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2013 College Football Preview: Mountain West
By: Brian Graham - StatFox
Published: 7/8/2013  at  5:00:00 AM
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To get you prepared for the upcoming college football season, we continue our run of all FBS conference previews over the next several weeks. For complete coverage, download your copy of the 2013 StatFox Edge Football Preview. Next up is the Mountain West, which added two more schools this season, San Jose State and Utah State, which both left the disbanded WAC. The two six-team divisions are called the MWC West and MWC Mountain.

Odds to Win Mountain West

(For the latest Odds, connect to Sportsbook.ag)
6-to-5: Boise State
8-to-5: Fresno State
7-to-1: Utah State
7-to-1: San Jose State
10-to-1: San Diego State
20-to-1: Nevada
30-to-1: Air Force
40-to-1: Wyoming
50-to-1: Colorado State
50-to-1: Hawaii
100-to-1: New Mexico
100-to-1: UNLV

BOISE STATE BRONCOS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (7-1 in MWC)
ATS Record: 6-7 (46%)
Over/Under: 6-7
Points Scored: 30.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 15.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 125/1

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
Boise State went 11-2 in its post-Kellen Moore season, but its 30.2 PPG (55th in FBS) was the lowest since 1998. QB Joe Southwick (2,730 pass yds, 19 TD, 7 INT) filled in admirably for Moore, throwing most often to WRs Matt Miller (769 rec. yds, 5 TD) and Kirby Moore (368 rec. yds), and TE Holden Huff (4 rec. TD). RB Jay Ajayi (548 rush yds, 6.7 YPC, 4 TD) leads a deep collection of backs, but the O-Line (10 sacks allowed, T-7th in FBS) lost three starters. The nationís fierce defensive line (38 sacks, T-12th in FBS) should remain one of the best in the land with stud DE Demarcus Lawrence (9.5 sacks, 48 tackles), but the back seven lost all starting linebackers and both corners. LB Blake Renaud (46 tackles) is solid in the middle, and safeties Jeremy Ioane (70 tackles, 3 INT) and Darian Thompson (43 tackles, 3 INT) hope to keep the nationís No. 5 passing defense (169 YPG, 5th in FBS) elite.

FRESNO STATE BULLDOGS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (7-1 in MWC)
ATS Record: 11-2 (85%)
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 37.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 23.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 300/1

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
The Bulldogs won the final five MWC games by an average of 47 to 21 before losing 43-10 by SMU in the Hawaii Bowl. The potent offense (478 YPG, 16th in FBS) will again be orchestrated by QB Derek Carr (4,014 pass yds, 37 TD, 7 INT), who is healthier after offseason hernia surgery. Sophomore WR Davante Adams (1,312 rec. yds, 14 TD) stretches the field, while WRs Isaiah Burse (851 rec. yds, 6 TD) and Josh Harper (333 rec. yds, 4 TD) work the middle. Robbie Rouse left with 4,647 rushing yards, but RBs Marteze Waller (4.2 YPC) and BYU transfer Josh Quezada (4.3 YPC, 6 TD career) are ample fill-ins. The new 3-4 defense amazed with 167 pass YPG (2nd in FBS) and 40 sacks (9th in FBS), and returns plenty, most notably NG Tyeler Davison (43 tackles), OLB Donavon Lewis (4 sacks) and FS Derron Smith (6 INT).

UTAH STATE AGGIES


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (6-0 in WAC)
ATS Record: 11-1-1 (92%)
Over/Under: 3-9
Points Scored: 34.9 PPG
Points Allowed: 15.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
New Head Coach: Matt Wells
The Aggies were outstanding in 2012, going 11-2, with the two defeats coming by just two points at Wisconsin and three points at BYU. They scored at least 40 points in each of seven straight season-ending wins, and transition to the MWC with a new coach. Matt Wells was promoted from OC and feels confident that QB Chuckie Keeton (3,373 pass yds, 27 TD, 9 INT; 619 rush yds, 8 TD) can be even better. However, his top receiver is WR Travis Reynolds (244 rec. yds, 1 TD), which means JUCOs and freshmen will be counted on. Star RB Kerwynn Williams is also gone, leaving RB Joe Hill (269 rush yds, 6.3 YPC, 9 total TD) as the most valuable ball carrier. The good news is that all five offensive linemen are back. New DC Todd Orlando isnít messing much with last yearís defense that gave up just 15.4 PPG (7th in FBS) and 322 YPG (14th in FBS). Three All-WAC LBs lead the way with Kyler Fackrell (87 tackles, 3 INT, 7 QBH), Jake Doughty (109 tackles) and Zach Vigil (105 tackles, 5.5 sacks). CB Nevin Lawson (10 PD) is very athletic and S Maurice Alexander (7 TFL in 2011) returns from a year-long suspension.

