It’s a good time to be
a WAC fan, or become one.
Three are better leagues, stronger ones from top to bottom, and ones
with far more star power, but there likely won’t be any with better
week-to-week storylines, and there won’t be any more entertaining.
Helped by becoming a haven for wayward coaches (Dick Tomey at San Jose
State, Hal Mumme at New Mexico State, June Jones at Hawaii) to go along
with a Hall-of-Famer (Chris Ault at Nevada) and two relatively young
stars who’ll someday be elsewhere (Chris Petersen at Boise State and Pat
Hill at Fresno State), the league has become really interesting really
For years Fresno State has been giving the big boys a tough time (even
if there haven’t actually been any major wins of note lately), Hawaii
has always been a nightmare of a place to play, and Nevada has
represented itself well. But after Boise State beat Oklahoma in the
classic 2007 Fiesta Bowl the WAC now has the signature performance to
show the world that the league deserves more respect and more attention.
WAC games are no longer going to be nice late night diversions at the
end of a long day of watching other leagues; they’re going to be
appointment television week after week.
Fine, so you’re not going to go out and buy a Louisiana Tech sweatshirt
or a pair of Utah State Zubaz, but you’re certainly going to watch Boise
State now on a regular basis. You’re going to want to see all the fuss
is about several time zones to the left when Colt Brennan, Davone Bess,
and the Hawaii air show starts putting up gonzo numbers yet again. And
later on down the line, just because you’ll be a bit curious, you’ll
figure out where Las Cruses, New Mexico is to fine Chase Holbrook and
Chris Williams play pitch-and-catch about 100 times in Mumme’s New
Mexico State offense.
Impress your friends early by claiming San Jose State actually has a
shot at beating either Arizona State or Kansas State in the first two
weeks. Set the dial to pretentious and rightfully claim how Nevada has a
puncher’s chance to hang around with Nebraska for a while. Get back on
that Fresno State bandwagon of a few years ago and watch Pat Hill’s club
come out and play night-and-day better than last year.
If being a WAC fan before wasn’t your college football guilty pleasure,
it needs to be.
Team That'll Surprise
New Mexico State – The offense will simply bomb the weaker teams into
submission. The Aggie defense couldn’t stop you and your grandma’s
knitting circle from scoring, but when you have an attack that’ll roll
for close to 500 yards per game, little things like stopping the
opposition don’t tend to matter. There are just enough cream-puffs (SE
Louisiana? Arkansas Pine-Bluff?!) to keep the Aggies in the hunt for a
Team That'll Disappoint
Boise State – When you’ve lost one game or less in four of the last five
years, dropping two would qualify as a disappointment, especially if it
means the Broncos don’t win the WAC again. After the Fiesta Bowl,
everyone will expect that every time out, and it’s not going to
happen. Ho hum, the team that’s rebuilding a bit on both sides might
slip into a disastrous abyss … and go 10-2.
Offensive Player of the Year
QB Colt Brennan, Sr. Hawaii – He could throw for 5,000 yards and 45
touchdown passes and some will be disappointed he didn’t break 6,000 and
sixty. The stats could overshadow his leadership if the Warriors win the
Defensive Player of the Year
LB Ezra Butler, Sr. Nevada – Being the WAC’s best defensive player is
sort of like being the winner of a Don Imus look-alike contest, but
Butler really is good. He’s a terror in the backfield with a
league-leading 17.5 tackles for loss last season, and he’s the type of
veteran leader who can make the Wolf Pack defense shine in the
5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. WR Chris Williams, Jr. New Mexico State
2. WR Davone Bess, Jr. Hawaii
3. DE Ben Calderwood, Jr. Utah State
4. LB Matt Castelo, Sr, San Jose State
5. LB David Vobora, Sr. Idaho
Coach on the Hot Seat
Utah State – After going 4-19 in his first two seasons, and likely
needing to pull off a big upset to come up with a victory this year,
Guy’s team at least has to show signs of being ultra-competitive to be
around for year four.
5 Non-Conference Games the WAC opponents had better take, very, very
1. Kansas State at Fresno State, Nov. 24
2. San Jose State at Arizona State, Sept. 1
3. New Mexico State at New Mexico, Sept. 8
4. Nevada at Northwestern, Sept. 1
5. Fresno State at Texas A&M, Sept. 8
5 Best Pro Prospects
1. QB Colt Brennan, Sr. Hawaii
2. CB Dwight Lowery, Sr. San Jose State
3. WR Davone Bess, Jr. Hawaii
4. OL Jeff Cavender, Sr. Boise State
5. QB Chase Holbrook, Jr. New Mexico State
5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. Taylor Tharp or Bush Hamdan for Jared Zabransky, QB Boise State
2. Josh Bean for Korey Hall, LB Boise State
3. B.J. Batts, Jayson Rego and Kealoha Pilares for Nate Ilaoa, RB Hawaii
4. Nick Graziano for Jeff Rowe, QB Nevada
5. Lonyae Miller or Clifton Smith for Dwayne Wright, RB Fresno State
5 Bold Predictions
1. Hawaii and New Mexico State will wage a war for the ages. October 27th.
Make sure you’re schedule is clear to watch two of the nation’s best
offenses (if not the top two) put on a show. The Warriors won 49-30 last
year with the two combining for 956 yards of total offense. Expect 100
points and well over 1,000 yards.
2. Boise State will slip a bit before roaring back in 2008. Fine, so a
slip for Boise State still might mean a double-digit win season, but the
team will play more like 2005 (when it went 9-4) than 2006. Next year,
the program will be back to BCS challenging form.
3. No one will keep Hawaii to under forty points. Sound crazy? Only
Alabama, Boise State and Oregon State were able to do it last year, and
even those games were tight until the end. The offense rolled for over
sixty in four games and should do that in at least six.
4. Utah State won’t win. At least, the Aggies won’t be favored. The
easiest game on the slate is at Idaho. The second easiest is against
Louisiana Tech. The team will be far better than last season when it
struggled to do anything offensively, but it still won’t be enough to
turn the woebegone program around.
5. Fresno State won’t pull off any big upsets, but San Jose State will.
The Bulldogs will have their chances against Texas A&M and Oregon in
early September, but they won’t have enough run defense to come away
with wins. However, the Spartans will beat either Arizona State, Kansas
State, or Stanford (if that’s actually an upset).
What Will Happen
- The focus and attention will be off Boise State after an early
loss at Washington. Then things will quickly change as Chris Petersen’s
club rolls through the WAC schedule, including an emotionally-charged
battle at Fresno State, only to lose at Hawaii to close things out.
- Hawaii won’t lose. As long as Colt Brennan stays healthy, the Warriors
will be this year’s dangerous WAC threat for the BCS. The toughest
non-conference game is against Washington at home. The toughest road
date is at Nevada.
- The loser of the San Jose State – Fresno State game on October 20th
will be eliminated from a bowl game.
- Hawaii, Boise State, and Nevada will go bowling.