Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Is it time for Bronco Mendenhall to Go?

Before you read anything else you should know, even though I have no inside information, I am confident that Bronco Mendenall will not get fired after this season. Gary Crowton had three losing seasons before he was asked to quit.  Bronco Mendenhall deserves at least that.  I have read rumors in chat rooms, but nothing credible indicating that boosters are beginning to withhold their support of the program.

College football is evolving right now. Only time will tell if this season is a blip on the radar or the beginning of irrelevance in Provo. It seems that the college football powers are willing to go on a spending spree right now, and no one knows where it will end. But sooner or later, it will end.  It has to.  The mission of every university involves creating professionals in something other than sports. Some do this by with research while others focus on teaching. As I read about Boise State's plans to provide stipends for the full cost of education, I wondered how they would pay for it. I quote this this paper.

"Football Bowl Subdivision (FBS) schools spent more than $91,000 per athlete compared with just over $13,000 per student. Yet students across the country faced steep tuition hikes and increased fees."

This type of spending is not happening at BYU. According to this Department of Education website, BYU spends about 23,000 per football player. The total cost of education at BYU for football player would probably add significantly to this total, but BYU may still be the model of efficiency in college football. And, it is still considered a tuition bargain, even for non-LDS athletes. According to the site, in the 2012-2013 school year, BYU athletics earned five millions dollar profit. They have about 8,000 left for each student athlete.  BYU may drop out of an arms race, if it comes to that, but most likely they can absorb the extra costs.

The real problems for BYU are on the field this year. They are not only mired in a 4-game losing streak, they are losing games in ways that are rare. BYU doesn't often give up 2nd half leads and lose, but that has happened twice this year. They are not often out-coached by Utah State or Boise State. I can't remember the last time BYU gave up 31 points in the 2nd quarter alone. It has indeed been surreal.

There are other cracks in the wall right now.  Attendance is down this season, and sellouts against out-of-state teams are becoming rare.

This hasn't been the only disappointing season in Provo, recently. BYU exceeded expectations in 2006,  when they won the conference championship and had a dominating win against Oregon in the Las Vegas Bowl.  Things were looking up and fans knew that BYU would join rival Utah as a BCS buster.  Every season since has seen disappointment in one degree or another. BYU has been good, and some-times, scary good. But they have failed to turn the corner to greatness.

The question real question is, what are the problems in Provo and why can't teams that are coached by Bronco turn the corner? There is no doubt that BYU, at best, has been in decline since 2009 and the debate is how steep has that decline been. This year, BYU has been plagued with injuries, and that has led to at least 2 of the 4 losses this season. The other 2 losses can clearly be blamed upon the coaching staff and a lack of preparation for those games.

Even when Mendenhall was winning 10 games per season, this was still an issue. Back to the 2009 season, BYU was well prepared for their opener and won a close game against Oklahoma on a neutral field. Then, later that same season, they were blown out by Florida State at home. Yes, it was Florida State, but it wasn't one of their better seasons once all was said and done. And even though BYU went 11-2 in 2009, finishing with an overtime win over Utah and a dominating Las Vegas Bowl victory over Oregon State, it wasn't all it promised to be after that afternoon was over in Arlington. TCU won the Mountain West Championship that year and then played in the Fiesta Bowl and lost to Boise State.

BYU fans have been waiting for that moment of their own for years, but it was always gone to someone else. It was Utah, at first, followed by Boise State then Hawaii, and then TCU. All rivals to some degree, but never BYU. They never busted the BCS and will have to wait another season or two to bust the new playoff. But it's not as if there has not been inconsistency in Provo. Every year begins with promise, and every season has it's degree of sadness.

If there is one thing that you can count on from a Bronco Mendenhall team, it is at least two unprepared, under-coached games every single season. It has happened at least twice every season, Bronco has stepped to his post-game podium and said, "sorry, that was my bad." As a results, it's always next year. And perhaps Cougar fans have had enough.

While this year's performance, or Brocno's history may not warrant dismissal, it is certainly not going to get the program to the level that many fans crave. You might be in the Big 12, but if you win the conference championship, you won't be playing for the national championship.  Because your two losses will disqualify you.  And if you can't get a national championship in the Big 12, you definitely won't get one as an independent. It won't work as member of the Mountain West and it won't work as a member of the AAC. It just won't work.  A national champion has to be ready to play every single week without fail.  No excuses.  You have to win.

If you are satisfied with just conference championships, then BYU should join a conference. They will win one every once in a while with Mendenhall at the helm.  Probably enough for fans to happy.  If you want to win a national championship, then you need a coach that will have his team properly prepared every single Saturday without fail and without excuse. Conference affiliation or independent.  Every Saturday means every single one from September to November.

Even BYU fans who are apologists for Bronco Mendenhall probably understand this principle.  Either you learn to look past this, or you support your team whatever may come.  For me, you don't need to win every game, but there is no excuse for not be ready to play every week.  I think that fans should accept nothing less.