SAN JOSE STATE SPARTANS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 11-2 (5-1 in WAC)
ATS Record: 11-2 (85%)
Over/Under: 8-4
Points Scored: 34.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 21.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
New Head Coach: Ron Caragher
The Spartans cranked out 11 wins last season, with the only two losses being a three-point defeat at Stanford and a loss to 11-2 Utah State. SJSU brings the nationís No. 6 passing offense (333 YPG) to its new conference, along with QB David Fales (4,193 pass yds, 33 TD, 9 INT), who led the nation in accuracy (72.5% completions). His star WR duo of Noel Grisby (1,307 rec. yds, 9 TD) and Chandler Jones (691 rec. yds, 11 TD) also returns. Top RB DeíLeon Eskridge does not, but electric RB Tyler Ervin (205 rush yds, 4.6 YPC; 2 kick return TD) is perfectly capable of filling his void. New head man Ron Caragher will switch the top-flight defense (21.3 PPG, 345 YPG, both 24th in FBS) from a 4-3 to a 3-4 scheme, in part because it lost WAC Defensive Player of the Year DE Travis Johnson. DT Anthony Larceval (43 tackles, 6.5 sacks) has not been cleared to play yet (illness), but DT Travis Raciti (52 tackles, 8.5 sacks) is back to anchor the line. ILB Keith Smith (97 tackles, 4 FF, 8 PD) and OLB Vince Buhagiar (89 tackles, 9.5 TFL) are machines, and the secondaryís lone starter back is superstar CB Bene Benwikere (7 INT, T-2nd in FBS; 67 tackles, 7.5 TFL).

SAN DIEGO STATE AZTECS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 9-4 (7-1 in MWC)
ATS Record: 8-5 (62%)
Over/Under: 5-7
Points Scored: 32.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 24.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 9
The 2012 season certainly had its ups and downs, as the team started out 2-3, but then ripped off seven straight victories, including road wins at Boise State and Nevada. A crushing 23-6 Poinsettia Bowl loss capped the year. QB Adam Dingwell (939 pass yds, 8 TD, 7 INT) did an admirable job replacing injured QB Ryan Katz, and now the offense is his to run with the tutelage of new OC Bob Toledo, who wants Dingwell to attempt longer throws. SDSUís receptions leader, TE Gavin Escobar, is gone, but WR Ezell Ruffin (319 rec. yds, 18.8 YPC) is a field stretcher. But make no mistake, this is a run-first offense (221 rush YPG, 20th in FBS) led by RB Adam Muema (1,458 rush yds, 6.2 YPC, 16 TD). The Aztecs also have a stout run defense (133 YPG, 29th in FBS) that returns the entire D-Line and three great linebackers in MLB Jake Fely (90 tackles, 7 sacks) and OLBs Derek Largent (61 tackles, 6.5 sacks) and Nick Tenhaeff (13 TFL). The three-safety alignment is in great shape with Nat Berhe (94 tackles, 5 PD) and Eric Pinkins (65 tackles, 7 TFL, 3 INT) leading the charge, but SDSU will miss All-MWC corner Leon McFadden.

NEVADA WOLF PACK


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 7-6 (4-4 in MWC)
ATS Record: 4-9 (31%)
Over/Under: 7-5
Points Scored: 37.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 33.8 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 4
New Head Coach: Brian Polian
Chris Ault dropped five of his final six games before retiring, but new head man Brian Polian smartly retained OC Nick Rolovich to keep the Pistol offense intact (515 YPG, 8th in FBS). QB Cody Fajardo (2,786 pass yds, 20 TD, 9 INT; 1,121 rush yds, 12 TD) is very comfortable in this offense, especially with WR Brandon Wimberly (845 rec. yds, 4 TD) granted a sixth year of eligibility, plus quality No. 2 WR Richy Turner (752 rec. yds, 3 TD). JUCO RB Don Jackson could be the top ball carrier. New DC Scottie Hazelton inherits the nationís No. 97 defense (443 YPG) that needs six new starters in the back seven to join DB Charles Garrett (10 PD) who moves to safety from cornerback. The front four will be fierce as long as both DEs Brock Hekking (75 tackles, 8 sacks) and Lenny Jones (5 sacks) keep applying pressure.

