Show us your picks: Week One
LARAMIE -- The Mountain West Conference has a serious chance to flex its collective muscle this weekend.
A realistic one? That remains to be seen.
I think it's safe to assume New Mexico and Nevada have the biggest hill to climb. Two rebuilding programs, on the road in hostile environments, playing teams with plenty to prove in Texas A&M and USC, respectively, is probably not what the doctor ordered.
Utah State travels to Iowa City to take on the No. 25 Hawkeyes. The spread is huge, but does anyone on planet earth trust Kirk Ferentz's all-too-familiar offensive scheme? The veteran head coach even doubled down this week saying in his press conference that one of his favorite victories was a 6-4 triumph over Penn State back in 2004.
He prefaced that with, "I could probably get fired for this ..."
San Jose State, fresh off a lopsided loss to No. 6 USC in the Coliseum, will again face a tall task in 18th-ranked Oregon State this Sunday inside CEFCU Stadium. The Spartans are -16.5 dogs in that one.
Then, there are the almost-automatic victories.
Air Force is playing its traditional opening-day cupcake in Colorado Springs and San Diego State will host Idaho State inside of Snapdragon Stadium in sunny SoCal. Will anyone show up? The school announced an attendance (tickets distributed) of 23,867 last Saturday.
We all know better. The true number was 16,831. The turnstiles were the ultimate snitch.
It was such an embarrassment that SDSU Athletics Director John David Wicker sent out a mass email to Aztec Club members.
"My ask of you is to help us fill up our home venues as we know with certainty that an enthusiastic Aztec crowd can inspire our student-athletes to be at their best," he wrote. "Please ask a fellow alumnus, a friend, a neighbor to join you at a game."
I am keeping my eye on Boise State's visit to 10th-ranked Washington. Quarterback Taylen Green is a budding star in this league. The Broncos aren't afraid to play anyone, anytime, anywhere. The Huskies are a two-touchdown favorite, but we've seen this movie before.
Jay Norvell turned the Nevada football program around in just two years.
The Wolf Pack finished 3-9 during his first season in Reno back in 2017. That win total vaulted to eight the following year. Can his new team, the Colorado State Rams, see a similar jump now that Norvell has littered his roster with "his guys?"
Having a veteran signal caller is a good start. Clay Millen completed 72.2% of his passes last fall. That's a school record. It was also the best completion percentage in the nation. You know what other category the Rams led the FBS in? Sacks. As in letting Millen and Co. hit the turf a staggering 59 times. Ouch.
If that issue isn't fixed, neither is the Cowboys' Border War rival.
Can they hang with Washington State Saturday inside Canvas Stadium in Fort Collins? Give me Jake Dickert and the Coogs.
MORE UW FOOTBALL NEWS VIA 7220SPORTS:
I'll also be paying attention to Hawaii and Stanford.
The spread is just -3.5 in favor of the Cardinal and the game will be played on the islands. As you know, the state of Hawaii has suffered devastating fires. Playing inspired football shouldn't be a problem for the home team, not to mention the 'Bows gave Vanderbilt all it could handle in Zero Week.
Fresno State is on the road in Big Ten country taking on Purdue.
The Boilermakers are a four-point favorite over the defending Mountain West champs, who installed Mikey Keene as its heir apparent to Jake Haener. Keene spent the previous two seasons at UCF where he connected on 65.6% of his throws to go along with 23 touchdown tosses and seven picks.
The league's media is still very high on the Bulldogs. Jeff Tedford's program lost a ton of talent to graduation -- Haener, Jordan Mims, Jalen Moreno-Cropper, Nikko Remigio and David Perales, among others. That's the quarterback, leading rusher, receiver and sack master.
Last but not least, Texas Tech will pay a visit to War Memorial Stadium for a 5:30 p.m. kickoff Saturday night in Laramie.
Just three of our pickers this week -- all regulars -- think the Cowboys can pull off this upset over Joey McGuire's high-powered Red Raiders.
I am one of those.
Why the confidence? Depth. Defense. Urgency.
Craig Bohl's roster has arguably never been deeper in his decade on the high plains. Wyoming features one of the best defensive fronts in not only the conference, but the country, led by Cole Godbout in the middle. This will be his final ride in Brown and Gold. Same goes for Easton Gibbs, Andrew Peasley, Frank Crum, Jakorey Hawkins, Ryan Marquez, Treyton Welch, Wyatt Wieland and other leaders in this program.
If the Pokes can't pull off this stunner, it certainly isn't the end of the world. In fact, this squad should be better off in the long run for taking on two heavy weights from the Lone Star State in the first three weeks.
It sure would be a nice kickstart to the season though, wouldn't it?
Let the games begin.
Here's this week's matchups and betting odds:
Texas Tech (-14) at Wyoming
Washington State (-11) at Colorado State
Stanford (-3.5) at Hawaii
Utah State (+24) at No. 25 Iowa
Fresno State (+4) at Purdue
Robert Morris (N/A) at Air Force
Boise State (+14) at No. 10 Washington
Bryant (N/A) at UNLV
Nevada (+38) at No. 6 USC
New Mexico (+38) at Texas A&M
Idaho State (N/A) at San Diego State
Florida (+4.5) at No. 14 Utah
Here's our best bet this week and a big thanks to Eric Miller and Doug Mader for joining us: