncos through two weeks. They have arguably the best player in the conference in Ashton Jeanty, but not much else is going smoothly for the offense, who has put up just 35 points through two games. And that is the better side of the ball for Boise State. Their defense has been atrocious, giving up 500 or more yards in back-to-back performances. One of the few glimmers of hope is that the team has faced two straight Power 5 teams who could finish among the top of the leaderboard in offenses. But if they can’t find a way to rebound, it will be a long season for this team.
The Rebels played about as well as any team can play in a 35-7 loss to the second-ranked team in the country,. They played hard, but were clearly outclassed. This was evident on defense, as UNLV could not stop their opponent with any regularity. The Rebel offense moved the ball in spurts, but lack any a dynamic presence, especially in the passing attack. Like many teams on this list, it’s clear that they have yet to play a team near their level of talent, so it’s hard to accurately evaluate the team in 2023 at this juncture.
9) New Mexico
This was the Lobo offense fans were hoping to see in 2023. Yes it was against an inferior opponent, but the team made sure Tennessee Tech was inferior, which wasn’t a given this week when the Moutain West played FCS teams. Dylan Hopkins led New Mexico effectively and the team put up over 50 points in the game, providing hope that their offense will no longer hold them back from being competitive. Likewise, the defense rounded into form this week as well. It will be interesting to see how much can carry over into future games, but for one week, all was right with the Lobos.
The Rainbow Warriors found themselves in the win column this weekend as well. It wasn’t pretty, as the game against Albany was much closer than it should have been considering they were playing an FCS team who had to travel far at home. But on the other hand, a win is a win. Hawaii is much more fun to watch when they are running the exciting run-and-shoot offense. However, it is important to remember the scheme is both a blessing and a curse. It will keep Hawaii in games for better and for worse this season.
11) Colorado State
(Bye, no change in write-up)
This year’s Rams scored over twenty points in their opening game, a feat they haven’t done before in the Norvell era. The game didn’t go as planned by any means, but there were some signs of hope for a better season from Colorado State this year. The offense didn’t start playing better until the game was out of hand, and not until after the starting QB left with an injury. Like many teams in the Mountain West, it will be interesting to see how they do against teams who aren’t as strong in the coming weeks.
The Wolf Pack also got blown out in Week 1, which made sense. Then they went ahead and lost to an FCS team in Week 2, which did not make sense. For a team that lost it’s last ten games last season and has now opened this year with two losses, they are approaching one year since their last win. Year 2 is often when things hit rock bottom and that may be where Nevada is heading this season. It’s undoubtedly rough, but hopefully some bright spots can emerge.