Mountain West Football 2015 Predictions

Complete MW preview and predictions.

It’s a new year, but there’s a similar theme for the Mountain West in 2015. Boise State is once again the favorite to win the league crown, as the Broncos have a good chance to run the table and finish unbeaten this year. But Boise State will have competition from Utah State, Colorado State and San Diego State.

 

The balance of power in the Mountain West is clearly in the Mountain Division this season, with San Diego State the frontrunner from the West Division. All six of the teams from the Mountain Division rank inside of the top 100 of Athlon’s final 128 projections for 2015. However, on the other side, the West Division has only two teams ranked inside of the top 100.

 

Athlon projects a San Diego State-Boise State matchup in the 2015 Mountain West Championship. Below are five storylines to watch, followed by full conference predictions for this season.

 

5 Key Questions That Will Shape the Mountain West in 2015

 

1. How Will Boise State Reload at QB and RB?

The Broncos usually have little trouble finding the next standouts at quarterback and running back. But these positions could make-or-break Boise State’s run at an appearance in one of college football’s top bowl games. Ryan Finley exited the spring as the frontrunner to replace Grant Hedrick at quarterback, while Jeremy McNichols and Cory Young are slated as the favorites to replace Jay Ajayi at running back. Stanford transfer Kelsey Young will also factor into the mix at running back, while Finley will be pushed in the fall by Thomas Stuart and Brett Rypien for the starting quarterback spot. How fast will coach Bryan Harsin develop the right answers at two critical positions?

Related: Complete No. 1 to 128 College Football Rankings for 2015

 

2. Transfer Quarterbacks

There’s a lot of uncertainty surrounding quarterback play in the Mountain West for the 2015 season. Utah State’s Chuckie Keeton is one of the few proven options in this league, as Boise State, Colorado State, San Diego State, Nevada and Fresno State will have a new starting quarterback in 2015. The uncertainty extends to the teams projected to finish at the bottom of the Mountain West, as Hawaii, San Jose State and UNLV are looking for answers under center. Help is on the way in the form of transfers for some teams, as Wyoming (Cameron Coffman, Indiana), Hawaii (Max Wittek, USC) and San Diego State (Maxwell Smith, Kentucky) left Power 5 programs for a chance to start.

 

3. Back from Injury at Utah State

Utah State has been hit hard by injuries over the last two seasons, but the Aggies are an impressive 19-9 under Matt Wells. Getting quarterback Chuckie Keeton and linebacker Kyler Fackrell back to full strength will be huge for Utah State in 2015. Assuming Keeton and Fackrell are at 100 percent this fall, the Aggies should be Boise State’s top competition in the Mountain West. Keeton completed 51 of 92 passes for 426 yards and two scores in three games last season before missing the rest of 2014 with a leg injury. Fackrell suffered a torn ACL in the opener against Tennessee and did not return last year. Getting both players back is a huge boost for Utah State's Mountain West title hopes.

 

4. New Coaches

Two new coaches join the league for 2015, as Colorado State hired Georgia offensive coordinator Mike Bobo to replace Jim McElwain (left for Florida), and UNLV replaced Bobby Hauck with successful high school coach Tony Sanchez. Bobo was one of the SEC’s top coordinators during his stint in Athens and should be a solid hire for the Rams. His top priority this fall will be finding a quarterback to replace Garrett Grayson, but Bobo inherits a solid offensive line and All-American receiver Rashard Higgins. The job is much tougher for Sanchez, as the first-year coach inherits a UNLV program that went 2-11 last season and returns just seven starters. Sanchez is going to need a few years to recruit and rebuild the talent level in the program, but two veteran coordinators (Kent Baer and Barney Cotton) should help his transition from the high school ranks to the FBS level.

 

5. Coaches on the Hot Seat

Is this a make-or-break year for Ron Caragher (SJSU) and Norm Chow (Hawaii)? Both Hawaii and San Jose State have the talent level to exceed last year’s win total, but both teams enter 2015 with plenty of uncertainty. The Spartans led the nation in pass defense in 2014 and third in the conference in yards allowed. However, the offense recorded only 19.3 points per game. The quarterback position is up for grabs this offseason, and the offense needs more punch from a rushing attack ranked near the bottom of the Mountain West. Hawaii hopes USC transfer Max Wittek is the answer under center, but there’s question marks about the offensive line and concerns up front on defense. 

 

Mountain West Conference 2015 Team Previews
Mountain Division
 
National
Rank:
83 25 71 96 51 95
West Division
 
National
Rank:
101 114 91 68 110 122

 

Visit the Athlon Sports Online Store to order a copy of the 2015 National College Football Preview Magazine, which features in-depth analysis and previews for all 128 teams, predictions, rankings and features to prepare for the upcoming year. 

 

Mountain West Conference Predictions for 2015

         
Mountain Division
Rank Team   Projected MW Record Projected Overall Record
1

Boise State

(No. 25)

8-0 12-1
Read the full, in-depth preview of Boise State for 2015.
2

Utah State

(No. 51)

7-1 8-4
Read the full, in-depth preview of Utah State for 2015.
3

Colorado State

(No. 71)

5-3 7-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Colorado State for 2015.
4

Air Force

(No. 83)

5-3 7-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of Air Force for 2015.
5

Wyoming

(No. 95)

3-5 5-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of Wyoming for 2015.
6

New Mexico

(No. 96)

1-7 4-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of New Mexico for 2015.
         
