We’re only a few weeks away from the start of the 2015 NCAA football season and excitement is definitely building for the return of one of America’s favorite sports. One of the leagues to watch this season is the Mountain West Conference. All eyes will be on the Boise State Broncos as they look to defend the title they won so convincingly last season.
2015 Mountain West Season Wins Preview
Boise State Broncos
2014 Record: 12-2 (7-1)
Predicted Record: 12-1 (8-0)
The Boise State Broncos’ first season under head coach Bryan Harsin was a tremendous success. The Broncos won an incredible 12 games last year, including that famous 38-30 triumph over Arizona in the Fiesta Bowl. With 17 starters returning this year, the Broncos are well-equipped to record another double-digit win season.
[sc:NCAA240banner ]Their offense will need to make some adjustments, though, with the departures of quarterback Grant Hedrick and tailback Jay Ajayi. The two players accounted for 89.1 percent of the team’s yards and 92.4 percent of the Broncos’ offensive touchdowns. Expected to take Hedrick’s place under center this year is Ryan Finley.
He played sparingly in five games last season, completing 12 of 27 passes for 161 yards with two touchdowns and one interception. He showed some promise, though, as a senior at Paradise Valley, completing 270 of 424 passes for a state-leading 3,442 yards with 35 touchdowns and only eight interceptions.
Utah State Aggies
2014 Record: 10-4 (6-2)
Predicted Record: 8-4 (7-1)
The Utah State Aggies overcame a rash of injuries to hit 10 wins last season. It’s all down to head coach Matt Wells who has done a marvelous job in succeeding Gary Andersen. Ever since Wells took over the coaching reins, the Aggies have won a total of 19 games. Utah State even grabbed its third straight bowl win last December, beating UTEP 21-6.
Expected to lead the Aggies’ charge this year is the returning Chuckie Keeton. The former Heisman dark horse quarterback will look to rediscover his 2012 form wherein he recorded 3,373 passing yards and 619 rushing yards. He injured his surgically repaired left knee last season.
Colorado State Rams
2014 Record: 10-3 (6-2)
Predicted Record: 8-4 (6-2)
Colorado State had its best season since 2002 (they went 10-4 then), but there’s plenty of uncertainty with regards to the Rams’ football program heading into the new campaign. Quarterback Garrett Grayson, who broke Colorado State’s passing record, is now gone, as is last year’s leading rusher Dee Hart. The Rams also have a new coach in Mike Bobo who replaced the Florida-bound Jim McElwain.
Even with those changes in the squad, the Rams will still be a tough team to beat with receiver Rashard Higgins returning this season. He led the nation in receiving yards (1,750) and touchdown catches (17) last year.
Air Force Falcons
2014 Record: 10-3 (5-3)
Predicted Record: 7-5 (5-3)
The Falcons surprised football observers when they soared to a 10-win season last year. They even recorded a Bowl victory, beating Western Michigan in the Idaho Potato Bowl. Their success last year all stems from the leadership of Troy Calhoun. Under his guidance, the Falcons unleashed one of the nation’s top rushing attacks. Ait Force was sixth in the nation in rushing offense last season, averaging 273.1 yards per game.
The Falcons are expected to dominate with their ground game once again this season with Jacobi Owens returning this year. He broke the 1,000-yard mark last year before suffering a season-ending injury to his right foot. Another key factor to the Falcons’ success last season was their punishing defense. After allowing an average of 40 points per game in 2013, the Falcons sliced that number to just 24.2 points last year. If they show that same dedication on the defensive end, they stand a good chance of matching their performance last year.
2014 Record: 4-8 (2-6)
Predicted Record: 5-7 (3-5)
Craig Bohl enters his second season as Wyoming’s head coach with a huge amount of pressure riding on his shoulders. The Cowboys underperformed last year, finishing with a woeful 4-8 record. That’s the first time in five seasons that a Bohl-coached team didn’t finish with a winning slate. That being said, the Cowboys are expected to improve this season with the team now more familiar with Bohl’s offensive schemes.
There will be a new quarterback for Wyoming, though, with senior Cameron Coffman now calling the shots for the Cowboys. The former Indiana QB completed 60.7 percent of his passes for 2,734 yards with 15 touchdowns and 11 interceptions as a sophomore with the Hoosiers in 2012. He struggled to get some playing time, though, in his junior year for Indiana, as he appeared in just three games.
New Mexico Lobos
2014 Record: 4-8 (2-6)
Predicted Record: 4-8 (2-6)
It has been eight years since the Lobos last appeared in a bowl game. That could all change this season with New Mexico being handed a favorable schedule. For the Lobos to pull off that feat, though, they need their running game to be in full force once again. The Lobos ranked fourth in the nation in rushing offense, averaging 310.4 yards per game last year.
