2012 CFN WAC Preview
Utah State C Tyler Larsen
Utah State C Tyler Larsen
Posted Aug 8, 2012

2012 CFN WAC Preview - Is it possible for the WAC to go out with a bang?

Preview 2012

WAC Preview

- 2012 Idaho Preview | 2012 Louisiana Tech Preview 
- 2012 New Mexico State Preview2012 San Jose State Preview
- 2012 Texas State Preview | 2012 Utah State Preview
- 2012 UTSA Preview

- 2012 WAC Preview
- 2012 WAC Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN All-WAC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 WAC Schedules & Picks
- 2012 WAC Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
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By Pete Fiutak

The WAC had no chance to try to stay alive with so many conferences poaching for teams and with geography being a problem, but the league can still try to have one more fun ride, even with a depleted roster.

It wasn't all that long ago that Hawaii was making national noise with a run to a BCS game, but now it's gone to the Mountain West. Boise State is gone, too, along with Fresno State and Nevada. It will be a seven team race with defending champion Louisiana Tech likely to dominate before going off to Conference USA, while Utah State might have a say in the matter before it takes off for the Mountain West.

San Jose State has improved and should be a threat to come up with a winning season, but just as head coach Mike MacIntyre is getting things together, the team will be off to the Mountain West next season. While all the defections might hurt, renting Texas State and UTSA for a year really stings, especially considering the Bobcats are going to the Sun Belt. At least the Roadrunners of UTSA are upgrading to Conference USA. But the Sun Belt? Really?

The league can't build around Idaho and New Mexico State – who have yet to be invited to anyone's dance – and there aren't a lot of options left on the table. In fact, there aren't any options; the Mountain West, Sun Belt and Conference USA all don't seem to have any interest.

UT-Arlington probably won't join with Texas State and UTSA both off to other leagues. Idaho is trying to figure out what it's going to do and might even drop down to the FCS by going back to the Big Sky Conference, it's old league, if nothing else works out. NMSU seems like a natural for the expanding Mountain West, but that doesn't appear likely without a ton of luck.

For one final year of fun, the WAC might be back to its old days of shootouts, lots of offense, and wild games with so many teams improving and getting stronger as they beef up for their new conferences. At the very least, every game will offer something different with several contrasts of styles.

New guy Texas State will run wild with Dennis Franchione's spread option attack, and Utah State does it even better with an offense that helped the program finally turn the corner last season.

Louisiana Tech will start bombing away more than ever, while San Jose State should be able to build on a solid end to last year with an offense that cranked out 277 passing yards per game. UTSA and South Alabama have veteran attacks that should be dangerous at times, and Idaho will continue to wing it around because the defense is so mediocre.

No, it's not an ideal way to close up shop after half a century of football, and there's always a chance the league finds new teams and new ways to configure itself, but for all intents and purposes, this is it.

Team That'll Surprise
Texas State – Dennis Franchione has a quirky team with an interesting option attack that's tough to prepare for. Chase Harper and the tight ends are fantastic and Shaun Rutherford is a strong dual-threat quarterback with the upside and potential to pull off a few huge performances for the ground game. If the line comes together in a hurry, the O should be shockingly decent at times.

Team That'll Disappoint
Idaho – Where are the sure-thing wins going to come from? Eastern Washington is better than most lower end FBS teams, while it'll take a major upset to come up with any wins until New Mexico State comes to town. The offense needs a ton of work and reloading under new offensive coordinator Jason Gesser, but will it do enough to overcome the always struggling defense? Don't assume wins over UTSA or Texas State.

