We are back at it. Teans continue to shuffle around as some look great every week and others are inconsistent, playing well one week and looking poor the next. 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
Another week, another win for the Bulldogs. It is interesting that they have looked phenomenal against Purdue and Arizona State, but nearly suffered an upset against Eastern Washington. Was Week 2 an anomaly or a sign of some inconsistency for Fresno State? That remains to be seen, but what is apparent is that currently, this team is the best in the conference until further notice. The offense has rounded into form, silencing the doubters (including this writer), and the is great at generating turnovers, with eight of them this past week. They appear to be the most complete team in the Mountain West through three games.
2) Air Force
After an underwhelming performance by the offense last week, the Falcons were explosive to start the game against Utah State. The offense ran exactly like it should, dominating the time of possession with a steady dose of run plays. And everyone knows how good the defense is and they suffocated the Aggie offense, keeping them in check in the early part of the game. The Air Force defense will keep them in every game, but this year’s ceiling will come down to their offense and if they can keep improving.
The Cowboys have navigated their tough schedule as well as anyone to begin the year. They went toe-to-toe with Texas and the score does not indicate how close the game actually way. It is clear their run game on offense will be among the best in the conference with Harrison Waylee leading the charge. Also, they have gotten some surprisingly good play at quarterback as their passing game is a threat in the early going. However, this team is a bit confusing. They have played up to their competition in the two games against Power 5 teams, but appeared to play down to the FCS team in Week 2. It’s worth watching if that continues going forward.
The Rebels have looked very good this year. Even in their loss to Michigan, they played better than the score. This week, UNLV had a very winnable game against Vanderbilt and pulled off the win. It is clear the new coaching staff has the team playing hard, especially on defense. The offense is still a bit of a work in progress as players adjust to the new system, but they utilize their talent well and there is definitely no shortage of talent. The Rebels still have a long season and need to avoid the letdown that cost them a bowl game last year, but they belong in this spot as the top of the second tier of the conference rankings.
5) Boise State
The Broncos finally got in the win column this weekend, although it is worth noting they played an FCS team. The offense made better use of their talented skill players, and if not for three costly turnovers in the third quarter, likely would have put up even more points. The defense still had some issues, but this game demonstrated their blueprint for success. When they can get a consistent pass rush, it takes the pressure off of the secondary and limits the number of explosive plays. In order to be successful, they will need to see improvement in either the defensive line, backfield or both. But for this week, they looked like the Boise State people are used to seeing.
6) San Diego State
The Aztecs are more or less looking like the team they have been for years. The defense plays solid football and is skilled at creating turnovers. The special teams play is tremendous and consistent. Then, there is the offense. While it isn’t short on talent, it is short on efficiency. Mayden is the quarterback they have been waiting for, but he still contributes more to the running game than the passing game. They have good tight end play and a room full of productive running backs, but lack the dynamic vertical threats to transform the offense. Due to that, they are regulated to the middle of the rankings at this juncture of the season.
7) San Jose State
San Jose State has played an extremely tough schedule and their record reflects it. However, they haven’t showed much in the early part of the season. Their offense keeps them in games and Chevan Cordeiro has been tremendous thus far this season. However, the Spartan defense is feeling the losses from last year, At this point through four games, they don’t seem able to stop the opposition and that is not a good recipe for winning games. Fortunately, there is still time to turn things around, but there is a lot of work to do in order to accomplish that.
8) Utah State
The Aggies came back to earth this past week following their record-setting performance in Week 2. They struggled in their first conference game getting behind big early and weren’t able to recover in time to make it a game. Utah State struggled against the vaunted Falcon defense, which led to a quarterback change later in the game. For the second season in a row, the Utah State program may have questions at the most important offensive position. Until they can answer that question, it will be tough sledding for the Aggies.
9) Colorado State
The Rams gave it everything they had in the Rocky Mountain Showdown, but came up just short against their in-state rival. The offense finally looked like the Jay Norvell Air-Raid with Brayden Fowler-Nicolosi at quarterback. He was poised and accurate, producing big plays and did not appear overwhelmed. If the offense can keep playing like this, Colorado State should be competitive for the rest of the season. It will be interesting to see how they rebound next week coming off this emotional loss.
10) New Mexico
The Lobos lost their big in-state rivalry game, which is a disappointment for the program. They did not play poorly and the game was back and forth for much of the evening. However, it does provide a measure stick to where the New Mexico program currently is. Their offense has improved since last year but their defense has taken a step back, leaving the Lobos more or less in the same spot. There is still potential with this team, but they haven’t figured it all out yet.
The Rainbow Warriors have played a tough schedule to start their year, and they are probably a better team than their record shows. No one expected the game against Oregon to be close and those expectations were met, as Hawaii got destroyed against a ranked team. They definitely have some pieces in place on both sides of the ball and it’s likely they will climb a few spots in the rankings once conference play begins.
This week, the Wolf Pack had a much better showing, going toe-to-toe with Kansas, who is no pushover. However, looking at the totality of their season, and Nevada still appears to be the weakest team in the Mountain West. However, it was great to see they come out and hold their own with a good team, something that wasn’t seen in the two games prior. Nevada showed some bright spots, and hopefully that is a building block for the rest of the season. Wins won’t be automatic, but they still may occur.