Boise State: Is anyone surprised that Boise State is a contender for the MWC? The Broncos have consistently proven to be a true national brand that most G5 schools would offer a human sacrifice for. Although they missed their opportunity at a shot for the conference title last year, Boise State is returning their junior QB, Brett Rypien, after an impressive 2016 season which led the conference in total yards. The Broncos are facing plenty of difficulties this year however. Their all-time leading WR, Thomas Sperbeck, is gone as well as their productive RB, Jeremy McNichols, and they will have to play a load of difficult teams. They start the season against a surprisingly powerful Troy, which will not be an easy win, and immediately faceoff against Washington State. Boise State also faces BYU, SDSU, and Wyoming. HC, Bryan Harsin, will have to figure out a way to replace plenty of losses at WR, RB, OL, and special teams if they hope to win more than 6 games. A rule of thumb however, never doubt Boise State’s ability to compete at the highest level.
Wyoming: It feels slightly weird talking about Wyoming contending in a competitive conference, yet here we are. Last year the Cowboys surprised many by playing in the Mountain West Championship game, barely losing to SDSU who they beat two games prior. After losing only two conference games in 2016, Wyoming has set an expectation for themselves that we are all waiting to collapse. QB Josh Allen has made a name for himself as a top NFL draft pick with an impressive 2016 season passing for 3,203 yards and 28 touchdowns. Allen will have to prove his worth this year however with major losses at WR, RB, and OL. Although the Cowboys suffer some difficulties in offense, they are returning plenty of their defense with a new DC that plans on stopping the powerful MWC offenses. Last year Wyoming was picked preseason last in the conference and we all saw how that turned out. A first-round draft caliber QB could be exactly what it takes to finally win the conference.
San Diego State: The Aztecs are coming off a MWC championship and are the clear favorite for a three-peat as they attempt to become an official G5 blue blood. Although SDSU appears to have some offensive losses, their two running backs, Rashaad Penny and Juwan Washington, should suffice as enough stability to produce an efficient offense with sophomore QB, Christian Chapman. Where their offense evokes slight question, the Aztec defense appears to be as strong as ever, returning six starters to the already league’s best. With some key talented positions being replaced, it’s hard to say if SDSU will be as dominate as they were last year. It appears unlikely however that any other team in the West Division will make enough progress from last year to threaten the Aztec throne, or pyramid to be more historically accurate I guess.
Hawaii: The Rainbow Warriors look fierce. Like, fiercer than they sound. Last year, HC Nick Rolovich showed major improvements for Hawaii as they finished second in the division and found their way to a bowl game, something they haven’t done since 2010. Entering only his second year as HC, Rolovich plans to make an even bigger splash in the MWC this year (yes, that was a terrible Hawaii reference). The offense is returning a majority of their starters from last year, including junior QB Dru Brown. Brown had a good season last year, throwing for 2,488 yards and 19 touchdowns, and will look to improve at the position this year with some talented WRs. The only concern for Hawaii now is replacing their losses at secondary on defense. With any improvements however, the Warriors should be looking at an eight-win season. Although it is unlikely Hawaii will best SDSU for the division, it would be sweet to see their mascots go at it.