AIR FORCE FALCONS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 6-7 (5-3 in MWC)
ATS Record: 3-10 (23%)
Over/Under: 4-7-1
Points Scored: 27.4 PPG
Points Allowed: 29.0 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 3
Defense: Starters Returning: 5
The 6-7 Falcons ended 2012 by losing four of five, dropping those four contests by 22.8 PPG. They ran for 316 YPG (2nd in FBS), but the top two rushers -- RB Cody Getz and QB Connor Dietz -- both graduated. QB Kale Pearson (4.4 YPA, 0 TD, 4 INT; 2.0 YPC, 2 TD) is a run-first quarterback, but drop-back QB Jaleel Awini could also win the starting job. RB Jonathan Lee (545 rush yds, 4 TD) and WR Ty MacArthur (411 rec. yds, 467 rush yds, 4 total TD) are the only major skill players left. The O-Line remains undersized, but effective. A weak D-Line was the cause of 199 rushing YPG allowed (101st in FBS) and 1.3 sacks per game (107th in FBS). DE Alex Hansen (4 sacks) gives the best chance to improve this young front seven. FS Christian Spears (91 tackles) and CB Steffon Batts (77 tackles, 2 INT) shine in a decent secondary.

WYOMING COWBOYS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-8 (3-5 in MWC)
ATS Record: 7-5 (58%)
Over/Under: 6-5
Points Scored: 26.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 33.4 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 7
Defense: Starters Returning: 7
The Cowboys had a 2012 season to forget. In addition to coach Dave Christensenís Air Force tirade that cost him $50,000 and a suspension, his team didnít win a regulation game until November. Star QB Brett Smith (2,837 pass yds, 27 TD, 6 INT) was also in and out of the lineup with injuries, leading to the offenseís weak 391 YPG (70th in FBS). The exciting news is that Smith is now healthy and Christensen will speed up the spread offense to generate more scoring. WR Robert Herron (657 rec. yds, 8 TD) is the best of a deep receiving corps, while top rusher RB D.J. May (374 rush yds, 4.9 YPC) also returns. Wyomingís 108th-ranked defense (470 YPG) struggled the most up front, allowing 232 rushing YPG (T-3rd-worst in FBS), and tallying just 1.17 sacks per game (T-12th-fewest in FBS) and 4.25 TFL per game (T-10th-worst in FBS). With top DL Mike Purcell and top LB Ghaali Muhammad both gone, the team hopes some JUCOs and returning redshirts can make immediate impacts in the front seven. Junior CB Blair Burns (60 tackles, 10 PD) is tasked with leading an unaccomplished secondary.

COLORADO STATE RAMS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-8 (3-5 in MWC)
ATS Record: 4-7-1 (36%)
Over/Under: 5-6
Points Scored: 21.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 30.3 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 9
Defense: Starters Returning: 6
The 4-8 Ramsí four wins came versus teams with a combined 10-40 record, and the eight losses (including FCS North Dakota St.) each came by at least 12 points. QB Garrett Grayson (6.9 YPA, 7 TD, 3 INT) has the edge to start over QB Conner Smith (8.1 YPA, 6 TD, 6 INT). The subpar offense (21.2 PPG, T-102nd in FBS) has just one proven wideout, WR Charles Lovett (428 rec. yds). RB Donnell Alexander (587 rush yds, 4 TD) should help improve the No. 97 rushing offense (129 YPG) behind an O-Line returning all five starters. The D-Line needs help after 4.3 TFL per game (T-10th-worst in FBS). But LBs Shaquil Barrett (67 tackles, 3.5 sacks) and Cory James (54 tackles, 7.5 sacks) are excellent, and the pass defense (203 YPG, 26th in FBS) is strong with CB Shaq Bell (66 tackles, 7 PD) and S Trent Matthews (71 tackles, 10 PD).

