College football preview: Mountain West Conference at a glance

Published August 29, 2009 6:00 am
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2009, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Football Power Rankings

1. TCU (2-1) Lost some studs on defense, but still powerful

2. BYU (3-1) If Cougs get to league play at 3-1, watch out

3. Utah (3-1) Some say defense is better than last year

4. Air Force (10-1) Best chance of joining the Big Three

5. UNLV (20-1) Offense will keep Rebels in a lot of games

6. Colorado State (20-1) Bowl game winners have momentum

7. New Mexico (30-1) Problems in Albuquerque before season starts

8. San Diego State (50-1) New coach Hoke adds needed toughness

9. Wyoming (50-1) Tough to recover when you are bucked off early

Big Conference Games:

» TCU at Air Force, Oct. 10 Before Frogs see red, they travel to wild blue yonder

» BYU at UNLV, Oct. 10 Rebels were oh-so-close to stunning Cougs in '08

» Utah at Colorado State, Oct. 10 Utes will be coming off a bye week

» TCU at BYU, Oct. 24 Cougs want revenge after last year's humiliating loss

» Wyoming at Utah, Oct. 31 Too bad Joe Glenn won't return for trick or treat

» Utah at TCU, Nov. 14 Have Falcons found a reliable FG kicker yet?

» UNLV at Air Force, Nov. 14 Battle for fourth place, or game with title implications?

» Utah at BYU, Nov. 28 Utes always play well in Provo, despite record

Top 10 players:

Max Hall, QB, BYU » Cougars have always excelled when they've had a senior quarterback

Harvey Unga, RB, BYU » Rushed for 1,132 yards, 11 touchdowns last year

Matt Asiata, RB, Utah » Will be the go-to guy in Utah's offense this season

Jerry Hughes, DE, TCU » Returned for senior season with eye on the top prize

Dennis Pitta, TE, BYU » Mackey Award candidate will be needed in Collie's absence

Stevenson Sylvester, LB, Utah » Could push Hughes for defensive player of year honors

Rafael Priest, DB, TCU » Might be the league's top all-around athlete

Koa Misi, DE, Utah » Phenomenal pass rusher slowed by back injury in fall camp

Ryan Wolfe, WR, UNLV » Poised to become the leading receiver in school history

Zane Beadles, OL, Utah » Look for Utes to run behind their heavy lifter all season

Others to Watch:

» John Fletcher, DL, Wyoming

» Rashaun Greer, WR, Colorado State

» Vincent Brown, WR, San Diego State

» Nick Charles, OL, Air Force

» Erik Cook, OL, New Mexico

» Jeremy Kerley, PR, TCU

» Jan Jorgensen, DE, BYU

» Robert Johnson, DB, Utah

» Chris Thomas, DB, Air Force

» Nick Sanders, DB, TCU

» Andrew George, TE, BYU


Top Story Line » The Big Three -- BYU, TCU and Utah -- have dominated the league the past five years. Can another team or two step up and add more credibility to a conference yearning for respectability?

Biggest Questions » Seeing as how the past five conference champions all have gone undefeated, will it take another perfect record to claim the league this year? And how will the three new coaches at Wyoming, New Mexico and San Diego State fare in their inaugural seasons?

Toughest Test » No question about it, BYU's opener Sept. 5 against Oklahoma at Cowboys Stadium is the league's biggest nonconference encounter, but not by much. Wyoming plays host to Texas a week later, also a huge matchup for the Mountain West.

Hardest Hit » No one team lost an inordinately high number of players, but BYU will certainly miss record-setting receiver Austin Collie and Utah will be hurt with the loss of defensive end Paul Kruger and safety Sean Smith. New Mexico and Wyoming lost some key players to transfers and/or suspensions.

Top Transfers » None of any note, really, unless BYU quarterback Max Hall goes down and has to be replaced by USU transfer Riley Nelson. TCU running back Ed Wesley is the preseason freshman of the year.

Against the BCS » Mountain West teams will face teams from BCS automatic-qualifying conferences 14 times in the regular season. BYU, Utah, Wyoming, New Mexico and TCU face two BCS opponents apiece.

Team Stats: Team by team

TeamScoring OffenseScoring DefensePassing OffensePassing DefenseRushing OffenseRushing DefenseTurnover Ratio
Air Force26.822.282.2199.9266.9141.51.0
New Mexico21.122.8131.3213.5208.2122.20.25

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