My final installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks.
1. No. 22 Boise State (10-2 overall, 7-1 MW): Could have easily been at the top the last few weeks as it finished the regular season with seven straight wins. The best offense in the conference and arguably the most physical defense. Should win its first MW championship after Saturday’s title game at home versus Fresno State. This week: vs. Fresno State (MW Championship Game), 8 p.m. MT Saturday (CBS). At home on the blue turf on prime time TV with a New Year’s bowl game on the line. Enough said. Boise State 45, Fresno State 20.
2. Colorado State (10-2, 6-2): A loss at Air Force last week bumped the Rams down, and now must find a new coach as Jim McElwain took the Florida job. Still a great season for CSU, but how will it respond moving forward?
3. Air Force (9-3, 5-3): The only team in the conference to beat both Boise State and Colorado State this season. The transformation from 2-10 last year has been amazing, and most of the talent returns next season.
4. Utah State (9-4, 6-2): Even though the Aggies beat Air Force this season, they drop a spot based on the 50-19 pounding they took at Boise State last week. Still, a great season and one of the most solid programs in the MW. Now, will Utah State keep its coach?
5. San Diego State (7-5, 5-3): I know Fresno State won the West Division and beat San Diego State in the regular season, but the Aztecs were the better overall team and the most consistent (if there was such a thing in that division).
6. Fresno State (6-6, 5-3): Credit the Bulldogs for winning three straight after a 45-17 home loss to Wyoming to win the West Division and a return trip to the MW Championship Game. Still, hard to have a strong buy-in with this squad based on its inconsistencies and its defense.
7. Nevada (7-5, 4-4): Lost two of its last three games after having the inside track to winning the West Division. Many MW teams would take being 7-5 and 4-4, but the way the season went has to be considered a disappointment for the folks in Reno.
8. Hawaii (4-9, 3-5): Had a chance to win the West Division last week. Three of its four wins were in the conference. Progress and improvement was made. Should be better next season.
9. New Mexico (4-8, 2-6): Was competitive in all but two games this season. Great run offense, poor passing game and overall defense, but coach Bob Davie is making slow improvements there.
10. Wyoming (4-8, 2-6): A tough, injury-riddled year for first-year coach Craig Bohl. Some good wins (Air Force, Fresno State) along with some tough losses (Hawaii, San Jose State, New Mexico) mixed in.
11. San Jose State (3-9, 2-6): Ended the season losing six straight games. Team often looked better than its record, and talent returns. Coach Ron Caragher’s seat will be warm entering next season.
12. UNLV (2-11, 1-7): Also lost six straight to end the season, and may turn to a high school coach to guide the program.
Last week’s picks: 4-1 (missed Colorado State at Air Force)
For the season: 80-19