2012 Pre-Preseason Rankings - Mountain West
Boise State WR Matt Miller
Boise State WR Matt Miller
Posted Jan 17, 2012

The too early look at how good the Mountain West teams should be in 2012.

CFN 2012 First Look Rankings

Mountain West

2011 CFN Pre-Preseason First Look Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20  

2011 CFN Final Season Rankings
The Top 10 | Rankings 11-25 | Rankings 26-50
- Rankings 51-75 | Rankings 76-100The Bottom 20

- CFN 2011 FINAL Rankings

It might seem way too early, but considering the returning starters and the teams coming back, where does everyone stand before Signing Day and spring ball? Here's CFN's first look at all the teams for 2012 based on how good they appear to be at the moment.
1. Boise State (12-1)

Is it time to doubt Boise State now that Kellen Moore is finally gone? The Broncos aren't off to the Big East until next year, and they'll need the year to rebuild and reload with Joe Southwick and Grant Hedrick battling to take over for Moore. The running game also takes a hit with Doug Martin and D.J. Harper done, while star tackle Nate Potter and two other starters up front are gone. Only one starter – corner Lee Hightower – is back on defense.

2. Nevada (7-6)

It might not be a return to 2010, but the Wolf Pack should be decent in its first year in the Mountain West. Three starters are back up front, but receivers Rishard Matthews and Tray Session are gone. QB Cody Fajardo is an emerging star with his excellent running ability, and he needs help from emerging back Stephfon Jefferson to take the heat off. The defense came up with one of its best years under Hall of Fame head coach Chris Ault, but key replacements are needed on the line and five of the front seven are gone. The secondary is full of three seniors after finishing first in the WAC in pass efficiency defense.

3. San Diego State (8-6)

Can Rocky Long keep the momentum going in a good first year after taking over for head coach Brady Hoke? The top offensive stars – QB Ryan Lindley and RB Ronnie Hillman – are gone, as are three starters on the line. All the top receivers are back, and they'll have to shine in shootouts with the defense needing three new starting linemen and losing top tackling linebacker Miles Burris in the 3-4. Leon McFadden should be among the Mountain West's best corners.

4. Air Force (7-6)

There's always massive turnover at Air Force and there are always a slew of big needs to be filled, but unlike the last few years, quarterback will be the biggest concern with Tim Jefferson finally done along with backup Connor Dietz. Eight starters are gone off the nation's third-ranked rushing offense, while the defense that struggled so much loses Jordan Waiwaiole and three starting linebackers. In all, eight starters are gone off the defense. On the plus side, several young defenders saw time throughout last year.

5. Fresno State (4-9)

New head coach Tim DeRuyter will try to put the bark back in a defense that fell off the map last year. Losing tackle Logan Harrell won't help the cause, but eight starters are back including leading tackler Travis Brown. The offense will work around underappreciated running back Robbie Rouse, who should be a threat to put up huge numbers behind a decent-looking line with three starters back. QB Derek Carr needs to come into his own even though leading receiver Devon Wylie is gone.

6. Wyoming (8-5)

After the shocker of a 2011 season, the pressure will be on to do even more. Everything will start with QB Brett Smith, and while Alvester Alexander took off early to the NFL, the running game should be terrific. Both starting tackles are gone as is top receiver Mazi Ogbonna. The defense was one of the worst in America against the run, and now both starting ends are gone along with top linebacker Brian Hendricks. Three starters return in the secondary.

7. Hawaii (6-7)

New head coach Norm Chow should make Hawaii into Hawaii again offensively once he chooses a quarterback. David Graves is the front-runner, and he'll have some nice pieces to work with led by powerful running back Joey Iosefa and Jeremiah Ostrowski and Billy Ray Stutzmann to throw to. Three blockers are gone off the line including both starters on the left side. The defense wasn't exactly a rock, and now it has to replace three starters on the line and loses linebackers Aaron Brown and Corey Paredes.

8. Colorado State (3-9)

Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain has to jump-start an offense that finished 101st in the nation in scoring, but his bigger issue is a miserable defense. Getting more out of the defensive line is a must with three starters back and six starters returning to the back seven. QB Pete Thomas seemed like he'd be a perfect fit under McElwain, but he left the program. The top receivers are back and Chris Nwoke is a good back to hand off to. However, three starters are gone up front.

9. UNLV (2-11)

Will things ever start to turn around for the Rebels? It's head coach Bobby Hauck's third year, and he needs to find an identity for an offense that didn't go anywhere and a D that couldn't stop anyone but Hawaii. The running game should be fine with Tim Cornett and Dionza Bradford good enough to work around. Finding a steady quarterback is a must between Sean Reilly and Caleb Herring, but the nation's 118th-ranked passing game will struggle even more with Michael Johnson and Phillip Payne done. Six starters are gone from a defense that finished 118th in points allowed.

10. New Mexico (1-11)

Bob Davie has a ton of work to do trying to erase the disaster that was the Mike Locksley experience. Any improvement has to start with the lines that get three starters back on the offensive side and has some rebuilding to do on the defensive front. Tackling-machine linebacker Carmen Messina is gone as are both corners. QB B.R. Holbrook has to establish himself as the leader from the start, and he has decent receivers to work with including TE Lucas Reed. The rushing combination of Demarcus Rogers and Crusoe Gongbay will be featured from the start.