Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, July 2, 2014 at 7:00 PM
Yesterday we kicked off our 2014 summer series of college football conference previews with the Eastern division of the Mountain West (where Boise State and Utah State will battle it out). Today we move West through Nevada, California, and all the way to Hawaii to study the other half.
Fresno State is still heavy favorite to win this group even though they lost star quarterback Derek Carr to graduation. Other teams are also dealing with quarterback issues. And, there’s room for an 11-2 team to fall back to earth and still be the best!
Mountain West “West” Division
2013 Record: 11-2
2013 Rankings: 3 on offense, 95 on defense
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 8 on defense
Head Coach: Tim DeRuyter
Notebook: The beginning of the 2014 season could be very tough for whoever wins the quarterback job. Fresno opens with a bowl rematch against USC…who crushed them in Las Vegas last December. After that it’s a road game at Utah and a home game against Nebraska. But, after that…it’s smooth sailing until a road game in Boise in late October. Fresno will probably be favored in all Mountain West games not played in Boise unless the new offense just can’t get anything going. That’s unlikely in this system.
2013 Record: 4-8
2013 Rankings: 45 on offense, 117 on defense
Returning Starters: 8 on offense, 8 on defense
Head Coach: Brian Polian
Notebook: The Wolfpack of Nevada are the most popular darkhorse pick this summer even though they could only manage a 4-8 record last season. Quarterback Cody Fajardo is the one “sure thing” at quarterback in terms of productivity in the Western half. And, you can see that a lot of starters return on both sides of the ball. Early tests against Washington State and Arizona (both bowl teams from the Pac 12) will give handicappers a much better sense of whether or not this group can dethrone Fresno State.
San Diego State
2013 Record: 8-5
2013 Rankings: 51 on offense, 53 on defense
Returning Starters: 6 on offense, 4 on defense
Head Coach: Rocky Long
Notebook: The Aztecs are a very tough team to figure. They started horribly last season (with a loss to Eastern Illinois!). Then, they managed to be “inconsistent” despite playing a lot of overtime games. Hard to imagine a team that could go overtime with both Boise State and horrible Hawaii…but SDSU did that in consecutive weeks. That 8-5 record in 2013 was really 5-4-4 at the end of regulation. Two of the wins were over poor New Mexico schools. September games at North Carolina and Oregon State may set the tone for a possible Cinderella run.
2013 Record: 7-6
2013 Rankings: 60 on offense, 97 on defense
Returning Starters: 7 on offense, 5 on defense
Head Coach: Bobby Hauck
Notebook: The Rebels stunned the football world last year by reaching a bowl game…but then were promptly squashed by North Texas 36-14 in Dallas. This tells you how bad things had gotten last year in the Mountain West…UNLV went 5-3 in league play! They have some workable options at quarterback (by league standards), and miss both Boise State and Utah State in the cross-divisional schedule rotation. That gives them a shot to matter in what could turn out to be a wide open division.
San Jose State
2013 Record: 6-6
2013 Rankings: 15 on offense, 103 on defense
Returning Starters: 4 on offense, 7 on defense
Head Coach: Ron Caragher
Notebook: San Jose could only manage a .500 record last year even though they had a quarterback (David Fales) who was getting rave reviews from NFL scouts. He’s graduated…which suggests that the team could really crash and burn this season. The offense is almost starting from scratch. The defense has some experience, but was awful last year. Keep an eye on this group as fade material…though an early-September loss at Auburn may show the world how bleak things are going to be.
2013 Record: 1-11
2013 Rankings: 57 on offense, 115 on defense
Returning Starters: 5 on offense, 5 on defense
Head Coach: Norm Chow
Notebook: Coach Chow is probably a great guy. But, the game of football passed him by many years ago. He kept proving that as a failure at offensive coordinator in a variety of places. He gets to end his career in the right place…but you REALLY have to be bad to go 1-11 as a Mountain West conference team…and then be projected for a another 11-loss season. Not a major college program any more.
That wraps up the Mountain West…with the survivor in the East between Boise State and Utah State likely to be the betting favorite in the championship game come December. Football season will be here before you know it…so build your bankrolls with daily baseball! You can always purchase game day BEST BETS right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call us in the office during normal business hours at 1-888-777-4155.
It’s back to baseball tomorrow for July Fourth. Then, our college football schedule resumes over the weekend with Conference USA. Here’s the NOTEBOOK schedule for the next several days.
Friday: July 4 Baseball Extravaganza
Saturday: College Football…Conference USA “East” Preview
Sunday: College Football…Conference USA “West” Preview
Monday: MLB Rivalry Preview (either Baltimore/Washington or SF/Oakland)
Tuesday: MLB Series Preview…LA Dodgers at Detroit
Wednesday: College Football…Mid-American “East” Preview
Thursday: College Football…Mid-American “West” Preview
You college football fans should make plans to be with us every Tuesday-Wednesday and Saturday-Sunday for conference previews. Baseball will shine on Fridays, Mondays, and Tuesdays because that’s when marquee series begin.
Get the information you need to win here in the NOTEBOOK, then GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!