Mountain West Conference 2012 Power Rankings: Week Eleven
Mountain West Power Rankings Week 11
Well if finally happened. Chaos in the Mountain West has commenced. The Boise State Broncos, the number one team in my power rankings for most of the season, lost at home to the San Diego State Aztecs. In essence, there is a paper scissors rock scenario among the top three programs.
A non-conference egg was laid by the Air Force Falcons on the road at West Point. Oddly, a team that technically controls its destiny in the Mountain West went 0-2 against rival service academies. In a surprising blowout, the Army Black Knights rose out of nowhere to defeat Air Force.
There are plenty of scenarios that could play out in the Mountain West and predicting a winner at this point is going to be difficult. If the Fresno State Bulldogs win out, they will have the tie break over all others; assuming of course the Bulldogs can beat Air Force.
In the immediate future, the Aztecs will host the Falcons in what is sure to be an elimination game in San Diego. Although, the Falcons can still finish first in the conference, they are a long shot, especially if their loss to Army is any indicator.
This is the final stretch run for Mountain West teams to show their merit or lack thereof. Plenty can happen between now and the final regular season game. What happens is up for debate. Here is my best interpretation at the power rankings for the conference for week eleven.
10. Hawaii Warriors (1-7) (0-5)
At this point in the season it doesn't appear the Hawaii Warriors will elevate themselves from the Mountain West basement. Three conference games remain for the Warriors who could at least use a confidence boost heading into 2013. Their best bet is against the UNLV Rebels at home November 25. Year one has been a complete disaster for Norm Chow. Year two, improvement is expected in the Aloha State.
9. Colorado State Rams (2-7) (1-4)
OK, so the award to worst Mountain West debut does not go to Jim McElwain, but it's close. A rough season for the Colorado State Rams continues as they must find ways to win with a true freshman third-string QB. Conner Smith has a bright future, but in the present is still more youth and vinegar than Rams fans would like. The problem is, even with their top two quarterbacks the Rams were losing. McElwain would be smart to get at least one more win, or risk having a worse season than his predecessor Steve Fairchild ever did.
8. Wyoming Cowboys (1-7) (0-4)
In the worst way, the Wyoming Cowboys needed a win against their fiercest rival CSU. It happened, and a lot of that is thanks to the stellar play of quarterback Brett Smith. Once again, when healthy, Smith proved he is as good as any signal-caller in the Mountain West. A bowl game is off the table, but a strong finish is not. Embattled head coach Dave Christensen could use it.
7. New Mexico Lobos (4-6) (1-4)
Hope for a 2013 bowl appearance took a horrific turn for the worse with a lopsided loss at UNLV over the weekend. Even if the New Mexico Lobos miss out on the postseason, they have already taken a big step forward in Bob Davie's first year in Albuquerque. The Lobos have two more home games and finish in Reno. Kasey Carrier (above) has the talent to gain yards on the ground and lead UNM to at least a 2-1 finish, however, 1-2 is more likely.
6. UNLV Rebels (2-8) (2-3)
To say Bobby Hauck needed a win against New Mexico is a huge understatement. To win the way the UNLV Rebels did, a 35-7 final, says a lot about where the program might be headed. The emergence of running back Bradley Randle has given the Rebels a two-headed rushing monster. Both Randle and Tim Cornett exceeded 100 rushing yards in the win over UNLV. Importantly, quarterback Nick Sherry is just a freshman and has the goods to give fans in Sin City hope for the future.
5. Nevada Wolf Pack (6-3) (3-2)
Amazing that at one point the Nevada Wolf Pack were atop the conference power rankings. Now that the season has taken an ugly left turn for the folks in Reno, a conference title is extremely unlikely. What the Pack can do is find a way to win out and then hope the Aztecs fall in the meantime. That scenario is improbable. However, there is still a chance for redemption available as the Fresno State Bulldogs, and Boise State remain on the Pack's schedule.
4. Air Force Falcons (5-3) (4-1)
It appeared that the Falcons were peaking after a decisive win against Nevada. Then the disaster at West Point this last Saturday derailed much hope the Falcons are peaking at all. In fact, the 41-21 beat-down at the hands of the Army Black Knights makes it appear the Falcons have hit rock bottom. A regrouping is needed as the Academy still controls its destiny in the conference. Finishing unblemished will be difficult with San Diego State and Fresno State left.
3. Fresno State Bulldogs (7-3) (5-1)
This is where the power rankings get sticky. The top three could go in any order, with an argument to be made for each of the final three programs. The Bulldogs can win the Mountain West if they go the rest of the season without a loss. I'm still high on the Dogs, but as of week eleven, cannot justify putting them ahead of Boise State who they lost to on the field of play. Yes, FS defeated the Aztecs easily, but on a week to week basis, SDSU has the best case with a win in Boise.
2. Boise State Broncos (7-2) (4-1)
It took several ugly moments on special teams for the Broncos to lose to the Aztecs, but it happened. The loss was a close one, and if Joe Southwick had connected on a late two point conversion, we could be having a different conversation. A Mountain West title is not out of the question, but it will take some help.
1. San Diego State Aztecs (6-3) (4-1)
Winning on the blue turf happens as often as moon landings. That's why the Aztecs W over the weekend in Boise is enough to propel them to the top of the power rankings. Yes, SDSU lost to Fresno State, but Rocky Long's crew has run off five consecutive wins. What's more impressive is that San Diego State beat the Broncos with their second string QB Adam Dingwell (above). If the Bulldogs lose a game, and the Aztecs win out, pop the champagne corks in southern California.