Fresno State Tim DeRuyter, the former defensive coordinator at Texas A-M, takes over for Pat Hill who was the head coach for 15 years He inherits a club with 14 returning starters, including Quarterback Derek Carr. Last year, he threw for 3,544 yards with 26 TDs and only nine picks. Running Back Robbie Rouse gained 1,607 yards last year and he’s back. I predict big improvement in an offense that averaged 28.5 PPG last year. Most of the defense is back and I expect DeRuyter to make a difference on this side of the ball! I forecast BIG improvement from the 35.8 PPG allowed last year! The Bulldogs are my surprise pick to win the Mountain West!
Big game: October 13 at Boise State My prediction – 8-4
Wyoming The Cowboys welcome back the 2011 Conference Freshman of the Year, Quarterback Brett Smith. I look for continued improvement from the offense that averaged 26.1 PPG last season. They do lose 3 starters on the line, but have recruited well the past couple years here. On defense, seven starters return, led by Tackle Mike Purcell and Safety Luke Anderson. I forecast improvement to the 27.8 PPG allowed last year. Wyoming has a favorable schedule, and a win at home against Boise State could put the Cowboys in a great spot to win the conference.
Big game: October 27, host Boise State My prediction 9-3
Nevada Chris Ault returns for his 28th campaign as the head coach here, and has lead the Wolfpack to five straight bowl games! The offense suffered some big losses and only five starters return, led by Quarterback Cody Fajardo. The Pack averaged 31.7 PPG last year, and should come close to that again. The schedule is tough, but I expect a strong performance down the stretch and another bowl game!
Big game: September 22 at Hawaii. My prediction 8-4
Boise State I might be the only guy around who thinks Boise drops this far. The Broncos must replace four-year starter at Quarterback Kellen Moore, Running Back Doug Martin and his 1,375 rushing yards, Wide Receiver Tyler Shoemaker’s 16 TDs, and three starting linemen., l big guys up QB Joe Southwick will have his hands full. The news is perhaps even more devastating on the defensive side as only two defensive backs return. Chris Petersen has done a great job with this program, but this season will be a challenge. Boise has road games at Michigan State and Southern Miss, and hosts BYU
Big game: October 13 at Fresno State My prediction 6-6
San Diego State The Aztecs lose Running Back Ronnie Hillman who had 1,784 rushing yards and QB Ryan Lindlay who threw for 3,153 yards and 23 TDs. Oregon State transfer Ryan Katz steps in at quarterback, joining six returning starters. I expect close to the same production of last year’s 29.8 PPG. Six starters return on defense, the secondary will be the strength.
Big game: October 20 at Nevada My prediction – 7-5
Colorado State Jim McElwain takes over at the helm, inheriting a team with 15 returning starters, the most in the conference. Most of the offense is back and the defense has plenty of experience back from last year. Defensive Ends John Froland and C. J. James and Linebacker Shaqui Barnett are all potential All-Conference candidates! I expect big improvement over last year’s numbers.
Big game: November 3 at Wyoming My prediction – 6-6
Hawaii After 39 years as an assistant in both college and NFL ranks, Norm Chow finally gets a head coaching position. Chow is a brilliant offensive mind and a quarterback guru of sorts. Heavy losses on both sides of the ball, will keep the Rainbows from making too much noise this season. Look for Chow to hit the recruiting trail hard, in an effort to convince players to come to Hawaii.
Big game: October 6 at San Diego State My prediction – 5-7
Nevada-Las Vegas (UNLV) The Rebels haven’t been to a bowl game since the 2000 season and my guess is that streak will be extended. The entire offensive line needs to be replaced along with the top three receivers, and the quarterback. The only constant is Running Back Tim Cornett who ran for 691 yards last season. The Rebels averaged 17.3 PPG last year, and I would be surprised if they surpass that this year. The defense returns only five starters, and I hope they can improve on the 40.4 PPG allowed last year.
Big game: August 30 hosting Minnesota My prediction – 4-8
New Mexico I’ve always been a big Bob Davie fan, and as he takes over a program that has won a grand total of three games in the past three years, I am going to go out on a limb and call for a four-win season! I am going to step out on a limb and call for a 4 win season! The Lobos averaged only 12.0 PPG last year, and they have to improve on that. Davie is a defensive minded coach, has eight starters back and three impact transfers, and should improve a defense that allowed a whopping 41.7 PPG.
Big game: November 17 hosting Nevada My prediction 4-8
Air Force This is where everyone will call me crazy. The Falcons have been to a bowl for five straight seasons, have continually played the big boys tough, and have continually been a factor in league play. This year, things will change, because only three starters return on each side of the ball. The offensive line averages only 255 pounds, the defense loses eight starters and the Falcons just won’t have the offensive fire power to compensate.
Big game: October 6 hosting Navy My prediction – 2-10