Thursday, August 22, 2013

Buy, Pass, Sell: Mountain West Edition

The Mountain West got great news for the season when Boise State and San Diego State pulled out of joining the ill fated Big East to remain in this conference. The conference also adds San Jose State and Utah State, both of which add more than respectable depth to the MWC, excluding the fact that both lost their head coaches after their final campaigns in the deceased WAC. The league will have 12 teams this fall and will play a championship game for the first time. Being that I hate conference championship games, I don't see that as a benefit, other than some extra TV money. With all of that in mind, if there is a separation of conferences to form a higher division, as has been discussed, the Mountain West should be included in that group. There is quality here.


Boise State: Some will argue about who they have played, but Boise wins. They just do. Chris Petersen is one of the finest coaches in the country, and his loyalty to this program has been something to be amazed by in the modern era. Joe Southwick is finding his way at QB, and RB DJ Harper is doing his best Doug Martin routine. The only question on offense is the line, which returns just two starters. I have to believe that Petersen is prepared for that. The defense is loaded up front, and teams couldn't pass very well at all against this unit. The opener against Washington on the road will be a major challenge, and if the Broncos get past that, they could have another amazing run.

Utah State: A lot of why I am buying in with the Aggies is because of the work that Gary Anderson had put into the program during his tenure. Anderson leaves, with Matt Wells taking over, but the pieces are still in place to challenge for a birth in the first MWC title game. Chuckie Keaton is one of the best dual threat QBs in the nation and every starting lineman returns. The defense gave up only 15.4 points per game last fall, buying into Anderson's persona. The competition level increases big time this fall, but the Aggies are up for it.

Fresno State: If anyone is in position to take down Boise State, it's the Bulldogs. Derek Carr is one of the best QBs in the country, and Davante Adams is one of the best receivers in the nation. Robbie Rouse is gone at RB, but there is talent around to step up. The secondary is as solid as it gets, and they benefit from a very talented defensive line. Fresno State could be a team on the verge of an impressive run.


Air Force: The Falcons sank late last season, and finished at 6-7. Troy Calhoun was upset about the finish, and he should be. I believe that he will have some pressure on him this season, as the Falcons have been flirting with mediocrity the last few seasons. The schedule is difficult, and there are so many new faces, that I can't see buying in on the Falcons this fall. I am not ready to sell yet either. With games against Boise State and Utah State in September, I am guessing that I will be selling at the end of the first month.

San Diego State: The Aztecs will try to open up the offense by bringing in Bob Toledo to help this unit evolve. Adam Dingwell still makes too many mistakes at QB, but Toledo should fix that. If he can do so, SDSU may be a buy at the end of September. The scheduke is workable for 8 wins, but some items must fall into place.

San Jose State: The Spartansmade huge strides under the leadership of the super imaginative Mike McIntyre as head coach. McIntyre moved on to Colorado after winning 11 games last fall, but enter Ron Caragher arrives from a very successful run at San Diego, which is the school that provided Jim Harbaugh to Stanford. This may have been a brilliant hire, but the schedule is brutal in September with games against Stanford, Minnesota, and Utah State all coming after an opener against improving Sacramento State. The rough September has me passing for now.


Wyoming: The Cowboys are sliding to the bottom of an ever improving MWC. They dropped from 8 wins in 2011 to 4 in 2012, and Christensen finds himself firmly on the hot seat. He certainly has a great QB in Brett Smith, but the offense could be better. The defense applies about as much pressure as a girl scout troupe, so that will be the undoing of this team. The Cowboys will not have the talent to compete with the upper half of the conference. Period.

Colorado State: The Rams have a disaster of a defense, and they are in just year two of Jim McElwain's tenure. They have too much work to do to buy in just yet. I am selling for at least one more year.

New Mexico: The Lobos made major strides by winning 4 games last season (they had won 3 the previous 3 years). There is still work to be done, so I am selling for now, but Bob Davie is getting the job done so far. I may be looking at the Lobos as a stock to buy into next year.

Nevada: Brian Polian takes over, and has some rebuilding to do. The Wolfpack opens against UCLA and is a 20 point dog heading in, and a trip to Florida State follows two weeks later. This team could be a beat up mess when October starts. Selling for now.

UNLV: Bobby Hauck's Rebels have not won a road game during his tenure, and it's win or get out this season. I don't see where the improvement comes from, but there is a talented piece in RB Tim Cornett.

Hawaii: Norm Chow was a mistake hire. The Rainbow Warriors are in for another long year, and could be 0-5 heading into a contest against UNLV on October 12th. They open with USC and Oregon State...brutal.

Coming up next...Buy, Pass, Sell: Pac-12 Edition

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