Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 8

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 8 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (5-1 overall, 1-1 MW): The Rams keep rolling. They have the league’s longest winning streak at four, and are coming off a nice road win at Nevada last week. Colorado State leads the MW in scoring (33.5 ppg) and is second in scoring defense (22.8 ppg). Right now, the most complete team in the conference. This week: vs. Utah State, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). The two best teams — at least this week — in the MW face off. Going with the home team in one of the better games this season. Colorado State 33, Utah State 28.

2. Utah State (4-2, 1-0): The Aggies seem to have their swagger back after the season-ending knee injury to senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton. Sophomore Darell Garretson is making fans forget about Keeton, and sophomore Nick Vigil continues to play both linebacker and running back — and is good at both. This week: at Colorado State, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). The Aggies are more than capable of winning, but I’m going with the hot team at home. Colorado State 33, Utah State 28.

3. Boise State (4-2, 2-1): The Broncos move up one spot despite being off last week. There isn’t much of a gap between the top four teams in this week’s power rankings. The team will have to do without senior wide receiver Matt Miller (ankle) the rest of the season, which is a big blow. This week: vs. Fresno State, 6 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN). This looked like one of the games of the year before the season started, but now it’s just one the Broncos win fairly easily. Boise State 38, Fresno State 21.

4. Air Force (4-2, 1-2): The loss at Utah State wasn’t a big surprise last week, but the 34-16 margin was a bit of an eye-opener. Still couldn’t drop the Falcons too far this week based on the inconsistent play of the teams in the West Division. This week: vs. New Mexico, 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday (ROOT). Air Force should rebound in a big way in a game where both teams want to run the ball. Air Force 40, New Mexico 23.

5. San Diego State (3-3, 2-1): The Aztecs allow a MW-low 20.2 points per game, and have the nation’s ninth-leading rusher in sophomore Donnel Pumphrey (134.5 ypg). If the team can stabilize its quarterback situation, look out. This week: vs. Hawaii, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). Look for the Aztecs to notch another win thanks to their defense and Pumphrey. San Diego State 27, Hawaii 13.

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Mountain West football power rankings and picks – Week 1

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his first weekly installment of his Mountain West football power rankings and picks for the Week 1 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Utah State: The defending Mountain Division champs get senior quarterback Chuckie Keeton back from a knee injury, and it may be a stretch to put the Aggies this high not knowing how good Keeton will be. But there is a proven backup behind him and a lot of good players on defense. This week: at Tennessee, 5 p.m. MT, Sunday (SEC Network). Of all the MW teams playing big-time programs this week, Utah State may have the best chance to win. But I am still going with the Vols in a close one. Tennessee 27, Utah State 24.

2. Fresno State: Not only do the Bulldogs have to replace quarterback Derek Carr, but they also lost some really good receivers. Still, there are players in the pipeline that can fill the void. This team will still be good. This week: at USC 5:30 p.m. MT, Saturday (FOX). Even with Carr and Co., Fresno State was blown out by USC in last year’s Las Vegas Bowl. USC has a new coach and has a mess on its hands with the Josh Shaw saga, but it still has enough to win. USC 31, Fresno State 20.

3. Boise State: The Bryan Harsin era begins, and one has to wonder if the Broncos will remain among the MW’s powers. They will, thanks to Harsin’s new wrinkles and what was built by former coach Chris Petersen. There are too many good players on that roster not to. This week: vs. Ole Miss, 6 p.m. MT Thursday (ESPN). The Broncos will go to Atlanta and pick up the league’s best win over a nonconference foe. Boise State 30, Ole Miss 23.

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UW-Utah State Q&A

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi did a question-and-answer session with Kyle Goon, who covers Utah State football for The Salt Lake Tribune about Saturday’s regular-season finale with the University of Wyoming Logan, Utah.

Follow on Twitter: @kylegoon

Utah State has far and away the best defense in the Mountain West, and one of the better defenses in the nation. What makes this unit so good and when teams have been successful against this group what have they done?

The biggest thing they can do is stop the run. Utah State doesn’t have all-stars up front, but it has a front line that can make tackles themselves or at least eat up blockers, and it has a fast, instinctive linebacking corps that rarely misses tackles. Safety Maurice Alexander is like another linebacker on the field, the Aggies have a scheme aimed at slowing down the run and making teams one dimensional. Utah State has allowed only six runs of 20 yards or more, and it’s rare to see someone break out big against them. Recently, the Aggies have been pretty adept at turnovers: They’ve intercepted 13 passes in their last seven games.

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UW-Utah State blog swap

I sent Utah State beat writer Wade Denniston of the Logan Herald Journal five questions about Saturday’s Wyoming-Utah State game. Follow him on Twitter: @wdbowler

1. What do you think the emotional state of Utah State is after three tough losses in its first four games?

One would think the Aggies would be down on themselves and what not, but that is not the case. Coach (Gary) Andersen and his staff have done a great job getting them prepared to play week in and week out. The Aggies believe they are on the cusp of turning this thing around and know they are close. This is what senior defensive end Levi Koskan told me this week: “We’re one play away. It’s not like we’re getting unfocused, it’s not like we’re not playing with effort and discipline. We’re just one play away, so what we’ve got to do to get over the hump is keep doing what we’re doing — keep our attitude, keep believing, don’t get pessimistic, don’t despair. It will turn our way. I absolutely believe it. I still absolutely believe 100 percent that we’re going to win the WAC championship and that we’re going to a bowl game and we’re going to win that bowl game. There’s no reason not to believe that we can’t get that accomplished.”

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Media Monday news and notes

There were no new changes on the depth chart Monday for Wyoming, but it doesn’t mean they still aren’t coming.

“We’re still competing in practice,” coach Dave Christensen said. “We’ve given a lot of players opportunities in practice. There are no significant changes yet, but there’s certainly ongoing competition at all positions. That will continue through Thursday. We’re not going to make any decisions as long as the competition is good right now.”

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