Four offensive linemen with starting experience will return this season for the Lobos, as does 1,000-yard rusher Jhurell Pressley. They can’t do it all alone, though. The Lobos need to complement that fantastic rushing attack with a somewhat respectable passing game. The onus is on quarterback Lamar Jordan to improve on that department this year. He completed 53 percent of his passes last season with six touchdowns and five interceptions.
San Diego State Aztecs
2014 Record: 7-6 (5-3)
Predicted Record: 8-5 (6-2)
San Diego State’s chances this season will greatly hinge on the performance of Maxwell Smith. The former Kentucky QB gives the Aztecs an experienced leader as they look to improve on their 7-6 record last year. That might have been a winning record, but it was the first time in five years that the Aztecs failed to record at least eight wins in a single season.
For the Aztecs to soar to new heights this year, they need another superb season from running back Donnel Pumphrey. He rushed for a school-record 1,867 yards and 20 touchdowns last year. Defense will also play a key part in their campaign this season. The Aztecs allowed just 19.8 points per contest last year. Leading the way for San Diego State in that department is Calvin Munson. The outside linebacker had four sacks, four interceptions and 10.5 tackles last season.
Nevada Wolf Pack
2014 Record: 7-6 (4-4)
Predicted Record: 5-7 (4-4)
Nevada surpassed expectations last season with a postseason berth in Brian Polian’s second year in charge. However, he will have a tough task ahead as there is plenty of uncertainty at the quarterback position. Cody Fajardo, one of the key players for Nevada last year, has already graduated. He was just the second Nevada player to reach 9,000 pass yards and 3,000 rush yards in his career.
Fajardo’s presence under center will surely be missed. Junior Tyler Stewart is the current favorite to fill in the huge shoes left by Fajardo. He completed 21-of-37 passes for 251 yards and three touchdowns in his career.
Fresno State Bulldogs
2014 Record: 6-8 (5-3)
Predicted Record: 6-6 (5-3)
The Fresno State Bulldogs need a new Derek Carr, and fast. Shaky quarterback play was the main reason behind the Bulldogs’ struggles last year as they stumbled to a 6-8 record. They became the only bowl-eligible team other than the 2011 UCLA Bruins to finish an FBS season with a losing slate. To add insult to injury, the Bulldogs have also lost their last six Bowl games.
To improve on that mark this season, they need to get their offense firing again. Expected to play a crucial role for the Bulldogs this year is senior tailback Marteze Waller. He was phenomenal for Fresno State last season, rushing for 1,368 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Bulldogs also need to bolster a defense that got burned for 32.4 points and 456 yards per game last season.
San Jose State Spartans
2014 Record: 3-9 (2-6)
Predicted Record: 3-9 (2-6)
To say that the San Jose State Spartans offense disappointed late last season would be a severe understatement. The Spartans lost their last six games last year, scoring only 14 points in their last three outings. For the season, San Jose State averaged just 19.3 points per game. Joe Gray remains the starting quarterback this year, but his leash will definitely be short. He threw for 2,305 yards with 11 touchdowns and nine interceptions last season.
Offense may be a big question mark for San Jose State, but certainly not its defense. The Spartans were spectacular on the defensive end last year. They led the nation in pass defense in 2014. The Spartans were also third in the Mountain West conference in yards allowed.
Hawaii Rainbow Warriors
2014 Record: 4-9 (3-5)
Predicted Record: 3-9 (2-6)
It’s definitely make-or-break time for head coach Norm Chow as he enters his fourth year with the Warriors. The pressure is on Chow to deliver this season with this squad appearing to be his most talented yet in his short stint here.
For Chow to succeed this year, he needs Max Wittek to be firing on all cylinders right from the get-go. The former USC quarterback will be Chow’s fifth different play-caller here in Hawaii. The main difference now is that Wittek will employ the up-tempo offense of new coordinator Don Bailey. He guided the Idaho State Bengals to the top of the passing charts in 2014. The Bengals averaged 348.1 passing yards per game last season. If he can bring that same dynamic offense to Hawaii, the sky’s definitely the limit for the Rainbow Warriors.
2014 Record: 2-11 (1-7)
Predicted Record: 1-11 (0-8)
After enduring another woeful season, the UNLV Rebels decided it was time for a change. They replaced former coach Bobby Hauck with highly-successful high school coach Tony Sanchez. It’s a big-time gamble for the Rebels, but they feel he is the man who can finally turn around UNLV’s flagging fortunes.
Sanchez will look to improve a Rebel offense that averaged just 21.9 points per game last season (104th in the entire nation). It’s crucial for Sanchez that senior quarterback Blake Decker improve on his form this year. He threw more interceptions (18) than touchdowns (15) last year, and only had a 46.9 QB rating.
Boise State successfully defends its Mountain West title. Create a betting account now and cash in on all the NCAA football action.[sc:NCAA490banner ]
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