Every year I write preseason predictions in the beginning of August. And every year, I revisit these predictions at the end of the season. The 2023 season came with plenty of twists and turns. Let’s see how each team stacked up to my preseason expectations. This week, we are going to take a look at teams that were in the former Mountain Division.
Note: These are not a ranking of how the team finished. These are rankings of my preseason predictions.
Air Force (Preseason Prediction 9-3, Final Record 9-4)
The Falcons had a very manageable out-of-conference schedule, and it allowed them to start the season off with a bang. Through the first two-thirds of the season, Air Force looked like a New Year’s Six team. Eventually, injuries caught up with the Falcons and they lost their final four games of the regular season. The team was healthy for the bowl game and rolled over a solid James Madison team. That win really showed what this team was capable of when they were healthy.
Colorado (Preseason Prediction 6-6, Final Record 5-7)
It was pretty clear that the Rams were going to be better in 2023. That held true, but this team continued to have many of the same issues that plagued them in 2022. The offensive line could not establish a consistent running attack, turnovers were a significant problem, and the team lacked discipline which resulted in far too many penalties. The Rams ultimately fell short of a bowl game, but they did pull off a miraculous victory over Boise State.
Utah State (Preseason Prediction 5-7, Final Record 6-7)
It was pretty clear that this team had a number of flaws in the trenches and the quarterback position was a major weakness. Having the worst rush defense in the conference proved too much for the Aggies to overcome. Inconsistencies in the passing attack also held back an offense that had a ton of potential. It looks like the Aggies are going to try to make a quick fix in the transfer portal; it will be interesting to see if these additions pan out.
New Mexico (Preseason Prediction 4-8, Final Record 4-8)
The issues heading into the season were pretty clear for the Lobos and ultimately proved to be true. This team did have a certain level of optimism with the addition of Dylan Hopkins at quarterback. However, Hopkins dealt with some injuries over the course of the season. It did feel like this team improved significantly on the offensive side of the ball over the course of the season. But, the play on the defensive side of the ball prevented the Lobos from being a bowl team and ultimately cost Danny Gonzales his job.
Boise State (Preseason Prediction 10-2, Final Record 8-6)
My prediction of the Broncos winning the conference was ultimately correct, but how they got there was certainly unexpected. Outside of the Washington game, the Broncos were in every game they played. There were a number of questionable decisions late in games that ultimately cost Andy Avalos his job. The struggles of starting quarterback Taylen Green were unexpected and the handling of the quarterback situation was questionable, but the firing of Andy Avalos lit in fire in this team. They caught fire late in the season and got some help from Fresno State and Air Force to make the conference championship game where they defeated UNLV in convincing fashion.
Wyoming (Preseason Prediction 7-5, Final Record 9-4)
The Cowboys surprised me this year. I knew they would have a solid season, but I didn’t expect them to dominate at home and beat Texas Tech. The weakness of this team was on the road where they finished 1-4. Wyoming looked like a completely different team outside of Laramie; their four road losses came by a combined 73 points. Talk about a team with two different identities.
None of the predictions met this criteria.
Did your team meet their preseason expectations? How do you see things playing out in 2024? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.