MY Pre-Season Rankings:
This is by no means a rebuilding year, but it is still a step back from 13-0, Rose Bowl Champs. The last year in the MWC could be a challenging one. The defense does not worry me at all. There is a lot of young talent on this team on both sides, and the stable of RBs has to be the best in the nation. Prime areas of concern are o-line depth, safety experience, and QB leadership. The game that worries me the most, besides Boise, is Air Force, who is always tough at home and this young team won't have much time to prepare for the complicated triple option. Undefeated is not impossible this year, but 11-1 or 10-2 would be admirable and expectable records for a young group with potential running out their ears.
Starting this year, Air Force will have the opportunity to be a legitimate conference title contender every season. This has always been a scrappy group of disciplined servicemen who truly run a complicated offense to defend. Troy Calhoun is also a great coach. A win against TCU virtually guarantees a 2nd place finish, and you can bet these boys have that home game circled. Air Force is ready to stop playing spoiler and step into the MWC spotlight.
They've lost their coach and some talented WRs, but the precedent has been set and this is a program on the rise. Like AF, this team is trying to take advantage of realignment and establish itself as one of the new leaders of the MWC. Ryan Lindley and Ronnie Hillman are a formidable backfield combo at QB and RB (respectively). The schedule is also pretty favorable. The Air Force and CSU games should be very heated. They will definitely be bowl eligible again, but that is not their ceiling.
With both Air Force and SDSU at home, this Rams team has a realistic possibility of finishing 2nd in the conference as well. However, I'm being conservative with my ranking. For the first time in a long time, CSU returns a starting QB, which could make a big difference. Native Texan Mychal Sisson, provides a spark on defense at LB. No matter what, look for them to improve on the 3-win mark they posted the last two seasons. It may not sound like much, but it's a start.
For what it's worth, these Cowboys should without a doubt be the best of the worst in the 2011 MWC. That being said, this team should show marked improvement with 14 returning starters under 3rd year coach, Christensen. There is no reason why this team should not start 5-1, but then their schedule turns brutal. They should end up 6-6 and sneak into a bowl game. It may not be much, but it's a heck of a lot better than 3-9.
My God, this team was vomit-endusingly awful last year. Yet I'm picking them out of the cellar, and I'll tell you why. First, they get UNLV, SHSU, and rival NMSU (which could be a swing game) at home. So no matter what, you're looking at at least 2 wins, (2 is better than 1). Furthermore, Coach Locksley somehow managed to net some talented transfers from bcs schools, i.e. Ohio State, West Virginia, Illinois, etc. These talented transfers and 15 returning starters sound to me like a formula for 3 wins and a 7th place finish. Well done Lobos.
This year, UNLV will show its rebellion by refusing to win more than once, sorry Southern Utah. This is actually the least experienced team in the conference as far as starters returning, and that especially doesn't bode well when you're also arguably the least talented. Recipe for disaster. In short, don't bet on UNLV.
|Ed Wesley, TCU|
QB- Kellen Moore, Boise State
RB- Ed Wesley, TCU
RB- Doug Martin, Boise State
WR- Phillip Payne, UNLV
WR- Josh Boyce, TCU
|Tyler Shoemaker, Boise State|
TE- Lucas Reed, New Mexico
C- Weston Richburg, Colorado State
OG- Kyle Dooley, TCU
OG- AJ Wallerstein, Air Force
OT- Nate Potter, Boise State
OT- Tommie Draheim, SDSU
|Tank Carder #43 & Stansly Maponga #90, TCU|
DE- Braylon Broughton, TCU
DT- Billy Winn, Boise State
DT- Jerome Long, SDSU
LB- Tank Carder, TCU
LB- Tanner Brock, TCU
|Anthony Wright, Air Force|
CB- Leon McFadden, SDSU
CB- Anthony Wright, Air Force
S- George Iloka, Boise State
S- Jon Davis, Air Force
K- Abel Perez, SDSU
P- Anson Kelton, TCU
Ret- Whoever TCU starts... SPEED!
5 Games to Watch:
1. TCU @ Boise State: Duh. This one should be for all the marbles. It's developed into a fierce rivalry ever since the first TCU loss in the Fort Worth Bowl in 2003. First and last time these two play in the same conference. Both want a win BAD! Need I say any more?
2. TCU @ Air Force: This could decide the fates of both teams in week two. Air Force is ALWAYS tough at home and the Frogs have a young and raw but very talented team. Loser will end in 3rd place, winner could be 2nd or even first.
3. SDSU @ Colorado State: Well it's not for all the marbles, but it's for some of them. The winner of this game will be in the hunt for 2nd and insure that they won't finish in the bottom 4. Two rapidly improving teams that will take over once TCU leaves.
4. SDSU @ Michigan: It's an OOC game, but I like the story line. SDSU's Head Coach, Brady Hoke, and their offensive coordinator left after last season for the new look, but still arrogant, Big 10. I smell revenge. SDSU is better and Michigan still ain't what they used to be. Can the Aztecs pull the upset in the Big House?
5. Boise State vs Georgia (in Atlanta): Another OOC game. Boise gets to test its skills against SEC competition. They've beaten teams like this before, but UGA will likely finish in the SEC Championship this year, so they're pretty good. Things could get dicey. If Boise loses the opener, it changes the whole season.
Up Next... the Big 12.... 10?..... you know, the one with Texas, OU, and everybody else.