The Mountain West Conference is making strides.
About one month ago, the conference announced via press release that along with growing to 12 football schools, there will now also be two divisions. And along with those two divisions, a conference championship game.
“Last month, the Mountain West’s directors of athletics formed two football divisions based upon common geographic regions and traditional rivalries, while also creating the first Mountain West Football Championship Game,” the conference’s press release reads.
“Beginning in the fall of 2013, Mountain West football membership will include Air Force, Boise State, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State and Wyoming in the Mountain Division and Fresno State, Hawai`i, Nevada, San Diego State, San Jose State and UNLV in the West Division.”
So, with the Mountain and West divisions kicking this fall, which one is in shape to be the better of the two?
Right away, it’s easy to see the Mountain Division has the Boise State Broncos, who have dominated the conference for the last two years. They’ve gone 23-3 combined and show no signs of slowing down. What made the explosive offensive team special last season was its dominant defense, allowing a mere 15.8 points per.
But, besides the Broncos, the division leaves something to be desired in terms of depth. The Air Force Falcons have hovered around .500 as of late, while others have been well below that mark. Of course, newcomer Utah State Aggies were a force to be reckoned with last season, going 11-2, finishing the year ranked No. 22 and winning the Famous Idaho Potato Bowl by blowing out the Toledo Rockets. And it can’t be missed that the Colorado State Rams are improving under head coach Jim McElwain.
The West features the San Diego State Aztecs and Fresno State Bulldogs, each of which went 9-4 last year. The Aztecs were the 20th best rushing team in the nation, and leading rusher Adam Muema gained nearly 1,500 yards with 16 scores, as a sophomore. For Fresno State, junior quarterback Derek Carr made the offense go. He ended the season with 4,104 yards, 37 touchdowns and only seven interceptions; he’ll likely be one of the best players in the MW again this fall.
The Nevada Wolf Pack struggled a bit in the 2012, their first year with the MW, but will almost certainly be one of the best running teams and highest scoring squads in the West in 2013.
So, when it comes down to it, Boise will be the best team once again, but the West Division will be deeper with quality squads.
All this football talk has me excited already, and luckily, Spring Practices kickoff very soon for many Mountain West teams.