Predicting the winner of this conference is easy. The Blue Field Broncs are the team to beat and it is very very difficult for a WAC team accomplish this feat. It is difficult for a top tier BCS team to do so also. The 2nd tier is a little more difficult to figure with some pretty good teams in the mix. This group would be fairly to very competitive in CUSA. The last tier teams are on the same level as perhaps the Sun Belt and perhaps one or two would not even be real competitive in a good IAA league. This phenomena gives the conference a black eye and other than Boise State and perhaps Fresno State and Hawaii (in good years) it is not considered worth following. Some football "purists" will insist that even Boise State does not deserve a shot at the BCS "National Championship" simply because of league affiliation. That argument disregards the fact that the Broncs in particular tend to clean the clock of top tier BCS squads and the Bulldogs tend to keep such games very very close. That being said let us move on to the predictions.
1. Boise State: This squad should again win the WAC hands down and indeed run the table. It would be an anomaly if one of the their WAC opponents sneak up on them. For the Broncos to have a shot at the "National Championship" game or indeed any other BCS Bowl they will need to win all of their games, both conference and non-conference. The only team that seems like they may be able to spoil this run are the Hokies of VA. Tech.
2. Fresno State: The second tier as noted earlier is much harder to predict. Pat Hill has the experience and this season the non conference schedule is a bit lighter than in years past. They do meet Ole Miss and Cincinnati, but should have a decent shot at knocking off at least one of them. Pick the Bulldogs for the second spot and a decent post season bowl.
3. Nevada: Some publications pick the Wolfpack of being the only squad with a decent shot of taking down the Broncs. I don't think so. I will pick Nevada to finish in the third slot with a shot at a decent bowl game. Their non conference schedule is fairly tough with a trip to BYU and hosting the Golden Bears of CA. The remaining non conference schedule is manageable.
4. Idaho: Idaho for the fourth spot? Yes. The Vandals had a very surprising season last year and I think that coach Akey will field a competitive team, They do have a sure loss at Nebraska early in the season and a tough game with Western Michigan but the rest of the non conference schedule is manageable. They have a top notch QB in Nathan Enderle and may well again qualify for a bowl game.
5. Louisiana Tech: A new coach with a new system. Coach Dykes will attempt to move his squad into the top tier of the WAC in what may (or may not be) one of the last seasons in this conference. It is pretty tough to win consistently at Tech but they may find a way to go bowling this year.
6. Hawaii: If June Jones was still here I would probably put these guys in the number two or three spot in the conference. Jones has gone onto SMU, where he will be successful, and the Warrior program has suffered since his departure. The Warriors may surprise me and move up in the standings but it is hard to see how at this point. The good news is that their non conference schedule is manageable and their opener with USC will tell a lot. If they stay competitive in this game then they may well get a huge confidence boost which might be enough to propel them to a bowl game.
7.. Utah State: The Aggies will not be able to stay in the top tier of teams. They appear to have some talent, but will probably have a tough time winning any of their non conference games. The one bright spot appears to be against IAA Idaho State but a victory here is not a given.
8.. San Jose State: Mike MacIntyre takes over the helm at this hard luck football school. I am really surprised that they have not dropped the program but they still are out there trying every week. They definitely have some "payday" sure loss games in their non conference schedule that will result in losses. They will not be able to compete with Bama, Wisconsin and Utah. It is not a given that they will be victorious over their two IAA opponents also. They may be so beat up that by the time they get to the WAC schedule, they may not have much left in the tank.
9. New Mexico State: This group of Aggies appear to not have the firepower to compete successfully in the WAC. It is hard to win here to be sure but they may be able to pull out two or three WAC victories. The non conference schedule is not horribly difficult and they may possibly surprise someone. Their best chance may be against UTEP or the rivalry game with the Lobos.
This conference appears to be in transition with Boise State, Fresno and Nevada making the move to the MWC. There is talk of Louisiana Tech looking around for a new home also. To survive in D1 they may need to raid the IAA ranks or perhaps even consider moving down a notch into IAA. Time will tell.