West Division
Rank Team   Projected MW Record Projected Overall Record
1

San Diego State

(No. 68)

6-2 8-5
Read the full, in-depth preview of San Diego State for 2015.
2

Nevada

(No. 91)

5-3 6-6
Read the full, in-depth preview of Nevada for 2015.
3

Fresno State

(No. 101)

4-4 5-7
Read the full, in-depth preview of Fresno State for 2015.
4

San Jose State

(No. 110)

3-5 4-8
Read the full, in-depth preview of San Jose State for 2015.
5

Hawaii

(No. 114)

1-7 3-10
Read the full, in-depth preview of Hawaii for 2015.
6

UNLV

(No. 122)

0-8 1-11
Read the full, in-depth preview of UNLV for 2015.
         
Mountain West Conference Championship
 Boise State over San Diego State 

Mountain West 2015 Superlatives and Season Predictions
  Steven
Lassan
Mitch
Light
David
Fox
Mark
Ross
  @AthlonSteven @AthlonMitch @DavidFox615 @AthlonMarkR
Offensive POY Donnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Donnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Donnel Pumphrey
RB, SDSU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Defensive POY Kamalei Correa
DL, Boise State
Kyler Fackrell
LB, USU
Calvin Munson
LB, SDSU
Nick Vigil
LB, USU
Coach of the Year Bryan Harsin
Boise State
Rocky Long
SDSU
Matt Wells
Utah State
Bryan Harsin
Boise State
Coach on Hot Seat Norm Chow
Hawaii
Norm Chow
Hawaii
Ron Caragher
SJSU
Norm Chow
Hawaii
Top Freshman Cory Young
RB, Boise State
Kanya Bell
WR, SJSU
Cory Young
RB, Boise State
Cory Young
RB, Boise State
Top Newcomer Maxwell Smith
QB, SDSU
Maxwell Smith
QB, SDSU
Dalyn Dawkins
RB, CSU
Dalyn Dawkins
RB, CSU
Sleeper Team New Mexico San Jose State Wyoming San Jose State
Top Coordinator Hire Kevin Clune
DC, USU
Kent Baer
DC, UNLV
Barney Cotton
OC, UNLV
Tyson Summers
DC, CSU
Key Position to Watch Boise State QB/RB Boise State RB BSU backfield Boise State QB/RB
Hardest to Evaluate Fresno State Colorado State Nevada Colorado State
Coach on the Rise Matt Wells
Utah State
Matt Wells
Utah State
Bryan Harsin
Boise State
Matt Wells
Utah State
Must-See Game Boise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Boise State at
Utah State
Breakout Player Dylan
Sumner-Gardner
S, Boise State
Cameron Coffman
QB, Wyoming
LaJuan Hunt
RB, USU
Tyler Ervin
WR/KR, SJSU
Comeback Player Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Chuckie Keeton
QB, USU
Kyler Fackrell
LB, USU

Ranking the Mountain West Coaches for 2015

 

1. Matt Wells, Utah State

2. Craig Bohl, Wyoming

3. Bryan Harsin, Boise State

4. Troy Calhoun, Air Force

5. Rocky Long, San Diego State

 

Five QB Battles to Watch for 2015

 

1. Boise State
Ryan Finley vs. Brett Rypien and Thomas Stuart

 

2. Colorado State
Nick Stevens vs. Coleman Key 

 

3. Fresno State
Zack Greenlee vs. Kilton Anderson and Chason Virgil

 

4. Nevada
Tyler Stewart vs. Dante Mayes and Hunter Fralick

 

5. San Diego State 
Maxwell Smith vs. Christian Chapman and Jake Rodrigues

 

Ranking the Mountain West Running Backs for 2015

 

1. Donnel Pumphrey, San Diego State

2. Marteze Waller, Fresno State

3. Jhurell Pressley, New Mexico 

4. Shaun Wick, Wyoming

5. Jacobi Owens, Air Force

 

The Top 5 Non-Conference Games for 2015

 

1. Washington at Boise State - Sept. 4

2. Utah State at Utah - Sept. 11

3. Air Force at Navy - Oct. 3

4. Boise State at BYU - Sept. 12

5. Utah State at Washington - Sept. 19

 

Key Coordinator Hires for 2015

 

1. Kevin Clune, Defensive Coordinator, Utah State

2. Tyson Summers, Defensive Coordinator, Colorado State

3. Eliah Drinkwitz, Offensive Coordinator, Boise State

4. Kent Baer, Defensive Coordinator, UNLV

5. Al Borges, Offensive Coordinator, San Jose State

 

Top Incoming Freshmen (from 247Sports)

 

1. DeSean Holmes, WR, San Diego State

2. Kanya Bell, WR, San Jose State

3. Brett Rypien, QB, Boise State

4. Kyahva Tezino, LB, San Diego State

5. Tae'on Mason, ATH, San Jose State

6. Chason Virgil, QB, Fresno State

7. Jeremy Kelly, DB, San Jose State

8. Drew Berger, LB, Boise State

9. Akilan Butler, WR, Boise State

10. John Carroll, ATH, San Diego State

More Stories: