by Bradford Christensen
As a weekly feature, I'll be posting the "Mountain West Round-Up" Conference Power Rankings by evaluating each team based on their performance, resume and other factors. With a few days until the season starts, now is a good time to post my pre-season rankings.
1. #14 TCU - The defending conference champions obviously start the season in the top spot. Sophomore QB Casey Pachall makes his first career start this week on the road against a decent Baylor team.
2. Air Force - Troy Calhoun returns one of his best teams ever (14 starters) including senior QB Tim Jefferson after finishing 9-4 last year. The Falcons open with South Dakota at home this week before facing the defending conference champions in week 2.
3. San Diego State - The Aztecs are transitioning from Brady Hoke (left for Michigan) to Rocky Long (former D-Coordinator) after a successful 2010 season (9-4). We probably won't learn too much about the new-look Aztecs this week as they play Cal Poly.
4. Colorado State - I'm not sure the Rams deserve to start in this spot but this is where they fell. Steve Fairchild's team is coming off a disappointing 3-9 season but there's optimism in Fort Collins that this year should be better. A road opener at New Mexico could be a decent gauge for which direction these teams will be headed.
5. UNLV - 2-11 isn't an ideal record for a first year coach (Bobby Hauck) and 2011 might not be any better with a fairly difficult non-conference schedule including the season opener on Thursday night against
. Good luck Rebs! Wisconsin
6. Wyoming - The Pokes could struggle this year with zero experienced quarterbacks on the roster but the first three games are winnable including the home opener against Weber State.
7. #5 Boise State - The Broncos dominated the WAC for the last 10 seasons and have become a top-10 team but have yet to prove anything in the Mountain West, which is why they're ranked so low. Their opener against Georgia should be one of the best games of the weekend.
8. New Mexico - Back-to-back 1-11 seasons will pretty much guarantee a spot in the cellar, even behind the conference newcomers. Until the Lobos actually do something worth rewarding, I imagine they'll be here for awhile.
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