Mountain West Rankings: West
This is NOT a prediction of how the teams will finish. They’re the rankings of how good the teams are going into the season.
Please scroll down for the Mountain West rankings done by total conference, ranking 1 through 12.
1. San Diego State Aztecs
Should be ranked higher because … the rushing machine keeps on rolling. Juwan Washington might not be Rashaad Penny, but he’ll put up big numbers on the ground behind a killer offensive line that should be among the league’s best. And, as always, the defense is going to be fantastic. But …
Should be ranked lower because … the D line needs some rebuilding. Noble Hall is a great end, but the rest of the front needs fall camp to get back to form. Christian Chapman is a strong veteran quarterback, but the new receivers have to emerge.
2. Fresno State Bulldogs
Should be ranked higher because … the team is even better than the breakthrough ten-win season. KeeSean Johnson leads the league’s best receiving corps, Marcus McMaryion is a strong veteran quarterback, and once again, the defense will be special.
Should be ranked lower because … as good as the team is, a strong running back has to emerge and a few new parts have to rise up on the defensive front. It’s a good problem to have, but now the program has to be used to being the hunted again, along with the high expectations.
3. UNLV Rebels
Should be ranked higher because … finally, the Rebels should be able to turn the corner thanks to QB Armani Rogers and RB Lexington Thomas forming one of the better backfields in the Mountain West. The linebacking corps will be the best the Rebels have had for a long time.
Should be ranked lower because … the program has had great pieces at times over the years, and nothing came from it. There’s excitement and potential, but the team has to finally produce. If the defensive front isn’t okay, it could be another disappointing year.
4. Nevada Wolf Pack
Should be ranked higher because … the Air Raid offense should be stronger and more effective in its second year under head coach Jay Norvell. Ty Gangi is a veteran quarterback now, and the receivers are there to get it all moving.
Should be ranked lower because … the defense is still going to be a problem, especially up front. The safeties are great, and Malik Reed is a fantastic hybrid end, but the run defense is going to be pounded on.
5. Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
Should be ranked higher because … the run ‘n’ shoot is about to be ramped up. The parts might not quite be there to make the O blow up, but it’ll be a lot of fun. Getting back Jahlani Tavai and Solomon Matautia gives the Rainbow Warriors a great linebacking tandem to start with.
Should be ranked lower because … the system might be there, but does the offense have the receivers? John Ursua needs to be healthy and ready to rock, and Cole McDonald has to prove he can handle the passing work. The defensive front is going to be a work in progress – get ready for a lot of shootouts.
6. San Jose State Spartans
Should be ranked higher because … the second year of Brent Brennan can’t help but be better. He has a few decent young parts to help build up in the offensive backfield, and there are actually a few decent defensive tackles to work around.
Should be ranked here because … overall, the lines are still a problem. The defensive front is getting better, but the ends and the pass rush have to emerge. There are plenty of good parts, but there isn’t any one area of strength.