Game of the Year
Utah State at Louisiana Tech, Nov. 17 – Who else is left in the league that matters? San Jose State might make things interesting in the regular season finale against Louisiana Tech at home, and Utah State also has to come to San Jose, but the WAC championship should come down to the Bulldogs vs. the Aggies in Ruston. Utah State gets two weeks to prepare, and should be coming in on a roll after playing New Mexico State, UTSA and Texas State, while Louisiana Tech has to face the same three teams but doesn't get the bye week.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. DE Travis Johnson, Sr. San Jose State
2. S Gary Walker, Sr. Idaho
1. LB Jamel Johnson, Sr. Louisiana Tech
4. QB Andrew Manley, Soph. New Mexico State
5. LB Steven Kurfehs, Jr. UTSA

Coach on the Hot Seat
Robb Akey, Idaho – His teams always play hard and the effort is always there, but the results haven't come on a consistent basis. There was the shocking 8-5 2009 season followed up by a solid 6-7 campaign, but the combined record over the other three seasons was 5-41 and now, worst of all, the program doesn't have a set home going forward. Everyone else is off to the Sun Belt or Mountain West, and it would've been nice if the program was coming off a big year to generate more buzz.

5 Non-Conference Games WAC Opponents Had Better Take Very, Very Seriously
1. Louisiana Tech at Illinois, Sept. 22
2. Louisiana Tech at Texas A&M, Aug. 30
3. Utah State at Wisconsin, Sept. 15
4. San Jose State at Stanford, Sept. 1
5. Texas Tech at Texas State, Sept. 8

Bold Statements

- Alright, Utah State, do it again. There's an assumption that things have turned around for good under Gary Andersen. And why not? The Aggies went 7-6 but five of the six losses came by a touchdown or less and four of them coming by a grand total of nine points. They gagged away defeats to Auburn, Colorado State, BYU, and Ohio thanks to a terrific year from the O line that paved the way for a great ground game. However, remember, 1996 was the last time the program came up with a winning season before last year.

- The New Mexico State defense isn't going to stop anyone – again – but the offense should be fantastic if QB Andrew Manley comes up with a great year. The franchise will build around the sophomore bomber. The Aggies will hit the five-win mark for the first time since 2004.

- If nothing else, the addition of UTSA and Texas State brings in some strong coaches. Larry Coker has a veteran Roadrunner team that should be entertaining, while Dennis Franchione's Texas State offense will give defensive coordinators fits.

- Louisiana Tech's toughest opponent could be boredom. No one in the league, with the possible exception of Utah State, is good enough to keep within two touchdowns of the veteran Bulldogs – if they're focused. The firepower is there and the defense is athletic, and even if the first half of the season is a bit rocky after going to Texas A&M, Houston, Illinois and Virginia, the conference season won't be a problem.

- For all the excitement around San Jose State after going 5-7 last year with nice wins over Navy and Fresno State to close things out, four of the wins came by a touchdown or less. On the flip side, three of the losses came by a grand total of seven points. The Spartans will be an X factor in the WAC race.

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. C Tyler Larsen, Jr. Utah State
2. WR Quinton Patton, Sr. Louisiana Tech
3. DT Justin Ellis, Jr. Louisiana Tech
4. CB Nevin Lawson, Jr. Utah State
5. S Xavier Daniels, Jr. Texas State

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. Utah State LB Tavaris McMillian for Bobby Wagner
2. Utah State RB Kerwynn Williams for Robert Turbin
3. San Jose State QB David Fales or Blake Jurich or Dasmen Stewart for Matt Faulkner
4. Louisiana Tech DE Kendrick James for Matt Broha
5. New Mexico State S George Callender for Donyae Coleman

- 2012 Idaho Preview | 2012 Louisiana Tech Preview 
- 2012 New Mexico State Preview2012 San Jose State Preview
- 2012 Texas State Preview | 2012 Utah State Preview
- 2012 UTSA Preview

- 2012 WAC Preview
- 2012 WAC Unit Rankings
- 2012 CFN All-WAC Team & Top 30 Players
- 2012 WAC Schedules & Picks
- 2012 WAC Team By Team Looks & Predicted Finish 
- 2011 WAC Preview | 2010 WAC Preview