We are back at it. Now that the college football season is a month old, the rankings have a large enough sample size to begin to solidify week to week. This week, not much has changed even though the conference had a great week overall. 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. This was their final tune-up game before they begin conference play. They continue to appear to be the league’s best and most balanced team. The offense has rounded into form, silencing the doubters (including this writer), and the defense is great at generating turnovers. They shouldn’t have any issue as they face their first Mountain West opponent this coming weekend.
2) Air Force
It was a tale of two halves for the Falcons this week. They were on upset watch during the first half as the San Jose State offense appeared to be too much for them. But then, Air Force figured things out and pitched a shutout in the second half while wearing SJSU down with their steady rushing attack. The AFA defense continues to be excellent and the offense is figuring out who their playmakers are. They are also showing up well in conference games so far this season, starting things off 2-0.
The Cowboys have navigated their tough schedule as well as anyone to begin the year. In a game they probably should have lost, they figured out a way to win this past weekend against another formidable opponent. The offense didn’t really show up until the fourth quarter, but the defense was sound for the duration of the game. Wyoming relied on some late-game magic to begin the year 3-1. Their rushing attack is finding its groove and if the offense can hold its own, they can keep winning games on the stretch of its defense.
The Rebels have looked very good this year. They have passed their tests during the first month of the season and have emerged with a 3-1 record. UNLV is establishing themselves as a solid rushing team with a number of playmakers who can make defenses pay when given too much space. It will be interesting to see how the team does transitioning into conference play. Hopefully it can endure injuries better than last season, but so far that doens’t seem to be an issue.
5) Boise State
The Broncos went back and forth against San Diego State in their conference opener and came away with a win, albeit an ugly one. They have a great rushing attack that has flashes of being lethal, but the passing game is a work in progress. On the other side of the ball, the defense is struggling to say the least and improvement is debatable and marginal at best. Still, Boise State has found ways to win the past two games and that should build some momentum and confidence.
6) San Jose State
The Spartans haven’t looked great, especially on the defense side of the ball, but for now they are at the top of the team fighting for a bowl game. Their offense is legit, although it isn’t enough to win them games on their own. Still, San Jose State is very balanced, able to score in bunches both on the ground and in the air. It is worth keeping an eye on how they play after the bye week going full steam ahead into conference play. Hopefully they can start to find answers on defense.
7) San Diego State
The Aztecs are struggling, although their schedule in the early going has been quite challenging. Their offense put up a lot of points last game against Boise State, and Mayden had one of his best games ever at quarterback. However, San Diego State looks very un-San Diego State-like on defense. They got carved up on the ground and though their secondary is talented, teams can scheme away from them too easily. They still have two months to turn things around, but the season is getting away from them in a hurry.
8) Colorado State
The Rams appear to be a completely different team on offense the past two weeks since they have made the change at quarterback. The air raid is now living up to its name and has allowed a number of playmakers to emerge in the receiving corps. The defensive side of the ball is still another story as they are giving up nearly as many points as they are scoring. With that being said, Colorado State does not appear to be an easy game and is putting up a fight, which is what matters at this point.
9) Utah State
The Aggies nearly pulled off a comeback reminiscent of their magical 2021 season. Unfortunately, they could not see it through and suffered another loss to fall to 1-3 on the young season. It is clear Utah State has some talent, and similar to Colorado State (and maybe UNLV), there is more potential with the younger quarterback. The defense also has some playmakers but it doesn’t seem to be enough to make them a formidable unit. While it feels like they should be playing better, this is where the Aggies are a month into the 2023 season.
10) New Mexico
The Lobos were able to bounce back this week, winning in overtime in a hard-fought game going on a long road trip. This is the offense that was envisioned with Dylan Hopkins and the new scheme when they made the change this past offseason. The defense still has some work to do to round into shape, but the team is competing. For New Mexico, they still need to prove they can avoid the second-half slump that has plagued them the past two seasons.
The Rainbow Warriors have played a tough schedule to start their year, and they are probably a better team than their record shows. On the other hand, on the field, they are showing just how far they still have to go to be a consistent threat. They definitely have some pieces in place on both sides of the ball and are a good bet to finish higher than this by the end of the season, but it will be a challenging road ahead.
It was a heartbreaking loss for the Wolf Pack this week. Not only was it one of their best chances to come away with a victory (against the last team they beat last season), they actually had the lead. Nevada was up 17-0 at halftime and things were looking great. But then, the wheels fell off in the second half and North Texas pulled away with a victory. Times are tough for Ken Wilson and his squad.