Who are the teams to beat in mountain west football this season electricity notes physics


With spring camps over, the college football season is a little more than 100 days away from kicking off. Last year’s Mountain West championship game pitted rivals Boise State and Fresno State and both appear to have strong shots of returning to the title game in 2018. Here is an early projection on where each MW team will finish this season, plus a preseason All-MW first team. West Division

1. Fresno State: QB Marcus McMaryion has a strong cast of playmakers back and they should form an electric offense. On defense, the Bulldogs lost a ton of production from its front, which wreaked havoc last year, but the back seven looks good. Fresno State was the MW’s big surprise in Jeff Tedford’s first season, improving its win total by nine games, and is the West’s team to beat entering 2018.

2. San Diego State: The Aztecs return their entire offensive line and have a strong winning culture after posting three straight 10-plus win seasons. SDSU loses 2,000-yard rusher Rashaad Penny and could struggle to score consistently without his big-play ability. For the first time in a long time, SDSU isn’t the West’s preseason favorite but will still compete for a division title.

1. Boise State: The Broncos’ offense is absolutely loaded and the defense could be the best among Group of 5 teams. That’s typically a good combination. With a non-conference game at Oklahoma State, a perfect 12-0 regular season might be out of reach, but Boise State is the heavy favorite to repeat as the Mountain Division champion and has the talent to earn the G5’s New Year’s Six Bowl spot.

2. Wyoming: The Cowboys’ defense was excellent last season under first-year coordinator Scottie Hazelton and should remain so this year. Wyoming did lose QB Josh Allen, the No. 7 pick in the NFL draft, although the offense was so-so with him last season, so it could actually improve in the post-Allen era. Coach Craig Bohl has built a winning program; Wyoming is Boise State’s top challenger in the Mountain.

3. Utah State: The Aggies return 18 starters, and this should be coach Matt Wells’ most talented team since 2014. To return to the top of the division for the first time since 2013, Utah State has to win more close games, which has been an issue of late. The Aggies have lost eight straight contests decided by a touchdown or less. Utah State will reach a bowl and could approach double-digit victories if it captures the close ones.

4. Colorado State: Given coach Mike Bobo’s recruiting classes, there’s plenty of talent in Fort Collins, albeit largely young talent. Transfer QB K.J. Carta-Samuels, from Washington, will likely step into the starting role and needs to help offset some of the Rams’ offensive losses. Colorado State‘s defense has been mediocre for a decade, which has kept it from reaching the next level. The Rams should have enough to reach a sixth straight bowl game despite some retooling.

5. Air Force: QB Arion Worthman runs the triple-option in expert fashion and is a true weapon, however the defense, which was gouged for big plays in 2017, carries question marks. It’s easy to underestimate Air Force, but the Falcons could face its first back-to-back non-bowl seasons since 2005-06 in the difficult Mountain Division. Worth noting: The last time Troy Calhoun’s team missed a bowl, it followed with a 10-win campaign.

6. New Mexico: QB Tevaka Tuioti, RB Tyrone Owens and five of the team’s top six receivers return, so the offense could be solid, but the offensive line is thin and New Mexico signed 15 junior-college players in its 2018 class to build depth. That’s typical not a good sign. Off-field issues (plus a down 2017 season) puts coach Bob Davie on the hottest seat in the conference. All-Mountain West picks