The Mountain West is going through come major changes. Utah and BYU are gone and TCU is to head to the Big East next season. The league welcomed Boise State this season with Fresno State, Nevada, and Hawaii coming on board next year. It is not hard to predict who will be number one and two this season but as we go further down the line it becomes a bit more difficult. A lot of mediocrity in this conference on the gridiron.
1. Boise State: Could be a BCS buster this year. The schedule is really no more difficult than it has been in years past although there are some teams that could give them a problem. The opener in Atlanta against the Bulldogs may or may not be dangerous. TCU will be a challenge and perhaps one or two others. They will have a target on their backs and everyone should be up for a chance to trip up the Broncos. They return just too many players from a very good squad to be in any real danger of not being at the very least top team in this league. I would look for a BCS bowl bid when all is said and done.
2. TCU: Probably won't be quite the team they were last year and likely won't be a BCS buster but still will field a very good squad none the less. They have a relatively light non conference schedule with Baylor and perhaps SMU being the only real challenges. They may lose a couple of in conference games also. They have a lot to replace at skill positions but will likely be a very good team when the smoke clears.
3. SDSU: A dark horse for the number two slot. Should TCU falter then the Aztecs may be right there. I am not sure that Rocky Long is the man to lead this squad but we will see. Their non conference schedule is light with only Michigan posing a real threat. It would be kind of interesting to see the Aztecs clean the clock of the Wolverines. They will certainly be up for that game. I look for a solid third place finish for this years Aztecs.
4. Air Force: A pretty good squad likely. May be better than most give them credit for. They do quite well, consistently, for one of the service schools. They do return quite a number of starters from last years squad and I would look for a bowl bid. They may get tripped up by either Navy or Notre Dame in non conference play, but should handle the other two IAA squads rather handily.
5. Wyoming: The talent level goes in this conference goes fast from here. Wyoming may be the best of the dregs but it is hard to tell at this point. They may be able to handle most of their non conference schedule with the exception of Nebraska. That is not a given though. They do travel to Bowling Green and Utah State. I look for a fifth place finish here.
6.UNLV: Perhaps a somewhat better team than is currently forecast by most major publications. Bobby Hauck is a heck of a coach and may be just what the doctor ordered in Sin City. It is not the easiest place to win.
7. Colorado State: This program has gone downhill since the Lubick era. They do return quite a few starters from last years' 3-9 squad. Whether that is good or bad remains to be seen.
8. New Mexico: Rounding out the bottom again is the Lobos. A bad coaching staff, a relatively tough non conference schedule, and lack of veteran players (which may be a good thing) will likely again see them scraping the bottom.
The changes in the college ranks affect the MWC as much as anyone. It would have been nice to see Utah and BYU stick around for this year to give Boise State (along with TCU and perhaps SDSU) some competition in conference. Such is the state of the game.