Final Mountain West football power rankings/picks

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).

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 14

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his final regular-season installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks.

1. Colorado State (10-1 overall, 6-1 MW): Tough to move the Rams (ranked No. 21 in both the AP and Coaches polls) down after winning nine straight games, including by 38 last week against New Mexico. Still, Colorado State needs to win this week and hope Boise State loses if it wants to play in the MW Championship Game. This week: at Air Force, 1:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBSSN). A tough game against a good team on the road. Rams have a lot on the line, and will play like it. Colorado State 27, Air Force 23.

2. Boise State (9-2, 6-1): The Broncos are the highest-ranked team among the non-power five conferences at No. 23. If they win their season-finale they will play in the MW Championship Game and has a good chance at New Year’s bowl game. Boise State has scored more points (440) than any MW team. This week: vs. Utah State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPN2). The Broncos have lost only four games at home in … well, forever. Too much on the line for that fifth loss to occur. Boise State 28, Utah State 20.

3. Utah State (9-3, 6-1): Winners of five straight and with the best scoring defenses in the conference (18.3 ppg). Matt Wells should get strong consideration for Coach of the Year in the MW having to use four different quarterbacks this season. This week: at Boise State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPN2). In a battle of the league’s best offense and best defense, the offense will have the edge at night on the blue turf. Boise State 28, Utah State 20.

4. Air Force (8-3, 4-3): Despite a 30-14 loss at San Diego State last week, the Falcons stay at No. 4. They remain one of the best stories in the league having gone 2-10 last season. This week: vs. Colorado State, 1:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBSNN). Air Force is 5-0 at home, but will drop a close game in its finale. Colorado State 27, Air Force 23.

5. San Diego State (6-5, 4-3): One of two teams in the West Division with a winning overall and conference record. The home win over Air Force moved the Aztecs up. San Diego State needs to win this week and have Fresno State lose to win the division. This week: vs. San Jose State, 1:30 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). The Aztecs will cruise in this one. San Diego State 33, San Jose State 10.

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 13

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 13 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (9-1 overall, 5-1 MW): Remains No. 1 coming off a bye week. Winners of eight straight and the only MW team ranked in the polls, yet needs a Boise State loss to win the Mountain Division (assuming the Rams win out). Senior quarterback Garrett Grayson was notified last week by the Heisman Trust that he is a candidate to win this year’s award. He’s good, but not sure he’s that good. This week: vs. New Mexico, 11:30 a.m. MT Saturday (ROOT). Rams will end their home season on a high note, but a big game at Air Force next week looms: Colorado State 45, New Mexico 22.

2. Boise State (8-2, 5-1): Still not far behind Colorado State in the rankings. The Broncos had to rally from first-half deficits in their last two games, but they lead the MW in scoring (37.7 ppg) and they find ways to win games. This week: at Wyoming, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPN2). Boise State is 8-0 all-time against Wyoming, and it will make it 9-0 in a game closer than some may think. Boise State 27, Wyoming 20.

3. Utah State (8-3, 5-1): Can still win the Mountain Division, but needs some help. The Aggies have allowed the fewest points in the MW this season (213), and just keep winning. This week: vs. San Jose State, 7:30 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN2). Perhaps the rest of the country will see why Utah State is one of the best stories in college football as they win their ninth game despite playing their fourth quarterback due to injuries. Utah State 30, San Jose State 14.

4. Air Force (8-2, 4-2): The fourth team from the Mountain Division with eight or more wins, and perhaps one of the more underrated teams in the country. A big test comes this week, but no matter what the Falcons do the rest of the season, the program has bounced back nicely after going 2-10 in 2013. This week: at San Diego State, 7:30 p.m. MT Friday (CBSSN). Should be a low-scoring game between two good defenses. Going with the home team, but not feeling overly confident with that. San Diego State 24, Air Force 21.

5. Nevada (6-4, 3-3): Leaders in the West Division and still the favorite to win that division despite an overtime loss at Air Force last week. Capable of beating any team in the league, but also capable of losing to them all. This week: vs. Fresno State, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU). The division title is on the line in this one. Going with the home team and senior quarterback Cody Fajardo. Nevada 38, Fresno State 31.

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 12

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 12 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (9-1 overall, 5-1 MW): Remains No. 1 again this week. Winners of eight straight and the only MW team ranked (23rd in the coaches poll, 25th AP). Despite its success, the Rams must win out and hope Boise State loses one of its final three games to claim the Mountain Division title. This week: Off.

2. Boise State (7-2, 5-1): A close second behind Colorado State, and is the only team to beat the Rams this season. You can make a case for the Broncos to be at the top. Leads the MW in scoring (37.7 ppg) and is second with 43 touchdowns scored. This week: vs. San Diego State, 8:15 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU). Boise State had trouble stopping New Mexico’s run game last week. It will be better this week. Boise St. 27, San Diego St. 16.

