It’s almost like the Wild West.
Not really though, it’s just the Mountain West. And it’s been anything but wild this year. In fact, it’s pretty much been the opposite.
There hasn’t been a lot to be excited about in the league so far, especially early in the season. Boise State was 2-2, San Diego State started 2-2, and Fresno State went 1-3 through the first four weeks. Fresno was voted to win the West division by the media with 20 first-place votes. The Bulldogs lost as many games in the first four weeks as they did all last season. Things seemed bleak for Fresno early on, especially following a loss to UConn in Week 4. It suffered a 40-20 loss to Boise the following week.
But that was the Bulldogs without quarterback and All-MW selection Jake Haener. The senior suffered a high ankle sprain during a Week 3 loss at USC. Haener is under center again and has passed for 721 yards and seven touchdowns in the two games since his return.
Haener is back, and so is Fresno.
Interestingly enough, college football betting odds via BetMGM have the Bulldogs as the favorite at +150 to win the conference. Surprisingly, this isn’t much of a difference from Week 4, when Fresno was 1-2 and +175 to win the conference. Every other book currently lists Boise as the favorite at -115. The Broncos are also the only MW team in our Group of Five Power Poll this week.
While Haener was sidelined, the Bulldogs pulled off a 17-10 win over San Jose State. The Spartans had been rolling and were 4-1. At that point, their only loss came to Auburn in a one-possession game. Following the Oct. 15 loss to the Bulldogs, SJSU has seemed to spiral down, defeating Nevada by seven and Colorado State by 12. These are games we would’ve assumed the Spartans would win by multiple scores in the first half of the season.
If SJSU wants a shot at playing in the MW title game, it needs to close the season with three consecutive wins. First on the list is a matchup with San Diego State on Saturday. The Spartans shouldn’t have much trouble in their final two games versus Utah State and Hawai’i.
Both Fresno and SJSU are 4-1 in league play, and the Bulldogs start the final stretch of the season Friday night at UNLV, followed by a road game at Nevada and a home tilt with Wyoming — perhaps a contest that could determine the conference championship game.
Picked fifth in the Mountain Division in the preseason media poll, Wyoming is already bowl eligible for the sixth time in the Craig Bohl era. The Cowboys are a surprising 4-1 in the MW and 6-3 overall. But if the Pokes want any shot at winning their first MW conference title in program history, they’ll also need to finish the season 3-0, and that starts this week in the Border War against CSU.
Sure, the Rams have been awful this season. Still, weird things tend to happen in rivalries.
Following this week’s contest, Wyoming hosts Boise. It’s hard to imagine that the representative from the Mountain Division won’t be the winner of this game as the Broncos sit at 6-3 and 5-0 in MW play.
If Wyoming beats Boise at home two weeks from now, the Cowboys will probably be competing in their first MW championship since 2016 and the Josh Allen era. Fresno holds the tie-breaker over SJSU, and has the path to play in the title game. All the Bulldogs need to do is win out. Certainly easier said than done.
But who’s going to make it out of the Mountain Division? We’ll just have to wait and see.
The league hasn’t been too exciting this season, and honestly, some may say has been underperforming. Just wait, though, things might get a little western down the stretch.