Chris Petersen is now the head coach at Washington, meaning that Boise State becomes the most interesting team in the Mountain West Conference.
Boise State has dominated the Mountain West for years. It’s one of the premier football programs in the nation. Without Petersen, will the Broncos continue that domination or will a different team from the competitive Mountain West step it up?
Mountain West Conference Preview
Fresno State Bulldogs – Even though they lost QB David Carr, the Bulldogs return 8 starters on defense. That could help them win the West Division.
Hawaii Warriors – The defense allowed close to 40 points on average per game in 2013. Unless the D improves mightily, Hawaii could be a cellar dweller.
Nevada Wolf Pack – Nevada’s defense will have to improve for it to contend. The unit allowed close to 500 yards per game last season.
San Diego State Aztecs – The road schedule is awfully tough. 8 wins, like what the Aztecs did in 2013, might be asking a lot.
San Jose State Spartans – Veteran defensive coordinator Greg Robinson will have his hands full improving a San Jose State D that allowed 35 points per game in 2013
UNLV Rebels – The fact that UNLV is banned from post-season play means that they probably won’t show the needed fire to win more games than they lose in 2014.
Air Force Falcons – The Falcons’ defense is too dreadful for them to challenge in the Mountain West.
Boise State Broncos – Bryan Harsin, who used to coach the offense at Boise, returns after a stint as head coach at Arkansas State. The Broncos have the goods, with 12 returning starters, to win the Mountain West.
Colorado State Rams – The offense lost a key player in center Weston Richburg, but the Rams offense should be good with QB Garrett Grayson under center.
New Mexico Lobos – Like Air Force, New Mexico’s defense is just too awful for anybody to consider them as a challenger for the Mountain West title.
Utah State Aggies – Replacing four players on the offensive line might be Utah State’s downfall. The team will be decent, but effective offensive line changes take time.
Wyoming Cowboys – New coach Carig Bohl had tons of success as the coach of North Dakota State. Bohl might need a year before challenging for the Mountain West Championship, though.
Mountain West Conference Championship: Boise State vs. Fresno State
Returning 8 starters on defense for Fresno State is a big deal. Most of the teams in the Mountain West rely on high-scoring offenses. The defense adding anything to a team’s chances to win is huge. Fresno State has a more favorable road schedule than San Diego State and Nevada’s defense is absolutely terrible. The Bulldogs will win the West.
In the East, Boise State may have lost their coach, but Bryan Harsin was very effective as the head man at Arkansas State. More importantly, he knows the Boise State program. With 12 returning starters and Harsin’s experience at Boise, the Broncos should do enough to win the MWC West.
The winner between Boise State and Fresno State in the MWC Championship Game should come down to which team plays better defense. Fresno State’s 8 returning starters will be the difference. The Bulldogs should do just enough to squeak out a victory over Boise State.
Pick: Fresno State Bulldogs.