NCAA Football 2017 Season
MW Mountain Preview
Wyoming won the Mountain Division last year, and Colorado State is an intriguing sleeper pick, but the nod as the favorite this year still goes to Boise State. The Broncos looks to claim the Mountain title for the first time since 2014 over challengers Colorado State and Wyoming. Sleeper picks Air Force should be an interesting watch this fall as well. The new season of fantasy college football kicks off Saturday August 26 at FanPicks.
Boise State Broncos
Bryan Harsin has won 31 games in three years as the head coach at his alma mater, but the Broncos’ performance within the conference must improve. Boise State has played in the Mountain West Championship Game once in its four years of existence and is 4–5 in the last nine games against teams from its own division.
There is, however, still plenty of talent in the program. If junior quarterback Brett Rypien can take a step forward and the offense can turn yards into points, Boise State should be in position to reclaim its spot as the premier program in the league.
Colorado St. Rams
The Rams should contend for a fifth straight bowl appearance and challenge Boise State for the Mountain West’s Mountain Division title. The high-powered offense should put up plenty of points, but a defense that still has holes on the line and in the secondary is likely to give up plenty of points, too.
Three of the biggest games of the season fall in the first four weeks — against Oregon State to open Colorado State’s new on-campus stadium, vs. Colorado in Denver and at Alabama.
Wyoming was picked last in the Mountain Division of the Mountain West last season but ended up in a three-way tie for first and played in the league title game.
The offense will be formidable once again, but quarterback Josh Allen still has to improve while making those around him better. One thing Wyoming did well defensively last season was force turnovers (27 compared to 10 in 2015). But it must cut down on points and yards allowed per game. New defensive coordinator Scottie Hazelton figures to mix coverages in the secondary, which should take pressure off the Cowboys’ corners, who played exclusively man last season. If Allen has a big season and the defense improves, Wyoming will be in the hunt for another division title.
Air Force Falcons
Air Force averaged 38.6 points in quarterback Arion Worthman’s five starts last season. That lofty number might be required again, especially in the early weeks of the season while a youthful defense matures.
The offense should be powerful, and the experienced presence of Nate Romine at backup quarterback means the team will not collapse if Worthman suffers an injury. Tail back Tim McVey could soar past 1,500 yards this season and become the program’s best running back since Chad Hall earned Heisman Trophy votes in 2007.
The team will be tested early, with trips to Michigan, New Mexico and Navy in the first five weeks of the season. Another 10-win finish is unlikely, but Worthman and McVey should carry the Falcons to at least six wins and the 10th bowl game in head coach Troy Calhoun’s 11 seasons at the academy.
New Mexico Lobos
The Lobos are replacing several players from a 9–4 squad, including a key group of seniors who helped elevate the program. Head coach Bob Davie dipped into the junior college ranks to help fill the void. How well the new players fill the depth chart, especially on defense, could determine whether or not UNM can remain in the upper echelon of the Mountain Division. Boise State appears to be the team to beat, but the race for second place should be tight.
Utah St. Aggies
USU’s streak of five straight seasons with at least six wins and a trip to a bowl game ended last season with a 3–9 thud. The Aggies couldn’t close out games, suffering five Mountain West losses by a combined 29 points. Several of those setbacks came after leading by double digits in the second half.
The Mountain Division is by far the tougher of the two sides in the Mountain West, so the Aggies will have to be quite a bit better to make a significant move in the standings. The non-conference schedule is tough — with trips to Wisconsin and Wake Forest to go along with a home date vs. BYU — but Utah State catches a break by playing San Jose State and UNLV from the West Division. Still, getting to six wins will be a challenge.