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2008 CFN WAC Preview

CollegeFootballNews.com
Posted Aug 16, 2008


Is it Bear Pascoe Fresno State's turn to be the next WAC representative in the BCS, or can Ian Johnson Boise State and Joshua Mauga and Nevada hold off the charge? The league is better from top to bottom, but will it be too tough for a third straight BCS appearance? Check it out in the 2008 CFN WAC Preview.

2008 CFN WAC Preview

Team Previews & Predictions
Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico State | San Jose State | Utah State

- CFN All-WAC Team & Top 30 Players
- WAC Team-by-Team Capsules

-
WAC Unit Rankings

- WAC Schedules & Predictions

By Pete Fiutak

Just when the WAC was everyone’s hot conference after Boise State’s miraculous 2007 Fiesta Bowl win over Oklahoma and Hawaii’s magical unbeaten run to the Sugar Bowl, Georgia, East Carolina and New Mexico put the league right back in its place. 

Yeah, Fresno State beat Georgia Tech in the Humanitarian Bowl, but the Yellow Jackets had just canned head coach Chan Gailey and played like a team looking to get its season over with. The WAC lost its other three bowl games with the biggest embarrassment Hawaii’s 41-10 loss to the Bulldogs which wasn’t even as close as the final score.

And now it’s time for the rebound.

Boise State might have some early issues on the lines, but its loss to Chris Johnson and East Carolina in the Hawaii Bowl appears to have been a sort of wake up call for a program that’s known nothing but success for the better part of the last decade. Nevada should have all the parts humming again on offense after the shocking 23-0 loss to New Mexico in the New Mexico Bowl, and Hawaii won’t be nearly as bad as expected; the cupboard isn’t totally bare.

Meanwhile, New Mexico State should be an offensive juggernaut with mighty-mite WR Chris Williams healthy again and QB Chase Holbrook back for his third year as the starter. San Jose State should be back to its 2006 bowl-season form, Louisiana Tech is on the rise under second-year head coach Derek Dooley, and Fresno State will have its best team in the Pat Hill era.

Yes, the league is still divided by the haves and have-nots, Utah State and Idaho will still struggle, but considering how much promise there was at the end of last season and the deflation that came after the bowls, the conference could use the stars to shine again. They will.

Team That'll Surprise

Louisiana Tech - This was a better team than it got credit for with a decent 5-7 first season under head coach Derek Dooley, and now everything's there to get bowl eligible. Eight starters return to what was a young offense, with three freshmen thrown to the wolves late in the year on the line, while five decent starters are back on defense. There's immediate help from the JUCO ranks to help fill in the holes.

Team That'll Disappoint
Hawaii – 2007 was an all-timer of a season, and now seven starters are gone off the offense and seven are gone from the D. This is a program in transition, and while it's planning on challenging for the WAC title again with an us-against-the-world attitude, the firepower simply isn't there to get by both Fresno State and Boise State. No, the Warriors aren't going to stop throwing it, but with a wholesale change in the receiving corps and a new starting quarterback coming in to replace Colt Brennan, there’s bound to be a drop-off.

WAC Game of the Year
Fresno State at Boise State, Nov. 28 – Boise State is 6-1 against Fresno State since joining the WAC in 2001. The last game of the regular season for each, this should determine the WAC title, and if the Broncos can pull off an upset at Oregon in mid-September, this showdown could be for a second unbeaten season and BCS spot in three years.

One Bold Prediction
Fresno State will generate a major national buzz by winning two of the three games against Rutgers, Wisconsin and UCLA, and then will blow its chance at the WAC title by losing at San Jose State and Boise State to close out the regular season. Pat Hill’s club has always been great at getting to the top of the league mountain, but it can’t quite get over the top. The Spartan defense should be terrific, and the Broncos at home simply don’t lose really, really big games.

5 Big-Time Players Who Deserve a Bigger Spotlight ...
1. WR Chris Williams, Sr. New Mexico State
2. TE Bear Pascoe, Sr. Fresno State
3. S Shiloh Keo, Jr. Idaho
4. LB Joshua Mauga, Sr. Nevada
5. DE Kevin Basped, Soph. Nevada

Coach on the Hot Seat
Brent Guy, Utah State – In four years Guy has put together a 6-28 résumé, but two of the wins came at the end of last year to show he didn’t lose his team and he things were getting better. However, barring something crazy happening, his team, even with ten returning defensive starters, will either finish last or second-to-last behind Idaho this season.

5 non-conference games WAC opponents had better take very, very seriously
1. Wisconsin at Fresno State, Sept. 13
2. Boise State at Oregon, Sept. 20
3. Fresno State at UCLA, Sept. 27
4. Texas Tech at Nevada, Sept. 6
5.
Fresno State at Rutgers, Sept. 1

5 Best Pro Prospects
1. TE Bear Pascoe, Sr. Fresno State
2. FS Antonio Baker, Jr. Louisiana Tech
3. CB Christopher Owens, Sr. San Jose State
4. C Dominic Green, Sr. Nevada
5. PK Dan Kelly, Sr. Hawaii

5 Biggest Shoes to Fill
1. QB Inoke Funaki for Colt Brennan, Hawaii
2. OT
Nate Potter for Ryan Clady, Boise State
3. WRs
Malcolm Lane & Michael Washington for Ryan Grice-Mullen & Davone Bess, Hawaii
4. LB
Andre Ferguson for David Vobora, Idaho
5. LB
Nick Bates for Marcus Riley, Fresno St

Team Previews & Predictions
Boise State | Fresno State | Hawaii | Idaho | Louisiana Tech
Nevada | New Mexico State | San Jose State | Utah State

- CFN All-WAC Team & Top 30 Players
- WAC Team-by-Team Capsules

-
WAC Unit Rankings

- WAC Schedules & Predictions