2019 MWC Preview

August 12, 2019 by CFP Staff

Last year, the Fresno State Bulldogs captured their first Mountain West title since 2013 with a 19-16 overtime win at Boise State. It marked just the 9th home loss by the Broncos on the "Smurf Turf" since 1999 (121-9).

Boise State, Fresno State and San Diego State have captured every Mountain West title since 2012. In fact, all three were co-champs in 2012, the year before the conference began staging its own championship playoff.

In fact, the only other existing member to have ever won a MWC title is Colorado State back in 2002 and 2000. Those past champs which are no longer members are TCU 2005, 2009, 2010, 2011), Utah (2003, 2004, 2008), and BYU (2001, 2006, 2007). The first year of the conference in 1999 saw a 3-way tie with BYU, Colorado State and Utah.

Last year, Fresno State captured their first title since 2013 with a 19-16 overtime win in Boise. It marked just the 9th home loss by the Broncos on the "Smurf Turf" since 1999 (121-9).

This year, Boise State is once again the Mountain division favorite, according to the Congrove Computer Rankings at CollegeFootballPoll.com. The Broncos open the season in Jacksonville versus Florida State as a 12.13-point computer underdog, but are then favored in every game except the October 19 contest at BYU.

Utah State takes a major step back from its 11-2 campaign of a year ago, but is still picked to finish second in the division at 7-5 overall and 6-2 in the conference. Gary Andersen's return to Logan won't be easy in the first year as inherits QB Jordan Love as the only returning offensive starter among the backfield and receivers. Andersen was the Aggies' head coach from 2009-2012. When he was hired the first time around, Utah State had just finished an 11th-straight losing season and had been to 5 bowl games in its history (none since 1997). He wound up going 26-24, including 11-2 in his last season, with a 1-1 bowl record. His OC, Matt Wells, took his place and he led the Aggies to five more bowl games before he was announced as Texas Tech's new head coach on November 29. Wells left with a 44-34 record in his 6 seasons, including 10-2 this year. Utah State named assistant head coach Frank Maile as interim head coach for the New Mexico Bowl where the Aggies rolled over North Texas 52-13.

When Andersen departed Utah State in 2012, he did so to replace Bret Bielema at Wisconsin where he went 20-7 before surprisingly opting to leave for Oregon State after just two seasons. The situation with the Beavers didn't work out and he was just 7-23 when he and the school mutually agreed to part ways halfway through the 2017 season. Andersen spent the 2018 season as the assistant head coach at Utah.

The computer has Air Force posting a 3-win improvement over its 5-7 season in 2018. But while the Falcons are picked to go 8-4 overall, they are handed 3 conference losses to finish behind the Aggies.

The surprise in the computer's projections for 2019 is the expected success for Hawaii. The Warriors are favored to out-battle San Diego State and Fresno State for the West division title, going 9-4 overall and 7-1 in conference play. Hawaii gets the Aztecs and Bulldogs at Aloha Stadium in Honolulu. If everything plays out as predicted, San Diego State's visit in the final regular season conference game on November 23 would be for the West division title.

Don't expect Hawaii's conference success to transfer over to the national stage. The Warriors are underdogs in the first three games of the season, all versus Power 5 conference schools. They are picked to fall by 7.79 points at home to Arizona on August 24, by 1.39 at home to Oregon State two weeks later, and then by 22.64 points on their first trip to the mainland to face Washington.

Fresno State takes a major step backward with just 9 starters returning, including only 3 on offense.

Overall, the computer ranks the Mountain West ahead of only the MAC and CUSA. The conference's roster of 12 teams have an average power rating of 53.51 which is 28.40 points behind the average program in the SEC.

2019 Projected Order of Finish

MWC Mountain

  Team W-L CW-CL Rank Power SOS
1 Boise State 10-2 8-0 30 63.63 109
2 Utah State 7-5 6-2 65 60.14 75
3 Air Force 8-4 5-3 58 55.59 125
4 Wyoming 4-8 3-5 100 52.22 112
5 New Mexico 2-10 1-7 121 41.41 101
6 Colorado State 1-11 0-8 126 44.10 111

MWC West

  Team W-L CW-CL Rank Power SOS
1 Hawaii 9-4 7-1 53 61.39 87
2 San Diego State 8-4 6-2 59 55.46 113
3 Fresno State 7-5 5-3 67 57.35 96
4 Nevada 6-6 4-4 83 56.45 105
5 UNLV 3-9 2-6 109 50.91 79
6 San Jose State 2-10 1-7 120 43.42 119

*-Championship: Boise State over Hawaii

Conference Media Poll

First-place votes in parenthesis

Mountain Division
1. Boise State (15) - 120 points
2. Utah State (6) - 108 points
3. Air Force - 73 points
4. Wyoming - 66 points
5. Colorado State - 52 points
6. New Mexico - 22 points

West Division
1. Fresno State (17) - 122 points
2. San Diego State (3) - 106 points
3. Nevada - 74 points
4. Hawaii (1) - 67 points
5. UNLV - 51 points
6. San Jose State - 21 points

Predicted Champion: None selected.