2020 Division I Conference Preview: Mountain West Conference

CSJ’s Predicted Order of Finish

1. Boise State
2. San Diego State
3. Air Force
4. Wyoming
5. Utah State
6. Fresno State
7. Nevada
8. Hawai’i
9. Colorado State
10. San Jose State
11. New Mexico
12. UNLV

2019 Bowl Results

Conference Record: 4-3

With all the uncertainty going into the 2020 college football season due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the Mountain West Conference originally decided to cancel this fall season but due to more available and rapid testing, the conference changed courses and will begin in a mostly conference only schedule starting tomorrow, Oct. 24th

Air Force, Boise State, and San Diego State will play some non-conference games, however.  Air Force was already obtained an exemption to play its two-armed forces rivals in Army and Navy so it will reduce its schedule to just six MWC games.  Because of this, Boise State and San Diego State will each play a single non-conference game, while playing seven MWC contests.  And Air Force will get a head start on the season with its blow out win Oct. 3rd at home with Navy while having the last regular season date of Dec. 12th as a bye week. 

We have already had one cancelation in Week one with the Colorado State-New Mexico game canceled.  New Mexico athletics director Eddie Nunez announced that the Lobos can not travel to play Colorado State due to restrictions from the state of New Mexico.

With no bye weeks set aside, games will not be made-up should future COVID-19 outbreaks take place by any teams. 

Boise State will play FBS independent and former MWC member BYU on Nov. 7th—the same day that Air Force travels to Army, while San Diego State will do the same with BYU on the last regular season date of Dec. 12th and Air Force will have a bye on that date since it played its eighth game before all the other MWC schools.

The 2020 MWC race will be a little different this year as the conference is abandoning the two-division format of the Mountain and West Divisions it has previously had.  Instead, the two best teams in win percentage will play each other on Dec. 19th for the MWC crown at the higher seeded school. 

Another thing that is different this year will be the home stadiums for some schools.   UNLV will be moving into the shared facility with the NFL’s Las Vegas Raiders in Allegiant Stadium.  San Diego State will play its home games in the Los Angeles area of Carson at Dignity Health Sports Park, who in the past two years was the home of the NFL’s Los Angles Chargers.  San Diego State’s prior home of SDCCU Stadium is starting its teardown after SDSU purchased the stadium and surrounding area from the city of San Diego.  In the same location, new Aztec Stadium will be built with a smaller configuration.  SDSU will play its home games in 2021 also in Carson while the construction finishes for the new stadium to be ready for the 2022 season.

As for the race to the title, Boise State looks to be the clear favorite coming into the season with Air Force, San Diego State and Wyoming looking to be the top opposition. 

Top Conference Games of 2020

The four picks will have a host of games but San Diego State will avoid playing the other three predicted top finishers so it might have an inside track to being one of the top two in the standings at year’s end.  But the other three schools will play each other and below are these dates:

Oct. 31 – Boise State at Air Force

Nov. 14 – Air Force at Wyoming

Dec. 12 – Boise State at Wyoming

This is why is see Boise State playing San Diego State for the Mountain West title on Dec. 19th.  I see the Broncos coming out on top and will be a major consideration for the Group of Five’s top spot to go to a New Year’s Six Bowl game.

CSJ All-MWC 2020 Preseason Team

Boise State QB Hank Bachmeier (Courtesy of BSU Athletics)

Offense

QB – Hank Bachmeier, Boise State

RB – Xazavian Valladay, Wyoming

RB – Charles Williams, UNLV

AP – Khalil Shakir, Boise State

WR – Jared Smart, Hawai’i

WR – Tre Walker, San Jose State

TE – Trey McBride, Colorado State

OT – Teton Saltes, New Mexico

OG – Nolan Laufenberg, Air Force

C – Keegan Cryder, Wyoming

OG – Elijah Johnson, Colorado State

OT – Parker Ferguson, Air Force

Fresno State LB Justin Rice (Courtesy of FSU Athletics)

Defense

DE – Keshawn Banks, San Diego State

DT – Dom Peterson, Nevada

DT – Cameron Thomas, San Diego State

DE – Solomon Byrd, Wyoming

LB – Riley Whimpey, Boise State

LB – Demonte Meeks, Air Force

LB – Justin Rice, Fresno State

CB – Jalen Walker, Boise State

S – Kekaula Kaniho, Boise State    

S – Tariq Thompson, San Diego State

CB – Darren Hall, San Diego State

Boise State Avery Williams (Courtesy of BSU Athletics)

Special Teams

PK – Brandon Talton, Nevada

P – Ryan Stonehouse, Colorado State

KR – Savon Scarver, Utah State

PR – Avery Williams, Boise State

Mountain West Key Player Opting Out of the 2020 Season

One key MWC player is sitting out the season due to COVID-19 reasons and instead is getting ready for the 2021 NFL draft.

Colorado State

WR Warren Jackson

Jackson was the Mountain West’s top returning receiver after catching 77 passes for 1,119 yards and eight touchdowns last fall. Jackson opted to enter the NFL Draft originally when the MWC canceled its season.

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