The 2023 football season was full of the unexpected. The championship match-up between Boise State and UNLV was the perfect example of this. Whether or not the season was a success for the conference is certainly up for debate, but it definitely wasn’t lacking entertaining games and moments. Let’s take a look back at the good, bad, and ugly moments of the 2023 football season.
Boise State Overcomes Adversity
This was easily the most puzzling season in Boise State history. The season was full of highs and lows, but the ultimate goal was accomplished when the Broncos took home the Mountain West Championship. The Broncos had a rough start to the season losing non-conference games to UCF and Memphis. Both games were winnable and featured questionable decisions by the coaching staff. The season reached its lowest points when the Broncos blew a huge lead to Colorado State and lost on a hail Mary. In this game, head coach Andy Avalos pulled many starters in the fourth quarter, and the lack of game management may have ultimately cost him his job.
Avalos was fired after a victory over New Mexico and defensive coordinator Spencer Danielson took over. Danielson lit a fire under the Broncos, leading them to victories over Utah State, Air Force, and eventually, a convincing win in the Mountain West Championship over Air Force. The late season push landed Danielson the permanent job. Will he be able to take the Broncos to the next level?
UNLV Finally Rises From the Ashes
A team that is traditionally one of the worst in the conference had its best season in decades. Barry Odom brought a new energy to the Rebel football program, and it has paid instant dividends. Odom was able to use the transfer portal to bring in key contributors on both sides of the ball. Wide receiver Ricky White emerged as one of the best players in the conference, and linebacker Jackson Woodard was a force on the defensive side of the ball.
The Rebels were a bit exposed on defense as they faced better teams in the final weeks of the season, and with success comes players leaving in the transfer portal. Can the Rebels replace star quarterback Jayden Maiava? Will they improve on the defensive side of the ball? Only time will tell.
The Bulldogs and Falcons Implode
Halfway through league play it certainly seemed like either the Bulldogs or Falcons (probably both) would play for the conference championship. The Falcons entered their ninth game of the season with an 8-0 record. But injuries ultimately plagued the Falcons as they dropped the final four games of the regular season, costing them a bid to the conference championship game.
The story isn’t much different for the Bulldogs. They were also bitten by the injury bug and it proved costly late in the season. They lost their final three games of the season to finish league play 4-4. There are plenty of what if moments for both teams in 2023.
The Aztecs Have a Season They Hope to Forget
San Diego State’s football program has been a consistent force in the Mountain West. They are almost always in the hunt for a conference championship and are a lock to play in a bowl game. 2023 was a different season for the Aztecs. They finished 4-8 and missed out on a bowl game for the first time since 2009. Brady Hoke stepped down as head coach and was replaced by an offensive minded head coach in Sean Lewis. I really like what Lewis has done recruiting, and I think the Aztecs will be back on track next season.
The Tiebreaker Goes to the Computers
Computers have no business deciding who plays in a championship game. I thought we were over this with the removal of the BCS system. San Jose State was the hottest team in the conference when the season concluded and finished the season with six consecutive wins including a win over UNLV. Who should play in the conference championship seemed pretty simple to me. San Jose State beat UNLV and Boise State beat San Jose State. For that reason, the Broncos and Spartans should have been facing off for the conference championship.
Which moments from this past season were most memorable for you? Leave your thoughts in the comments below.