3. Utah State (7-3, 4-1): No matter who plays quarterback, the Aggies have speed on the edges and the league’s leading defense in scoring (19.2 ppg), rushing (96.1 ypg), turnover forced (27) and turnover margin (+13). This week: vs. New Mexico, 2 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNews). New Mexico may get some rushing yards as it is third in the nation running the ball, but not nearly enough as the Aggies will roll. Utah State 38, New Mexico 17.

4. Air Force (7-2, 3-2): Quietly putting together a solid season, and Troy Calhoun should be a candidate for Coach of the Year in the league. The defense is rock-solid, including top 10 against the run. This week: vs. Nevada, noon MT Saturday (ROOT). One of the best match-ups of the week. Can the Falcons’ defense slow down Nevada senior quarterback Cody Fajardo? It will enough to remain unbeaten at home. Air Force 24, Nevada 20.

5. Nevada (6-3, 3-2): The favorite to win the West Division, and the only team in that division with a winning road record (3-1). This week: at Air Force, noon MT Saturday (ROOT). Should be a good game, but I got to go with the home team as the West Division race will continue to be a jumbled mess. Air Force 24, Nevada 20.

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 11

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 11 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (8-1 overall, 4-1 MW): Got to stick with the Rams as they won their league-leading seventh straight game last week at San Jose State. However, senior quarterback Garrett Grayson and sophomore receiver Rashad Higgins got banged up. This week: vs. Hawaii, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNU). The Rams should keep rolling, but keeping Grayson healthy has to be a concern moving forward. Colorado State 33, Hawaii 20.

2. Boise State (6-2, 3-1): One of four bowl eligible teams in the conference, and maybe the best team right now based on its win over Colorado State in Week 2. Since his benching in a loss at Air Force, senior quarterback Grant Hedrick has been on fire. He’s completing 72.5 percent of his passes this season. This week: at New Mexico, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). The Broncos should roll, but the Lobos will put up a fight. Boise State 42, New Mexico 21.

3. Utah State (6-3, 3-1): The Aggies continue to be one of the more amazing stories in of college football. On their fourth different starting quarterback due to injuries, but still winning games. Heck of a program there in Logan, and a heck of a defense that is tops in the MW in rushing defense (90 ypg), turnovers forced (25) and sacks (37). This week: at Wyoming, 6 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN2). Even though the Aggies play on a short week after playing at Hawaii, it’s hard not to pick them. Utah State 24, Wyoming 13.

4. Air Force (6-2, 2-2): Won the Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy last week against Army. A great comeback story after winning only two games last year. One of the better defenses the Falcons have had in a while. They’ve allowed 96 points in four conference games. This week: at UNLV, 2 p.m. MT Saturday (MW Network — online). Air Force can’t afford a letdown, but it usually handles these games well. Air Force 28, UNLV 20.

5. Nevada (6-3, 3-2): The Wolf Pack’s home win over San Diego State was its biggest of the season — conference-wise — and puts it atop the West Division. Nevada also is the only bowl-eligible team in that division right now, and only one with a winning streak (three). This week: Off.

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 10

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 10 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (7-1 overall, 3-1 MW): Still atop the rankings after the Rams won their league-leading sixth straight game last week against Wyoming. However, the gap is narrowing. Still, Colorado State is playing some of the best football in the conference right now. Good luck trying to defend that passing game. This week: at San Jose State, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). This game pits the best pass defense in the MW in San Jose State (99.7 ypg) against the league’s best passing offense in Colorado State (353.5 ypg). Tricky game for the Rams, but they find a way. Colorado State 38, San Jose St. 31.

2. Boise State (6-2, 3-1): The Broncos beat Colorado State earlier this season so they control their own destiny to win the league’s Mountain Division. Boise State seems to be hitting its stride now, and it might not be long until it is atop the rankings. This week: Off.

3. San Diego State (4-3, 3-1): After a bye week, the Aztecs may get get a couple of key players back on offense and defense. Along with Boise State, San Diego State is the most physical team in the MW. The Aztecs lead the league and are 12th nationally in scoring defense (18.7 ppg). This week: at Nevada, 8:30 p.m. MT Saturday (CBSSN). A tough road game, but that defense and running back Donnel Pumphrey should be enough for a close win. San Diego State 24, Nevada 20.

4. Utah State (5-3, 2-1): Now on its fourth quarterback due to injuries, and some other key guys banged up. The Aggies will be hard-pressed to stay this high for long. But they’ve shown a toughness so far that most teams could never do after losing so many key players. Got to admire that. This week: at Hawaii, 9 p.m. MT Saturday (MW Network — online). It won’t be pretty, but the Aggies find a way to win. Utah State 17, Hawaii 12.

