2013-08-05 06:04

And as the next conference the one conference which thinks they have the better chance to become a big one, bigger than the former Big East, the now called American Athletic Conference.
I'm talking about the

Mountain West Conference
The Mountain West had the status as jumping point to bigger conferences.
The not so old conference did lose some teams in the last years and was doomed to lose a few more, when due some strange events those last teams decided to stay.
Official reason was given as the conference has a better chance to get an automatic bid for a BCS-Bowl (means earning big money) than the then named Big East (now American Athletic Conference).
That's a nice slap towards the Big East, since they had all the years the automatic bid (and still have) and they still have some nice teams in their ranks.
But truth be told, it does not look THAT good for the Big East. The Mountain West really HAS a chance to grab that automatic bid in the future.
And one of the teams, which decided to stay, is since years at the top of college football, Boise State.
So IF the conference gets the bid, and Boise keeps playing the same way it did in the past, not only will every team in the conference gain from that, also Boise State itself will have the better chance to get some really big money.
Sounds like Poker and maybe it IS a gamble.

So the conference stopped losing teams and was able to get some leftovers from the WAC, boosted it to 12 teams, which means CHAMPIONSHIP GAME (means some extra money).

Teams added 2013:
San Jose State (from WAC)
Utah State (from WAC)

Teams lost 2013:

It will be nice to see, how the conference will do as it will field 2 divisions the first time.

The 12 teams are:

Mountain Division:
United States Air Force Academy (Air Force) Falcons
Boise State University Broncos
Colorado State University Rams
University of New Mexico Lobos
Utah State University Aggies
University of Wyoming Cowboys

West Division:
California State University, Fresno (Fresno State) Bulldogs
University of Hawai'i at Manoa (Hawai'i) Warriors
University of Nevada, Reno (Nevada) Wolf Pack
San Diego State University Aztecs
San Jose State University Spartans
University of Nevada, Las Vegas (UNLV) Rebels

Now let's get a bit into the details:
Mountain Division

Air Force Falcons
Air Force is in my mind the best service academy fielding football in the last few years, having Navy right behind them.
The reason for this position in my ranking is, that they did not have a Bowl-less season since 2007. Navy did fail in 2011.
Troy Calhoun is the mind behind the Falcons success and he is here since ... 2007.
This year I expect them to reach a Bowl again, but I'm not sure they will be better than Navy.

Non-Conference games are against: Colgate (FCS), @Navy, Notre Dame and Army
That FCS game will be a winner and I'm sure Army will also be won again, but an away game against Navy is a very potential loss and Notre Dame will probably be too much.
A 2-2 record from here then.

The rest looks tough.
They have Boise State on Smurf Turf and also Nevada as away game. They play Utah State at home, but as 2nd game.
The season looks like a Bowl season with barley 6 wins in the pocket, maybe 7.
A mid field team.

Boise State Broncos
This is the team which did poker and I'm still not sure who won (or will win).
The Broncos wanted the TV rights for themself but also the Big East money which lead to a Mountain West stay.
Good? Bad? First look says bad, but the collection of teams might be good enough to get that automatic BCS Bowl bid away from the former Big East and then it might be good.
But if they would have changed to the Big East anyway, the would have the same in the Big East ... so .... confusing.
Chris Petersen is leading the Broncos in his 8th season and his record is 84-8!
They struggled a bit last season but still won a share of the conference title.
This season it should be better.

Non-Conference games are against: @Washington, UT Martin (FCS), Southern Miss and @BYU
I love the Broncos to start almost every time with a big opponent from one of the BCS conferences.
Last season was the first time they lost this game since they started this trend 4 years ago.
I think they will rebound this year. The rest will also be wins, even with a BYU away game.

Biggest thread in the remaining games might be Fresno State as an away game, since Nevada will be played at home.
This might become a perfect season and the Broncos are the favourite to win the conference.
This time they will win as the ONLY team in a championship game.

Colorado State Rams
Colorado State was good in the late 90s and 2000s, but did suffer since a few seasons.
New head coach Jim McElwain took over last season and won 4 games.
Not bad for a rebuilding team, but expectations are high.
He comes from Alabama (he was the OC until 2011), so there are no excuses.

Non-Conference games are against: Colorado, @Tulsa, CalPoly (FCS), @Alabama and UTEP!
Yes, 5 games in addition to the regular schedule.
Well, the rivalry game will be a win, Colorado is way deep in rebuilding, deeper than CSU.
But Tulsa might be too much and Alabama for sure. Only the FCS game will be another win.
UTEP might also be manageable, but it's behind the Alabama game ...
So I think 2-3 will be the result.