HAWAII RAINBOW WARRIORS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 3-9 (1-7 in MWC)
ATS Record: 5-7 (42%)
Over/Under: 6-5
Points Scored: 21.2 PPG
Points Allowed: 35.7 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 10
Defense: Starters Returning: 8
Norm Chow didnít get his first win over an FBS school until after Thanksgiving, finishing 3-9 in his first year at Hawaii. Eight season-ending injuries contributed greatly to the nationís fourth-worst offense (297 YPG). Either Ohio State transfer QB Taylor Graham or returning QB Sean Schroeder (1,878 rec. yds, 11 TD, 12 INT) will start in an offense lacking experience and a decent O-Line (40 sacks allowed, T-7th-worst in FBS). RB Joey Iosefa (463 rush yds, 3.7 YPC, 1 TD) and WR Billy Ray Stutzman (447 rec. yds, 0 TD) are unimpressive top skill players. The subpar defense (35.7 PPG, T-16th-worst in FBS) will get some DTs back healthy to help out star DE Tavita Woodward (5.5 sacks, 38 tackles). LB Art Laurel (51 tackles, 13.5 TFL, 4 sacks) and S Marrell Jackson (56 tackles, 5 PD) both provide stability.

NEW MEXICO LOBOS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 4-9 (1-7 in MWC)
ATS Record: 7-5-1 (58%)
Over/Under: 4-8
Points Scored: 25.8 PPG
Points Allowed: 30.2 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 5
Defense: Starters Returning: 3
The Lobos try to erase the thought of six straight defeats to end their 2012 season, the first under Bob Davie. But four wins were more than the previous three years combined (3-33 record), and five losses in 2012 came by seven points or less. The nationís fifth-best ground game (301 YPG) averaged 5.7 YPC (3rd in FBS), thanks mostly to RB Kasey Carrier (1,469 rush yds, 5.8 YPC, 15 TD), who has four returning O-Linemen to build on his gaudy stats. Sophomore QB Cole Gautsche (13-for-31, 222 yds, 2 TD, 2 INT; 760 rush yds, 7.0 YPC, 7 TD) runs the Pistol offense nicely, but will be pushed by talented JUCO dual-threat QB Clayton Mitchem. The 3-4 defense allowed 444 YPG (99th in FBS) and lost eight starters. The three returners are all of high quality though in DE Jacori Greer (5 sacks) and LBs Dallas Bollema (89 tackles, 3 INT) and Rashad Rainey (40 tackles, 5.5 TFL). The 106th-ranked pass defense (269 YPG) lost all four starters in the secondary, and moved some offensive players to help this unit, which features sophomore CB Cranston Jones.

UNLV REBELS


2012 Statistics:
SU Record: 2-11 (2-6 in MWC)
ATS Record: 7-4-2 (64%)
Over/Under: 6-6
Points Scored: 22.0 PPG
Points Allowed: 32.6 PPG
Odds to Win 2014 BCS National Championship: 50/1 (Field)

2013 Preview:
Offense: Starters Returning: 8
Defense: Starters Returning: 10
The Rebels won just two games for the third straight season, but five home losses came by eight points or less. The offense scored just 22.0 PPG (97th in FBS) on 368 YPG (90th in FBS) which is why Bobby Hauck brought in new OC Timm Rosenbach, who was Montanaís OC last year. Heíll implore QB Nick Sherry (2,544 pass yds, 16 TD, 17 INT) to make better decisions, and to trust experienced WRs Devante Davis (854 rec. yds, 4 TD) and Marcus Sullivan (659 rec. yds, 4 TD). The ground game is in great shape with RB Tim Cornett (1,232 rush yds, 7 TD) and Northwestern transfer RB Adonis Smith (462 rush yds, 4.3 YPC career) running behind a healthier offensive line. Tim Hauck, Bobbyís younger brother, brings NFL experience as the new DC for the nationís 100th-ranked defense (445 YPG) that lost just one starter, stud LB John Lotulelei. DE Sonny Sanitoa (5 sacks, 28 tackles), DT Mark Garrick (9 TFL, 2 FF), LB Tani Maka (70 tackles, 2 sacks), LB Tim Hasson (76 tackles) and CB Sidney Hodge (60 tackles, 8 PD) comprise a strong nucleus.

All 2013 College Football Previews:

MAC
Conference USA
Mountain West
Sun Belt - July 11
American Athletic - July 15
Independents - July 18
ACC - July 22
Big 12 - July 29
Big Ten - August 5
Pac-12 - August 12
SEC - August 19
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