MWC Mountain Division- Finish
1. Colorado State Rams
Here’s the skinny on the Colorado State Rams. Their offense is looking fairly stellar, but their defense is worrisome. That can change and, overall, it should. That is at least as far as the D is concerned. The Rams need to improve their secondary. Their LB and D-line units look to be in good shape. Although top tackler Kevin Davis, who terrorized QBs, is gone, they do return nine of their 11 top bring down artists. Corner Robert Awunganyi is key in the secondary. On offense, the team returns its top passer, receiver, and rusher. All three are seniors. QB Nick Stevens (64.2 COMP%, 19 TDs, 5 INTs) is a solid field general, while WR Michael Gallup (76 REC, 16.7 YPC, 14 TDs) is, as his last name suggests, fast and determined. Dalyn Dawkins leads a sound group of rushers that includes junior Izzy Matthews (14 TDs).
2. Boise State Broncos
3. Wyoming Cowboys
The Cowboys have in Josh Allen (56.0 COMP%, 3,203 YDs, 26 TDs, 15 INTs) the top NFL first-round QB prospect running the offense, but they must find a way to replace the output of running back Brian Hill who gained 1,800-plus yards last season and scored 22 times. The Cowboys also lost their three top receivers, which certainly can be problematic. The defense, which gave up 34.1 PPG in 2016, has holes in the secondary. The frontline and linebackers are good. Allen should be exciting to watch, and his arm should win some games for this team.
4. Utah State Aggies
Last season, the Aggies went 1-7 in the conference and 3-9 overall. There should be some improvement in 2017. A lot hinges on their defense, which was very effective versus the pass last season. Only five starters return on that side of the ball, and their D-line is questionable. If they can come through, this team will possess the potential to upset a few teams. On offense, senior QB Kent Meyers is a dual threat on an offense that was ranked 11th in the MWC and 108th nationally. He has some fine pass catchers, but the O-line is weak.
5. Air Force Falcons
6. New Mexico Lobos
The Lobos have a stellar ground attack and a top-notch O-line. Their air game is nothing to write home about. Still, we expect them to score points and to be that pesky team that can take anyone down in this division. But their depleted defense, which returns three starters and just one of the team’s top nine tacklers, is a huge question mark. The Lobos may put 35-plus points up on average on the scoreboard as they did last season, but the defense will also give up, at the very least, an equal amount.
MWC West Division- Finish
1. San Diego State Aztecs
The Aztecs led the MWC in defense, allowing just 20.2 PPG (17th Nationally). Despite some major losses, they are loaded again this season, and should be able to control opponent offenses. They bring the top-ranked D-line and linebacking unit to the field. Their offense will not be as strong as their defense. There are major questions on the line and in the receiving corps. Although top running back Donnel Pumphrey is gone, they certainly have a suitable replacement in senior Rashaad Penny (1,018 YDs, 11 TDs, 7.5 AVG). There’s depth at running back too. Junior QB Christine Chapman (61.0 COM%, 1,994 YDs, 20 TDs, 6 INTs) has an accurate arm. The defense will perform exceptionally well giving the offense and the rush attack the time and possessions it needs to win games.
2. Nevada Wolf Pack
3. Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors
The Rainbow Warriors, which was ranked last in the MWC on defense, must limit opponent scoring. Last season, they allowed 37.3 PPG and the 113th nationally ranked D could not stop the run. Their LB unit is solid, but the rest of the defense is a big question mark. The Hawai’I offense is good, and they certainly offer this team bowl potential once again. Last season, for the first time since 2010, they made it to a bowl game, beating Middle Tennessee 52-35 in the Hawai’i Bowl. We think sophomore QB Dru Brown (62.4 COMP%, 2,488 YDs, 19 TDs, 7 INTs) and second-year coach Nick Rolovich will repeat that feat again.
4. Fresno State Bulldogs
Last season the Fresno State Bulldogs went 1-11 overall and 0-8 in the MW. This season, they welcome new head coach Jeff Tedford (82-57 Career, 5-3 Bowls), formerly of California. Tedford should make a difference. He sees 10 starters return on offense, including the starting QB, top running back, and two most productive receivers. Hopefully, he can start to shape an offense that can score more than 18 PPG. At the same time, he’ll need to ensure his defense can limit teams to under last year’s average of 30.9 PPG. Tedford could create a real spoiler team this season. These guys will be unpredictable and dangerous.
5. UNLV Rebels
6. San Jose State Spartans
The quarterback situation is dicey. Will junior college transfer Michael Carrillo come through or can sophomore Josh Love step up? There’s also freshman Montel Aaron waiting in the wings. There are some decent receivers, but both the O-line and ground attack are below average. The Spartan defense was solid against the pass last season, and should remain the same in 2017. Despite that fact, opponents will still average better than 30 PPG against this D.
2017 MWC CFB Preview
Colorado State Rams: Las Vegas Bowl
- Boise State Broncos: Cactus Bowl
- San Diego State Aztecs: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl
- Wyoming Cowboys: New Mexico Bowl
- Nevada Wolf Pack: Arizona Bowl
- Hawai’i Rainbow Warriors: Hawai’I Bowl
2017 MWC CFB Preview
Projected Best Bets
Please remember that our 2017 MWC CFB Preview Best Bets are projections. A lot can occur during the college football season to change how we see the games listed below. Always check the latest stats, trends, and odds before placing your bets.
- Aug 26: Hawai’i @Massachusetts- Hawai’i by no more than -6.0
- Sep 2: Fresno State @Incarnate Word- Fresno State by no more than -13.5
- Sep 9: Wyoming @Gardner-Webb- Wyoming by no more than -20.5
- Sep 16: Air Force @Michigan- Air Force by at least +37.5
- Oct 20: Colorado State @New Mexico- Colorado State by no more than -18.5
- Oct 28: San Diego State @Hawai’i- San Diego State by no more than -21
- Nov 4: San Diego State @San Jose State- San Diego State by more than -27
- Nov 10: BYU @UNLV- UNLV by at least +31
- Nov 18: Air Force @Boise State- Boise State by no more than -13.5
- Nov 25: Nevada @UNLV- Nevada by no more than -20.5