For the conference games, they have a lot of the easier games as away games. That won’t help.
I think they will win a few, but I'm not sure they will top the 4 wins from last season, sorry.
Another mid field team. This one with a down tendency.

New Mexico Lobos
Head Coach of the Lobos is since last season Bob Davie.
He was the HC of Notre Dame in the late 90s after Lou Holtz retired.
Since then he did Media stuff and last season he got the offer of the Lobos.
He took over a 1-11 team and won 4 games in his first year.
So, will we see a rise in production this season, too?
I'm not sold, I think they will get a bit better but the other teams in the division and conference are not sleeping.

Non-Conference games are against: UTSA, @UTEP, @Pitt and New Mexico State
This can be a 1-3 or even a 3-1 campaign. I think Pitt will be too much, but the rest is beatable.
It will depend on the progress the team made.

They have SDSU and Fresno State from the other division as away games, which will doom them for probably 2 losses here.
I think they will battle for a mid-field position and will probably be able to get somehow the 6 wins needed for a Bowl.

Utah State Aggies
Matt Wells is the new Headcoach this season; he is a Utah State assistant who was promoted, when Gary Andersen left for Wisconsin.
So the progress of the Aggies will probably be continued, if he has IT to do it.
He takes over an Aggies team on its peak, winning the WAC last season surprisingly and winning the Bowl game after that.
Now they are in a new conference and the will have to battle a few more of the better teams.

Non-Conference games are against: @Utah, Weber State (FCS), @USC and BYU
That's tough. The PAC teams as away games will be hard, the FCS game is for relaxing and BYU will also be not easy, even at home.
Last season they won against Utah at home and lost against BYU a close game on the road. On their peak.
Will they be better this season? I expect them to stay in form, but a coaching change is always hard to manage, so I'm expecting a 2-2 result here.

They have a surprisingly easy conference schedule from my point of view, they even have Boise State at home, and only SJSU away from the other conference.
Hawai'i at home.
I think they will cruise here to an easy 8-10 wins record and will probably only lose to Boise State.
If they WIN against the Broncos, they will probably play for the conference championship.

Wyoming Cowboys
The Cowboys did play under Dave Christensen (5th year now) a rodeo.
From Bowl season to bad season to Bowl season to bad season.
So what's in this year?
To be honest I'm not a Cowboys fan and I'm not sold on an up year.

Non-Conference games are against: @Nebraska, Idaho, North Colorado (FCS) and @Texas State
Sounds good for a start. They get a big defeat by Nebraska for sure, but then they can cash in 3 wins, I think.

Then they will play conference games and here does the lucky streak come to an end.
OK fine, they play the Lobos and the Rams at home, that could be the last wins of the season.
They got Hawai'i (at home), Fresno State (at home) and SJSU (away) which means, they will probably have lots of close games they likely will lose.
I'm expecting a less than 6 wins season and inside the conference they will battle New Mexico and Colorado State for last place (where I give the Cowboys the favourite part for being last).

West Division

Fresno State Bulldogs
I like the Bulldogs.
In his 2nd year now, Tim DeRuyter has all the tools to keep the Bulldogs on top.
Last season they had a 9-4 record including a bowl loss.
THIS season I expect more.

Non-Conference games are against: Rutgers, Cal Poly (FCS), @Colorado and @Idaho.
This schedule has all the tools to be a perfect start. Even Rutgers could be manageable, depended on how the Scarlet Knights will come out on the first game day.
Colorado is very much beatable and Idaho is more or less like an FCS team.
So 3-1 to 4-0 is possible.

Then there is the conference. Boise State is a downer, but at home. This could end in an upset (but unlikely).
Also Nevada at home and all other games are manageable.
Means, I'm expecting a double digit season and a trip to the conference championship game.

Title contenders.

Hawai'i Warriors
The Warriors didn't have an easy time the last few seasons.
June Jones did lift the program to its peak since a long time and then, when he accepted a bigger pay check from SMU, the program did crash.
The Warriors did pull the plug on Jones successor and did hire Norm Chow, former OC of the Titans, USC, UCLA and Utah.
He is now in his 2nd year and has to get the team into the right direction.
He took over a 6-7 WAC team and did polish it to a 3-9 MWC team. That's for sure NOT the right direction.
So he has to deliver a few more wins this season.

