Looking forward to the college football season which starts next week, it is time to predict how the final season the Mountain West as we know will play out. Most people will agree with me that TCU will win the conference, and has a great chance to go unbeaten again, and bust the BCS again. This could be the year the little guys have been waiting for. I predict that either Boise State or TCU will be in the national championship game. Most likely Boise State because of their schedule, and the fact that they are already ranked ahead of TCU.
Of course the teams we really care about are BYU and Utah. I predict they will finish 2nd and 3rd again this year with Air Force narrowly on their heels. To be thorough in my predictions for BYU and Utah, I decided to analyze each game on their respective schedules. Here is how I see 2010 going down -
Utah v. Pitt – W (1-0) Pitt is an exciting match-up for Utah. The Panthers are favored to win the Big East, and will be ranked better than the Utes in preseason polls. The game is deserving of all the hype, but this truly is not a favorable match-up for Pitt. Pitt’s run-first offense, behind an unproven O-line and a new QB will play right into Utah’s defensive strengths. The Utes will have to work on offense to score, but I expect an impressive win.
BYU v. Washington – L (0-1) This is another exciting match-up, and a tough game to call. Bottom line is, I believe in the Sark. Steve Sarkisian will have his Huskies well conditioned and ready for battle on opening weekend. This is not the same UW team the Cougars saw last year. I don’t know how good BYU’s offense will be at the start of the season, especially considering a two QB system, but what I do know is that it will be conservative and predictable, and I am predicting upset.
Utah v. UNLV – W (2-0) UNLV won’t be up to the challenge this year, the home winning streak is extended to 19 as Utah wins easily at home.
BYU @ Air Force – W (1-1) AFA is getting a lot of respect in preseason conversations. The fact is, the Falcons often have one of the toughest option style offenses in the nation, and they are primed for a good season defensively as well. They will have high hopes to beat the Cougars in week 2. Not gonna happen. BYU knows how to handle the Falcons as well as anyone. It will be a back-and-forth battle, but BYU will pull it out in the 4th quarter.
Utah @ New Mexico – W (3-0) The Lobos haven’t done much to improve on last year’s dismal season. It will be a walk in the park for the Utes.
BYU @ Florida State – L (1-2) Last year’s game in Provo was not a fluke (as much as Cougar fans want to believe it was). The Noles game-planned perfectly for that game on offense, and even though they made some coaching changes in the off-season, the offensive coordinator is the same. And this year they have the home field advantage, more experience, and more talent. It doesn’t look good for the Cougs.
Utah v. San Jose State – W (4-0) Last season the Utes traveled to San Jose State and got more of a fight from the Spartans than they probably expected. This year Utah is at home and they will be ready to put the Spartans in their place.
BYU v. Nevada – W (2-2) The Wolfpack posted daunting offensive stats last season. 1st in rushing yards and 6th in points scored in the entire nation. That said, Nevada’s only out of conference win came at home against UNLV. Big whoop. And they ended the season by getting blasted in their bowl game by Notre Dame 35-0. Oh, and they had a losing record on the road. No contest.
BYU @ Utah State – W (3-2) The Aggies are emerging out of the ranks of the most laughable college football programs in the nation. And the BYU game is always their biggest game of the year, so they will play the Cougars tough, as usual. But they will lose, as usual.
Utah @ Iowa State W – (5-0) The Cyclones will be lead in 2010 by a senior at QB, and they are coming off a bowl victory against Minnesota, but they are still expected to finish at the bottom of the Big 12 North. They will be outmatched on both sides of the ball by Utah. It will be an impressive road win for the Utes.
BYU v. San Diego State – W (4-2) The Aztecs should improve on last years 4-8 season, but don’t expect them to compete with the Cougars in Provo. Homecoming won’t bring embarrassment this season.
Utah @ Wyoming – W (6-0) This game marks the start of the real meat of Utah’s schedule in my opinion. Wyoming is not slouch, but Witt should have his team ready to go in to Laramie and take care of the Cowboys.
BYU @ TCU – L (4-3) Maybe next year.
Utah v. Colorado State – W (7-0) This has potential to be a trap game between to tough road games for the Utes, but I don’t see the Rams being able to beat Utah through 4 quarters. The Utes remain unbeaten and are climbing in poles.
BYU v. Wyoming – W (5-3) Home field advantage… means nothing in this game. Like Air Force, Wyoming has not beaten BYU since 2003. The Cowboys have not even scored on the Cougars since 2007. It won’t be a shutout in 2010, in fact I think it will be a close game, but BYU comes out on top yet again.
Utah @ Air Force – L (7-1) By now the Utes are likely a top 10 team with their toughest games ahead of them. In a low scoring defensive battle in Colorado Springs, the Falcons will end Utah’s hopes of an unbeaten season.
Utah v. TCU – L (7-2) It will take a repeat of 2008’s unlikely comeback and last minute score for Utah to claim victory over TCU in 2010. The Frogs are going to be too good on both sides of the ball this season for that to happen.
BYU v. UNLV – W (6-3) The Rebels are far outmatched against the top half of Mountain West. Chalk it up as an easy win for the Cougars.
Utah @ Notre Dame – W (8-2) I’m completely excited anytime the Utes or Cougars get to play in the Mecca of college football. I can’t wait. It’s hard to say exactly what Notre Dame will be this season behind a new head coach and new starting QB. I think they will be pretty good, my guess is 6-3 coming in to the Utah game. They always play a really tough schedule, so if they are having a winning season you know they are good. That said, Kyle Whittingham’s Utah teams have proven that they can travel and get pumped up for big games. I will give the edge to the Utes in this one. Did I mention I’m totally stoked for this game?
BYU @ Colorado State – W (7-3) BYU will have found somewhat of a groove by this point in the season, and the Rams will be left in their dust.
Utah @ San Diego State – W (9-2) The Aztecs will hope to get a battered and beaten Utah team in San Diego and catch them in a trap game between Notre Dame and BYU, but they are not good enough to capitalize on that position.
BYU v. New Mexico – W (8-3) If the Lobos even show up at Lavell Edwards Stadium it should be considered a moral victory.
BYU @ Utah Ahhhhh yeah! I already texted Austin Collie and asked him to pray that the rivalry will continue after this season. So let’s pick a winner in 2010 –
QB – advantage Utah (probably)
O-line – advantage BYU
Running backs – Utah
Receivers – BYU
D-line – Utah
DBs – Utah
Tough one to call. Evenly matched offenses, but the Utes have the double advantage on D. Add home field advantage to that and the Utah has a recipe for victory.
So here is how the Mountain West stacks up at the end of the regular season –
1. TCU – 12-0 (8-0)
2 Utah – 10-2 (6-2)
3. BYU – 8-4 (6-2)
4. AFA – 8-4 (6-2)
5. Wyo – 6-6 (4-4)
6. SDSU – 6-6 (3-5)
7. UNLV – 3-9 (2-6)
8. CSU – 3-9 (1-7)
9. UNM – 0-12 (0-8)
With TCU going back to a BCS bowl, Utah will get the Vegas Bowl, and BYU the Poinsettia Bowl. Air Force and Wyoming will get bowl invites as well.