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2008 CFN Mountain West Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Jun 20, 2008


While everyone's assuming it'll be the BYU show with it's "Quest For Perfection," but Utah is loaded, TCU is nasty again, and New Mexico can't be counted out. Check out all the predictions, the All-Mountain West team, unit rankings and more in the 2008 CFN Mountain West Preview.

2008 CFN Mountain West Preview

Team Previews & Predictions
Air Force | BYU | Colorado State | New Mexico
San Diego State
| TCU | UNLV | Utah | Wyoming

- CFN All-Mountain West Team & Top 30 Players
- Mountain West Team-by-Team Capsules

-
Mountain West Unit Rankings

- Mountain West Schedules & Predictions

By Pete Fiutak

For not being a BCS conference, the Mountain West does a good job of acting like one.

Sooner than later, this tweener of a conference, nestled at the low end of the BCS leagues and the high end of the non-BCSers, will get more and more fans and more and more respect.

While being on Versus might not be like being on ABC, Mountain West games are usually easier to find on a national scale than the typical Big 12 or ACC game. If you’re on the East Coast, how hard is it to catch the non-USC Pac 10 game? At the very least, the exposure is far better than it is for the other non-BCS leagues.

The nine Mountain West members have good-sized student bodies, a good base of fans, and in the cases of teams like BYU, Wyoming, New Mexico and even UNLV, they’re the only game in town. Most importantly, the conference represents itself well almost every time it goes against the big boys.

Just look at last season. Wyoming beat Virginia. BYU beat UCLA, Air Force thumped Notre Dame, and Utah destroyed UCLA and beat Louisville. In all, the Mountain West went 9-10 against BCS schools, with two of the league’s worst teams, Colorado State and San Diego State accounting for five of the losses, and went 4-1 in bowl games. By comparison, the Pac 10 went 8-5 against non-conference BCS schools with USC accounting for three of the wins. In other words, the Mountain West represents itself well, and it should be even better this year.

BYU has its best team yet in the Bronco Mendenhall era and has its sights set on getting into the BCS. Utah is more than good enough to win the league title and could even be the favorite against Michigan to start the year. From top to bottom the league has improved; considering the returning experience and talent, everything is in place to make even more noise.

Team That'll Surprise
Colorado State - Sonny Lubick might have been an all-time great coach for CSU, but the program needed a change in a major way. Steve Fairchild should bring in a new, fresh attitude to the team, and while he has to work with a slew of new starters, that might not be a bad thing considering the house cleaning needing to be done. As bad as last year was, ending on a two-game winning streak might be something to build on.

Team That'll Disappoint
Air Force - Air Force, like all service academies, always have to retool year by year with seniors always emerging, but replacing key players always stinks. QB Shaun Carney was a four-year starter, RB/WR Chad Hall was the Mountain West Offensive Player of the Year, and three All-Mountain West defensive performers are gone. The entire offensive backfield has to be replaced along with six starters in the defensive back eight.

Mountain West Game of the Year
BYU at Utah, November 22nd. Utah had the Cougars stuffed cold all game long and then gave up a 49-yard pass on fourth-and-18 to lead to BYU’s game-winning score with 38 seconds to play. Two years ago, John Beck came up with a heart-stopping, last-second scramble/touchdown pass to beat the Utes. If this year’s game is half as good as those two, it’ll be one of the must-see games of the college football season.

One Bold Prediction
Utah will ruin BYU’s dream season, but the Cougars will still win the Mountain West title. Bronco Mendenhall’s club has everything in place to not just get to the BCS, but to go unbeaten. The offense is loaded, the defense has plenty of playmakers, and the schedule works out well with UCLA and New Mexico coming to Provo. The regular-season ender is at Utah where the Utes will get payback for the two straight soul-crushing losses in the fiery rivalry.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. CB DeAndre Wright, Sr. New Mexico
2. DE Jan Jorgensen, Jr. BYU
3. RB Harvey Unga, Soph. BYU
4. DT John Fletcher, Jr. Wyoming
5. LB Russell Allen, Sr. San Diego State

Coach on the Hot Seat
Chuck Long, San Diego State – UNLV’s Mike Sanford and Wyoming’s Joe Glenn likely won’t be around next year if their teams don’t show major improvements, but it’s Long who has the most on the line career-wise. Once considered one of the hottest coaching properties out there after leading the Oklahoma offense, his era has yet to get off the ground.

5 Non-Conference Games Mountain West opponents had better take very, very seriously
1. UCLA at BYU, Sept. 13
2. Utah at Michigan, Aug 30
3. TCU at Oklahoma, Sept. 27
4. Texas A&M at New Mexico, Sept. 6
5. Oregon State at Utah, Oct. 2

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. CB DeAndre Wright, Sr. New Mexico
2. P/K Louie Sakoda, Sr. Utah
3.
OT Dallas Reynolds, Sr., BYU
4.
DE Jan Jorgensen, Jr., BYU
5. DT John Fletcher, Jr., Wyoming

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. Ty Paffett for Chad Hall, RB/WR, Air Force
2. Starr Fuimaono for Beau Bell, LB, UNLV
3. Jerry Hughes for Chase Ortiz, DE TCU
4. Isley Filiaga for Martail Burnett, DE Utah
5. Joe Dale for Steve Tate, SS Utah

Team Previews & Predictions
Air Force | BYU | Colorado State | New Mexico
San Diego State
| TCU | UNLV | Utah | Wyoming

- CFN All-Mountain West Team & Top 30 Players
- Mountain West Team-by-Team Capsules

-
Mountain West Unit Rankings

- Mountain West Schedules & Predictions