WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi rates all 10 Mountain West football and why.
1. Fresno State (8-3 overall, 6-1 MW): The Bulldogs remain at the top and end the regular season with a home game with Air Force Saturday. As stated before, this is the most complete team on both sides of the ball in the conference this season — and the most athletic from top to bottom.
2. San Diego State (8-3, 6-1): Has the longest winning streak in the MW at six, and like Fresno State was off last week. After a 2-3 start the biggest turnaround for the Aztecs has been the play of both their offensive and defensive lines. San Diego State has not won a conference title since 1998, when it won the Pacific Division title in the WAC.
3. Boise State (8-3, 6-1): The Broncos are still ranked in most polls, but I can’t put them ahead of San Diego State based on their home loss to the Aztecs a few weeks ago. Boise State has allowed a league-low 158 points. The next lowest is 252 by Fresno State. Both of its losses were by a combined six points. This is still a very good team, despite where it is in these rankings.
4. Nevada (7-4, 4-3): The Wolf Pack have been tough to gauge at times as it is 2-3 at home and 5-1 on the road. The offense is great and the defense is not-so-great. The defense is keeping Nevada from breaking into the top three, but anyone in the country would take its offense.
5. Air Force (6-5, 5-2): Air Force beat Nevada 48-31 last month but the Falcons are barely below the Wolf Pack. Another tough team to read at times. Many consider this a down year for the Falcons, but it will go to a Bowl game for the sixth straight year no matter if it wins or loses at Fresno State Saturday.
6. Wyoming (4-7, 3-4): The Cowboys defeated all the teams below them in the standings other than Hawaii (didn’t play them). Wyoming has a conference-low 12 turnovers this season and sophomore quarterback Brett Smith is red-hot. If the defense was better and Smith stayed healthy, the Cowboys would be ranked higher.
7. Colorado State (3-8, 2-5): One has to wonder if the Rams had not have to use three different starting quarterbacks due to injury if they would have had a better season. A home win over New Mexico Saturday would be a nice way to end Jim McElwain’s first season as coach, and perhaps give the team some momentum heading into next season.
8. UNLV (2-10, 2-5): The Rebels are better despite their record, and third-year coach Bobby Hauck will be back for a fourth despite a 6-31 record. A loss Saturday at woeful Hawaii would be a setback in that progress, but I don’t see that happening.
9. New Mexico (4-8, 1-6): Once the darlings of the league earlier this season, the lack of depth and talent caught up to the Lobos as they’ve lost five straight. But, this could be a dangerous team in the future once first-year coach Bob Davie gets some more players.
10. Hawaii (1-9, 0-7): At least there’s the beach and ocean, right?