Friday, August 05, 2005

The Wild, Not So Wild WAC

And then there were two. The WAC has never been a particularly strong conference but with the departure of rising power UTEP, Tulsa, Rice and SMU, the WAC is suddenly hurting to fill in holes in the conference. Idaho, New Mexico State and Utah State were all added to fill three of the spots vacated. To say the least, the WAC has done a very poor patch job, bringing in three downtrodden football programs. Of the three, only New Mexico State appears to be ready to ascend after hiring ex-Kentucky head coach Hal Mumme. Of the remaining members (Boise State, Fresno State, Hawaii, Louisiana Tech, Nevada and San Jose State), there in lie the two powers- Boise State and Fresno State. They are the only two bright spots in a poor conference, ranking only above the pitiful Sun Belt, from where the WAC pillaged there three replacements.

Boise State and Fresno State are both Top 25 team heading into the season and perhaps the only WAC schools capable of qualifying for a bowl game. It's quite possible that both Boise State and Fresno State may finish with 9+ wins. It may also be possible that the rest of the league finishes below .500. The only other team with even a remote chance of making a bowl outside of Boise State and Fresno State is Hawaii. However, after losing the NCAA's all time leading passer in Timmy Chang and WR Chad Owens, espect the Warriors to take a step back.

Fresno State is absolutely stacked at tailback. Wendell Mathis, Bryson Sumlin and Dwayne Wright are all expect to see touches out of the backfield. Paul Pinegar returns at QB and with another solid season should continue the Fresno State trend of sending their signal callers onto the NFL (Trent Dilfer, Billy Volek and David Carr). I expect a solid season from Fresno State, perhaps undefeated, but as usual, Pat Hill and the Bulldogs face a difficult OOC schedule with road trips to USC and Oregon. 9-2 seems attainable as they draw Boise State at home and have a decent shot at beating the Ducks. USC is the only sure loss on the schedule.

Much like the Bulldogs, the Broncos face a very tough OOC schedule. Boise State starts the season with trips to Georgia and Oregon State before Bowling Green comes to Boise. I can't imagine the Broncos winning in Athens but the other two seem like possible wins. I think overall that Boise State is a superior team to Fresno State and with that additional difficult OOC game against Bowling Green, the Broncos will be the more battle tested team heading into the Boise State-Fresno State game that will most liklely decide the WAC champion. QB Jared Zabransky fits well into Dan Hawkins system and Jon Helmandollar is one of the nation's best fullbacks. I look for the Broncos to finish with anywhere from 8 to 10 regular season wins. I rank Boise State ahead of Fresno State in my Top 25 but the Broncos' record may not show it at the end of the season.

The rest of the WAC isn't even worth mentioning. Lousiana Tech may have had a shot at a bowl game if not for star tailback Ryan Moats leaving early for the NFL Draft. As I mentioned earlier, Hawaii is the only other team in the conference with a shot at a bowl game.


Post a Comment

<< Home