SI.com 2003 College Football Preview




SI.com's College Football Conference Previews

  Mountain West

Projected Standings
(Projected overall record in parentheses)
1
  New Mexico
   6-1  
(9-3)
2
  Colorado State
   5-2  
(9-3)
3
  BYU
   5-2  
(7-5)
4
  Air Force
   4-3  
(8-4)
5
  UNLV
   3-4  
(5-7)
6
  Utah
   2-5  
(4-8)
6
  San Diego State
   2-5  
(4-8)
8
  Wyoming
   1-6  
(2-10)
 

SI.com's Stewart Mandel breaks down the 2003 conference race and predicts the final standings.

Colorado State, the Mountain West champ three of the league's first four seasons, has its fans thinking of a run at the BCS, thanks to the return of player of the year Bradlee Van Pelt and 14 other starters from last year's 10-4 team. The Rams are once again talented across the board but must replace bruising running back Cecil Sapp.

CSU is no lock to finish first, however. A year after reaching the Las Vegas Bowl, New Mexico is poised to take the conference by storm. Budding star running back DonTrell Moore, who ran for 1,134 yards and 13 touchdowns as a freshman, is one of 10 returning starters on offense, and the defensive line has all-conference players on each end.

Coming off its first seven-loss season in 32 years, BYU looks to get back on track with the help of innovative new coordinator Bronco Mendenhall's 3-3-5 defense. It will help that quarterback Matt Berry now has a year under his belt running Gary Crowton's high-tech offense.

Air Force quarterback Chance Harridge burst on the national scene last year with 22 rushing touchdowns last season. The Falcons should return to the postseason, but losing star linebacker Anthony Schlegel to Ohio State didn't help.

The other half of the conference may struggle to reach .500. UNLV has a plethora of promising tailbacks in Larry Croom, Dominique Dorsey and Deon Burnett but must replace athletic QB Jason Thomas. Utah gains a proven rebuilder in former Bowling Green coach Urban Meyer but is loaded with questions on offense.

San Diego State and Wyoming both have prolific quarterbacks, Adam Hall and Casey Bramlett, respectively, but were among the worst in the country on defense last season.

 
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