Non-Conference games are against: USC, @Oregon State, @Navy and Army.
This looks like a 1-3 campaign, sorry.
I think Navy will be quite good and only Army will suck enough to give them a chance for win.
The PAC teams are out of their league.

The remaining schedule is not much easier.
Lucky for them they got Colorado State and Wyoming from the other division, so there might be a few more wins possible.
They avoided Boise State but got Utah State as away game.
I think they might have a chance to get better than 3 wins from last week, but I doubt a Bowl season.

At the end they will sort in somewhere in the middle of the divisional standings.

Nevada Wolf Pack
I can't help, but I'm expecting a lot from Nevada.
But there are no signs for that.
They got in Brian Polian a new Headcoach, his first gig as HC.
He was with a lot of high profile teams, but the last few seasons always as special team coordinator.
He succeeds Hall Of Famer Chris Ault and takes over a 7-6 Wolf Pack team.
So why should they flourish now?
Don't know.
But they are in the best position to top those 7 wins from last season, IF they can handle SDSU.

Non-Conference games are against: @UCLA, UC Davis (FCS), @Florida State and BYU.
Here is the first stunner. If they can survive the season healthy, that last game of the season is at home against BYU and it can be a win.
I'm expecting a 2-2 record here, since UCLA and FSU will be too much.

The rest looks like a nightmare and that will show very early the character of the team.
Hawai'i at home will probably be an easy win, then Air Force and SDSU.
If they are THEN 3-0 in conference standings, the season looks fine.
They got the Broncos on the blue field, which will a sure loss and Fresno State as away game, which will be though.
The rest can be wins.

Probably a mid field team which might get very fast to the TOP or to the BOTTOM.

San Diego State Aztecs
The Aztecs will probably be the contender to challenge Fresno State for the Division title.
They will have Nevada on their heels but if they handle them right they have every tool to win big.
How so?
Rocky Long won a share of the conference title last season with SDSU and he is NOW in his 3rd year.
Normally that means UP in team progress.

Non-Conference games are against: Eastern Illinois (FCS), @Ohio State, Oregon State and @New Mexico State.
Ohio State is primed for a National Championship run, so that game will be a loss.
The rest looks manageable, even the Beavers at home (but not easy).
3-1 is not out of scope!

And then?
Nevada at home, Fresno State at home, Boise State at home, you cannot get a better chance to win the damn Division.
So if they manage to win those (they can even lose against the Broncos) they will play for the Conference title.

I give Fresno State the lead in this title race for the Division, but SDSU is in the best position to top them.

San Jose State Spartans
New Conference, new Headcoach in Ron Caragher (last season head coach of San Diego Toreros, an FCS team).
Last season the team was 11-2.
Mike MacIntyre, the Headcoach from last season, took the Colorado gig and left a quite good team.
A quite good WAC Team.
Now we are in the MWC and the game is on reset.

Non-Conference games are against: Sacramento State (FCS), @Stanford, @Minnesota and Navy.
If this would be the team of LAST season I would give them a 3-1 record for that, but this is a different situation.
Stanford is a loss, but this season also Minnesota and Navy might be too much.
I expect at least one loss from those two games.
So let's say 2-2 here.

They were lucky to avoid Boise State from the Mountain Division and play Utah State at home.
They also play most of the tough teams at home, but I doubt they will win all of those games.
Not this season.
They WILL annoy a lot of teams this season, close games, upsets and so on.
At the end I expect a mid-field position with a Bowl record.

UNLV Rebels
Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaaannnnnnnnnnnnnnd ... this will be the bottom team, for sure.
Bobby Hauck is in his 4th season with the Rebels and is 6-32.
I'm not expecting a leap of production here.
He is on a hot seat, and I'm expecting a bad season which will lead to his firing.
But sometimes I'm wrong with those predictions. ....

Non-Conference games are against: @Minnesota, Arizona, Central Michigan and Western Illinois (FCS).
Beside the FCS game, this might be all losses.
Minnesota and Arizona are probably way out of their league, Central Michigan at home might get close.

Inside the conference there are not many easy games.
New Mexico maybe, but that's an away game.
For the rest I see darkness and a coach in a ring of fire ....

They will probably fight for the bottom and lose.

So my TIP is:

Mountain Division:
Boise State Broncos
Utah State Aggies
Air Force Falcons
Colorado State Rams
New Mexico Lobos
Wyoming Cowboys

West Division:
Fresno State Bulldogs
San Diego State Aztecs
San Jose State Spartans
Nevada Wolf Pack
Hawai'i Warriors
UNLV Rebels

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