What Mountain West Team Will Earn A Top 25 Ranking First?
Who will crack the top 25 and when?
How long before the Mountain West gets respect?
The first official preseason poll came out with the USA TODAY coaches top 25 and it was just a mild surprise that zero Mountain West teams within it.
So, instead of just wallowing and complaining about what team from the conference should be ranked, let’s look at the bright side and find out when is a realistic chance for a Mountain West school to get into the top 25.
There are just a handful of teams, at this time, that have a legitimate shot at earning a top 25 ranking, so we will discuss those teams which have votes in the coaches poll which includes Boise State, Utah State, and Fresno State.
We also will not dive extremely deep looking at what opponents will do ahead in the polls because that is when things get weird.
The Broncos are the closest thing to being ranked in the Mountain West as there are just two spots out of the rankings. They open up against Florida State in a sort of neutral site game down in Jacksonville. A win against the Seminoles will get the Broncos ranked, no questions asked.
The line on this game through the summer has been between 3.5 and fout points in favor of the Seminoles, so a win is in the cards. Now, if the Broncos lose this game, also a likely outcome, it could take Boise State perhaps a month or so to get ranked.
The schedule then goes to Marshall, Portland State, Air Force, UNLV and Hawaii. So, to get ranked in that stretch it means piling up wins and hoping teams ahead of them lose.
The Aggies are far down on the list of being ranked as they are tied for 35th along with Fresno State and will need some help with some teams above them losing to move up.
Utah State opens up on the road against Wake Forest and that will gain some clout if they can beat an ACC team on the road but it will take more than that to get ranked. That Week 1 win likely will not be enough to get them in the top 25 heading into Week 2.
If Utah State starts off 4-0 with an opening win over Wake Forest, Stony Brook, Colorado State and San Diego State. However, if they do get ranked after that start it will be a tough challenge to keep it as the next opponent is going on the road to face LSU, a preseason top-10 team.
The Bulldogs are in the same boat as Utah State but the difference is the non-conference schedule which starts with the opener at USC who is earning votes and then hosting Minnesota in Week 2, who also is getting consideration from the coaches top 25.
The early lines on the Week 1 Fresno State and USC game has the Trojans as a heavy favorite anywhere from nine to 13.5 points, which seems high. Perhaps just beating the name value of USC and being a double-digit underdog could get the Bulldogs ranked after the first week.
That is the best case scenario but odds are much better that a 2-0 Fresno State who beats USC and a 1-0 Minnesota team should get them ranked, but a 3-0 start has them in the top 25 almost for sure.
Three ranked at once?
This would be the best-case-scenario for the conference and earn a ton of credit. Having Fresno State, Utah State, and Boise State ranked all at once could happen by Week 4.
However, unless the Aggies pull off a major upset getting three teams in the top 25 at once may not happen until late in the year and maybe not even until bowl season.
Odds are that once the Mountain West will have two teams ranked in the top 25 for the majority of the season.