5. Air Force (5-2, 2-2): This is the biggest week for the Falcons as a win at Army Saturday will give them their first Commander-in-Chief’s Trophy since 2011. Air Force is one of the better stories in the conference after winning just two games last season. This week: at Army, 9:30 a.m. MT Saturday (CBS). Both are among the nation’s top rushing teams, but Air Force has the edge on defense. Air Force 31, Army 26.

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Mountain West football power rankings/picks – Week 9

WyoSports senior editor Robert Gagliardi with his weekly installment of the Mountain West football power rankings and picks for Week 9 of the college football season. Look for this every week during the football season, and as always, your feedback is welcome.

1. Colorado State (6-1 overall, 2-1 MW): The Rams remain at the top having won five in a row. They are second in the MW in scoring offense (31 ppg) and scoring defense (21.4 ppg). Once again, the most complete team in the league right now. This week: vs. Wyoming, 5 p.m. MT Saturday (ROOT). The Rams should keep rolling in the 106th Border War. Colorado State 38, Wyoming 20.

2. Boise State (5-2, 3-1): The Broncos are ahead of the Rams in the Mountain Division by a half-game, and based on their win over CSU back in early September. Boise State has the league’s best offense in terms of scoring (32 ppg) and yards (485 ypg). The team also is about as healthy physically since the start of the season, so look out. This week: vs. Brigham Young, 7 p.m. MT Friday (ESPN). Boise State is 42-12 in non-Saturday games and 21-5 on Fridays. Boise State 34, BYU 17.

3. San Diego State (4-3, 2-1): The Aztecs move up two spots because they seem to have found their identity — give the football to sophomore running back Donnel Pumphrey and play good defense. The Aztecs are the only team in the league that allows fewer than 20 points per game (18.7) and Pumphrey is seventh nationally in rushing (141.3 ypg). This week: Off.

4. Utah State (4-3, 1-1): A drop of two spots after a narrow 16-13 loss at Colorado State. The Aggies lost another quarterback in Darrel Garretson, and now are down to their No. 3 guy. But the defense continues to shine and there are enough good players on the team where the quarterback won’t have to do too much … at least not this week. This week: vs. UNLV, 2 p.m. MT Saturday (ESPNews). The Aggies will ride their defense and get a handful of plays from the offense to win. Utah State 27, UNLV 13.

5. Air Force (5-2, 2-2): A narrow home win over New Mexico last week was closer than many expected, but a win is a win. The defense continues to play well. Just a solid team that no one will want to play down the stretch. This week: Off.

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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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Lewis says he’s ready for larger role if needed for Cowboys

If the news is what the Wyoming football team expects, sophomore Xavier Lewis said he’s ready to step up his game.

First-year coach Craig Bohl said Monday it is doubtful senior free safety and co-captain Darrenn White will return this season after a knee injury late in the first half in the Cowboys’ 38-28 loss at Hawaii last Saturday night.

Xavier Lewis

Xavier Lewis

UW is still waiting for results on a MRI on White, but it is not optimistic about White’s return. If that’s the case, it is Lewis’ chance to be the guy to play the position that is often like the quarterback on offense in terms of getting the defensive calls and making sure other guys in the secondary are lined up correctly.

“I feel very comfortable with the defense,” Lewis said Monday. “We’ve been repping it heavy since spring ball. We go over our fits over and over. There may be a few slip ups here and there, but as a defense I know it pretty well. I’m excited to help conduct it now.

For more on Lewis, other options UW may look at at free safety and the possible return of a veteran player at strong safety, see Tuesday’s Wyoming Tribune Eagle and Laramie Boomerang, and log on to wyosports.net.

Bohl held his weekly news conference with the media Monday. Here is most of that via video:

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Numbers aren’t pretty for Cowboys at midway point of season

For those who stayed up and watched Wyoming’s 38-28 loss at Hawaii, I commend you.

For all the coverage from the game, go to wyosports.net.

No need to rehash a lot of the bad from that game, which saw the Cowboys give up 513 yards of total offense and be outscored 28-7 in the second half.

At the midway point of the season, UW is 3-3 overall and 1-1 in the Mountain West. If certain numbers don’t improve, the Cowboys will be hard-pressed to win many more games in the second half of the season.

The Cowboys are tied for 120th in sacks with four in six games. San Jose State, Kent State and Navy are the only teams with fewer sacks than UW. Three of UW’s four sacks are by its linebackers. One is by a defensive lineman — senior defensive tackle Patrick Mertens — and none by the defensive ends.

UW also allows 31 points, 202.3 rushing yards and 421.3 total yards per game, and teams have converted 49.5 percent of their third downs. All areas that need to improve, but will they? First-year coach Craig Bohl said after the Hawaii game there is plenty to improve upon, but can the Cowboys do it?

Offensively, UW needed to play its sixth game to score more than 20 points in a game, and one of its four touchdowns against Hawaii was scored by the defense. Its 18.3 points per game is 116th in the country.

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