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Conference Preview: Mountain West

crystalballIn an effort to address all the teams and conferences that make the fall so exciting, OTP’s All-Star Editorial staff is putting on their prognosticatin’ hats and taking a stab at each of the conferences and all of the teams in FBS. Alan and Edge are giving you the conference’s order of finish, the records, the superlatives for offense and defense, and the biggest surprise for each conference. At the conclusion of our series, we’ll have the Bowl Projections for all 34 Bowl Games.

OTP Conference Preview: The Mountain West

mountain west logoThe Mountain West Conference is the relative new kid on the block of major college athletics. They are the youngest conference, having been formed in 1999, but they are far from irrelevant or deserving of national attention or props.

Since their inception, the Mountain West has had a BCS representative twice… both times the Utah Utes, who won both appearances. Year in and year out, the Mountain West is the perennial best of the non automatic qualifying conferences, and last year had two teams in the final Top 10, tying them for most teams.

In the offseason, the Mountain West made a plea to the United States Congress that they should be included in the Bowl Championship Series, and this year is another chance for the conference as a whole to show they belong at the title table, a chance that BYU can certainly demand in week 1 versus national title contender Oklahoma.

The Mountain West doesn’t get the top billing in the college football universe, as the media and fanbases often overlook them in favor of the glitz and presitge of the SEC, Pac 10, or Big 12, but the Mountain West is just as good. The Mountain West’s best may not be world beaters in those leagues, but they certainly would give 80% of the teams in those leagues all they could handle. The MWC is a conference made up of athletes and coaches that are talented, capable, and just looking for their break out year and their next BCS invite.

Of special note to this blog, the Mountain West also sees a new coach at one of its members, as former Ball Stater Brady Hoke now tries to rebuild San Diego State. Good luck, Coach.

Last 5 Conference Champions:
2008: Utah
2007: BYU
2006: BYU
2005: TCU
2004: Utah

Bowl Tie Ins:
The Mountain West Conference has five bowl tie-ins:
#1– The Maaco Las Vegas Bowl receives the first choice of Mountain West teams, unless that team is selected by the BCS.
#2– The Poinsettia Bowl receives the second choice of Mountain West teams.
#3-4– The Armed Forces Bowl and the New Mexico Bowl have the third and fourth picks, but in no particular order.
#5– The Humanitarian Bowl receives the fifth choice of Mountain West teams.

Alan’s Mountain West Predictions
Order of Finish:
BYU 11-1 (8-0)
Utah 10-2 (7-1)
TCU 10-2 (6-2)
UNLV 7-5 (5-3)
Air Force 6-6 (4-4)
Colorado St. 4-8 (3-5)
San Diego St. 5-7 (2-6)
Wyoming 2-10 (1-7)
New Mexico 2-10 (1-7)

League Champion: BYU

League MVP: Max Hall, BYU
Offensive MVP: Harvey Unga, BYU
Defensive MVP: Jerry Hughes, TCU

Biggest Surprise This Season: Two fold… BYU’s only loss comes in their season opener against Oklahoma, and the Cougars go undefeated the rest of the way, but it will not be enough to warrant a BCS trip for BYU. Second, as the HokeManBeast begins to get acclimated to life in San Diego, the homeless population mysteriously drops 34% by week 3.

Edge’s Mountain West Predictions
Order of Finish:

BYU 10-2 (8-0)
Utah 10-2 (7-1)
TCU 10-2 (6-2)
UNLV 6-6 (4-4)
Air Force 6-6 (4-4)
Colorado State 5-7 (4-4)
New Mexico 3-9 (2-6)
San Diego State 3-9 (1-7)
Wyoming 2-10 (1-7)

League Champion: BYU

League MVP: Max Hall, BYU
Offensive MVP: Matt Asiata, Utah
Defensive MVP: Jerry Hughes, TCU

Biggest Surprise This Season: Utah remains perfect until Oregon in week 3, but also falls to BYU in week 13. So long, hopes for a BCS berth.

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6 Responses

  1. I think that the picks are obvious and conservative. One thing no one is picking is UNM. I am telling you now that UNM will have a say in who rules the MWC. Rocky Long taking his D to SDSU is not going to affect UNM. In fact, it could be the catalyst to put UNM in a bowl situation. UNM only lacked a credible offense in the 11 years under Rocky. Now enter Mike Lokcsley who is an offensive mastermind. He hired Tee Martin (yea, that Tee of the Tennessee Volunteers) to coach the QB’s. He hired former LSU D cooridinator Doug Mallory to keep the D hot. In my opinion, the only reason UNM was not picked in the top 4 (which is the lowest finbish in the Rocky Long era) is coaching change. Ask Georiga Tech if a first year coach can win!

  2. Picking Air Force fifth is an indication that beyond the top three in the MWC you have no clue. Air Force finished second two years ago and fourth last year. Last year they were very young and have many of their capable starters returning, including the MWC Freshman player of the year in Tim Jefferson. Air Force will be a big factor in the MWC this year and in the future as its young talent matures.

  3. I am true blue BYU, but TCU will win the conference. BYU could have a chance, they have talent, but have too many injuries at key positions.

  4. BYU is almost a no brainer. I know the media that covers the conf picked TCU, but their batting average is well below the Mendoza line. Also, BYU returning senior QBs win conference titles. And of course they get TCU, AFA, and Utah at home.

    Picking Utah to finish 2nd is a very big miss. There is no way they will win at TCU. Their QB situation is less than desireable, and their best player on D is struggling with back issues. They will be battling with AFA for third place this year.

    IMO, TCU will go 11-1 with their sole loss coming to BYU. Gary Patterson is as good a coach as most of those in the BCS conf.

    AFA will be right there fighting for third place. I will be absolutely floored if they do any worse than 8-4.

    UNLV just might be bowl elgible this year. They have everything in place to get to 6 wins. Omar Clayton might be one of the most unheralded QBs in college football.

    Colorado St lost a lot from last years team. If they are down this year, it won’t be for long.

    UNM, is a real wild card. They only have 9 returning starters. People forget about Porterie. The big question is, how good can Porterie be this year?

    SDSU has a phenomenal coaching staff in place. I am expecting big things in the future. I would not be surprised if they give UCLA all they can handle in their opener. They could even pull out a W if they win the TO battle. Unfortunately that staff needs a couple years to get the right pieces in place.

    Wyo should be very solid on D. They return 8 starters and typically play very good D. Their problems all lie on the other side of the ball. WIll the they be able to score with any consistency this year?

    BTW, there are 3 new Head Coaches in the MWC this year; Mike Locksley at UNM, Dave Christensen at Wyoming, and Hoke which you already mentioned.

  5. Gene,

    BYU has a brand new OL, and their only returning starter broke his hand. Plus another starter is out for a year with a shoulder injury and one of the backups is out for the year as well. It won’t matter how good Max Hall is if Utah, OU and TCU are camped out in his backfield. BYU will be lucky to finish 3rd.

  6. I’m not going to argue with these predictions. 😉

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