Brad’s 2022 College Football Preview- Mountain West Analysis and Predictions

Every summer since 2007 I have created an intricate set of college football predictions for each upcoming season.  This year is no exception, as I will be using my blog over the next few hours to publish my 16th annual college football preview guide which will contain 18 entries in all. The records below reflect each team’s predicted regular season overall record followed by their conference record.  These records include conference title games for the two division champions but exclude bowl games which will be previewed later on in a separate column on this blog.  The teams marked in bold font are the ones predicted to gain bowl eligibility.  Without further ado, here are my predictions for the Mountain West Conference in 2022.

Mountain Division

1Boise State (11-2, 7-1) conference champion

Positional Strength: Defensive Backs

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. BYU (November 5)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Air Force (October 22)

Bottom Line: The Broncos will bounce back from a disappointing 7-5 season in 2020 thanks to an experienced quarterback and defense. It has been 3 years since the Broncos claimed a conference title, and I believe this is this season Boise gets back to the top of the mountain in the Mountain West (no pun intended).

2Utah State (8-4, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Air Force (October 8)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Colorado State (October 15)

Bottom Line: The hire of Blake Anderson paid immediate dividends as he led the Cinderella Aggies to their conference crown in 9 season in his first year at the helm. The magic can’t last forever, though, and even though I think this Utah State team will be very good, they are going to fall short in their quest to defend their MWC title.

3Air Force (10-2, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Offensive Line

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Boise State (October 22)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Utah State (October 8)

Bottom Line: The Falcons have emerged over the past few seasons as the premier service academy, and this experienced will contend for a division title, a 10 win season, and potentially even an undefeated season if they catch a few breaks along the way.

4Colorado State (7-5, 5-3)

Positional Strength: Wide Receiver

Positional Weakness: Defensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Utah State (October 15)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Wyoming (November 12)

Bottom Line: Jay Norvell proved at Nevada that he can flat out coach, and don’t be surprised now that he is in Fort Collins with better facilities and several key transfers, that he brings instant success to this program much like Blake Anderson did last year during his inaugural campaign at Utah State. Now, I don’t think Colorado State wins the conference like Utah State did last year, but I do think they’ll be back in a bowl game for the first time in 5 seasons in 2022.

5Wyoming (3-9, 2-6)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Wide Receiver

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Colorado State (November 12)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at New Mexico (October 8)

Bottom Line: I feel like Craig Bohl’s tenure at Wyoming has been one of the crazier roller coaster ride coaching jobs that you will ever see. When he took over in 2014, he took a bad Wyoming team and made them even worse . However, in 2016-2019, his work paid off and he led the school to three eight win seasons. However, after a bad Covid year in 2020 and a 2-6 conference mark last year, Bohl is coming under scrutiny again. Unfortunately, I don’t think the 2022 season will do much to quiet his critics as the Cowboys have one of the most inexperienced squads in the country on both offense and defense.

6New Mexico (2-10, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Defensive Backs

Positional Weakness: Quarterback

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Wyoming (October 8)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at New Mexico State (October 15)

Bottom Line: The Lobos took a change when they brought in an alum with no head coaching experience to replace Bob Davie in 2020, and the results have not been pretty so far. In fact, this program has slowly become one of the worst in FBS as New Mexico has not won more than six games in a season since 2016! Unfortunately, I expect similar results this season as the talent gap between this team and the rest of the league is becoming quite large.

West Division

1Fresno State (9-4, 6-2) conference runner-up

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Offensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. San Diego State (October 29)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at UNLV (November 12)- upset of the year in the MWC!

Bottom Line: Jake Haener (pictured above) will lead an experienced Bulldog squad to the Mountain West title game where they will give Boise all they can handle on the smurf turf.

2San Diego State (9-3, 6-2)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Defensive Line

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Air Force (November 26)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Fresno State (October 29)

Bottom Line: This division always seems to come down to San Diego State and Fresno (with the exception of San Jose State’s miraculous undefeated covid season in 2020), and this year should be no different. However, in 2022 I have to give Fresno the edge in this division race given that they host the Aztecs and San Diego State is breaking in a new QB and RB. The Aztecs defense will be phenomenal as usual, but this team seems to always have games where they struggle to and I think those problems will continue into this season.

3UNLV (5-7, 4-4)

Positional Strength: Quarterback

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Fresno State (November 12)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at San Jose State (October 8)

Bottom Line: I expect the Rebels to have a breakout season in 2022 as this team was very competitive down the stretch in 2021 and now has an accomplished QB in Tennessee transfer Harrison Bailey. Still, as much as I wanted to pick this team to go bowling this year, I just couldn’t when they have a schedule that features games at Cal, at Notre Dame, at San Deigo State, and at defending conference champion Utah State.

4San Jose State (6-6, 3-5)

Positional Strength: Defensive Line

Positional Weakness: Running Back

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Western Michigan (September 24)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Wyoming (October 1)

Bottom Line: The Spartans will ride key transfers, an experienced defense, and a manageable schedule to bowl eligibility in 2022.

5Nevada (2-10, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Running Back

Positional Weakness: Linebacker

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: at Hawaii (October 15)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: at Northern Illinois (October 8)

Bottom Line: No team, aside from maybe Arizona State, had a worse offseason than the Wolf Pack who lost their head coach and then saw 20 players transfer out of the program. Now, the Pack are one of the most inexperienced teams in the country (only 6 total returning starters) and will struggle to win games in 2022, as they realistically could be an underdog in 10 out of 12 contests this season.

6Hawaii (3-10, 1-7)

Positional Strength: Offensive Line

Positional Weakness: Defensive Backs

Biggest Predicted Win of the Year: vs. Wyoming (October 29)

Worst Predicted Loss of the Year: vs. Nevada (October 15)

Bottom Line: New coach Timmy Chang is a local hero, as he broke all kinds of passing records during his stint as a player in Hawaii from 2000-2004. Nevertheless, it is going to take him a while to make a similar mark as a coach, as this program is in shambles right now and only returns 6 players from last year’s squad.

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