The opening week of college football is now in the past. For Mountain West programs, the week brought joy, pain, embarrassment, and hope. Last week the conference went 5-5 with all teams participating in non-conference play.
Against the Pac-12, Mountain West teams finished with a 2-2 split. Against BCS level competition, the conference finished 2-5 with Colorado State and Nevada defeating Colorado and Cal respectively. I went 9-1 in last week’s predictions. Something tells me this week won’t be as successful an endeavor.
Air Force (1-0) at Michigan (0-1) 1:30 Mountain
So one team is coming off a huge win no one witnessed, and another was smashed by Alabama on a national stage. The Falcons had excellent production from quarterback Connor Deitz and running back Cody Getz in their dismantaling of Idaho State. A trip to Ann Arbor to face an angry Wolverines squad is going to be a different story.
Prediction: Air Force 16 Michigan 41
South Florida (1-0) at Nevada (1-0) 1:35 Mountain
After a gigantic tone setting victory over Cal, the Wolf Pack are primed to enter their home opener with more confidence than a prom king at the after party. I’m nervous about a let down after an emotional win, but I’ll give the slight edge to Cody Fajardo and MWC offensive player of the week Stefphon Jefferson.
Prediction: South Florida 27 Nevada 30
Toledo (0-1) at Wyoming (0-1) 2pm Mountain
The Rockets stay on their Western roadie and travel from Tuscon (where they lost in OT to Arizona) to Laramie. Toledo runs a balanced attack and is used to scoring a lot of points but were held to 17 by a young Wildcats defense. Not only that, Arizona racked up over 600 yards of offense. Brett Smith had flashes of brilliance in Austin. This week’s defense will provide more opportunities for the Cowboys QB.
Prediction: Toledo 31 Wyoming 41
Fresno State (1-0) at Oregon (1-0) 4:30 Mountain
This is rough. Not to predict, but to watch. Marcus Mariota looked like anything but a freshman quarterback in the Ducks lopsided 57-34 win over Arkansas State. Fresno State should provide a similar test for the young QB. Chip Kelly still has the toys to make this offense put up big numbers.
Prediction: Fresno State 21 Oregon 49
North Dakota State (1-0) at Colorado State (1-0) 5pm Mountain
Jim McElwain already proved the effect he has had on the Rams in only one game. The head coach had CSU much more prepared for the Rocky Mountain Showdown than his counterpart Jon Embree of CU. The Bison are a speed bump so long as the Rammies show up in the 1st half.
Prediction: NDSU 16 CSU 41
Army (0-0) at San Diego State (0-1) 5:30 Mountain
The Cadets have yet to play a game this season. While the Aztecs have a distinct talent advantage keep in mind the Black Knights only lost SDSU by three last season. Defensively San Diego State held up admirably against Washington which is saying something. Army just doesn’t have the personnel and 2012 will be a different story.
Prediction: Army 6 San Diego State 36
New Mexico (1-0) at Texas (1-0) 6pm Mountain
These two states share a border but little else. The Lobos have matched their win total each of the past three seasons already. Ok, the total is only one, and the win was against Southern. However, a win is a win in Albuquerque these days. There will be no win in week two. Texas will stampede any hope early.
Prediction: New Mexico 13 Texas 45
Northern Arizona (0-1) at UNLV (0-1) 8pm Mountain
Minnesota handed the Rebels a heartbreaking overtime loss. How UNLV responds to an FCS school will be interesting. The Lumberjacks were slammed by Arizona State last week so it’s hard to know how bad or good they really are. UNLV is several steps below the Sun Devils but several above a mid-level Big Sky program. Tim Cornett is coming off a 127 yard two TD performance, and should improve this week.
Prediction: Northern Arizona 14 UNLV 27
James Gomez is a Pac-12 and Mountain West columnist for Rant Sports and member of the Football Writers Association of America
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