Is there someone who can have his team ready to play every week? Is there someone who can meet the standards of the LDS Church and have the Cougars ready every single Saturday without fail? There probably is. But if Bronco were to leave now, many fans may wish for Kalani Sitaki, but BYU may end up with Dave Campo (yes, the former Dallas Cowboy coach is an LDS church member who is currently the Defensive Coordinator at Kansas.).  BYU may end up hiring someone you would not expect, someone who doesn't come from the traditional college path of being a coordinator before becoming a coach, but who understands that his team need to be ready and knows how to get them there.

BYU will have to open their pockets as well as the hearts to get the man they need. Are they prepared to do that? They have the money. Is now the time? If it is, don't be surprised that a mission call is found for Bronco. There are some high profile mission president openings coming this year. Hong Kong, London, Moscow, Chicago, Boston, New York, Washington DC, Atlanta, Oakland, Sydney. It would make one heck of a headline.

However,  I expect Bronco to stay another year or two. And while he is here, expect more of the same. His teams will beat who they should, they just won't win enough games to win a championship.  And yes, there will be a couple of stinkers every season where Bronco steps to the mike and falls on his sword.

Turning the Corner

Turning the corner describes the week that was in college football in Utah this week.  Please read on.

Boise State 55 BYU 30

BYU fans are not used to seeing their team lose like this.  In fact, BYU fans are used to seeing their Cougars dish it out in games like this one, so much so that it could be a GEICO commercial.  There was nothing that Bronco Mendenhall's defense could do to stop the Bronco attack.  I will have more about the state of the BYU football program in a follow-up post.

Predicted outcome
Worst Case 5-7
Best Case 7-5

Projected Win
Savannah State

Projected Loss
California

Toss Up
Middle Tennessee
UNLV

Utah 24 USC 21

You could expect that Utah would beat the Trojans at home, but USC is still USC and this was not an easy win for the Utes.  If they are to win the South Division, no wins from this point forward will be easy.  But this game was fun to watch, even though there were some missed opportunities by both teams.  There were mistakes made, but that didn't happen at the end of the game.  It will be fun watching Utah, Arizona and Arizona State break up the current log jam at the top of the division.

Predicted Outcome
Worst Case 7-5
Best Case 11-1

Projected Wins
Colorado

Toss Up
Arizona State
Oregon
Stanford
Arizona

Utah State 35 UNLV 20

The rallying cry in Logan right now could be, "our 4th String QB is better than your 4th string QB."  Matt Wells is certainly not one to use injuries as an excuse.  Of course that comes from the proper preparation of backups.  Your 4th stringers would certainly do well if they were prepared to take over when those in front of them go down to injury.

Predicted finish 8-4

Projected wins
Hawaii
Wyoming
New Mexico
San Jose State

Projected loss
Boise State

Don't have time to wallow in the misery of our FCS teams this week.  But I will note that Southern Utah took it to North Dakota last weekend.  There is hope that Weber State will finish with a win after all.

Sunday, October 19, 2014

If it weren't for the Utes...

It it were not for the Utes, the last weekend in the state would have been a complete disaster. 

BYU (4-3)

The dream season is turning into a nightmare.  BYU has overcome mid-season swoons before.  And they may do so again.  Perhaps Boise State will look past them?  Yea, right, and someday I will dunk over Karl Malone.  Nobody looks past BYU, even when they are struggling.  The Cougars are currently riding a 3-game losing streak and it look like it will be longer.  Three game losing streaks have happened in the Bronco Era, but not this late in the season.  The last time BYU lost 4 in a row was 1993.  But they still won the conference championship that year.  The last time BYU lost 5 in a row...1968 where the team had a 7-game losing streak.  That was the season BYU was the target of civil rights protests.  BYU fans are not used to this kind of futility.  Does that mean that they are spoiled?

Best Case (7-5)
Worst Case (5-7)

Probable Losses
Boise State
California

Probable Win
Savanah State

Toss Up
Middle Tennessee
UNLV

Utah (5-1)

Has Utah finally turned the corner in the PAC-12.  I think that will be obvious by the end of the season.  And you certainly won't need little 'ol me to tell that has happened.  The hardest stretch of the season now approaches.  USC, Oregon, Arizona are among the coming games.  To me, however, it certainly seems that Utah has learned some lessons and people in the PAC-12 should take them seriously.

Predicted Outcome
Best Case 10-2
Worst Case 6-6

Probable Wins
Colorado

Probable Losses
Stanford

Toss Up
USC
Oregon
Arizona State
Arizona


Utah State (4-3)


I had a hunch that the high flying Aggies would come back to Earth in Fort Collins.  Colorado State is the most improved team in the MWC this season.  This was a game that they needed to take seriously.  That did not happen and perhaps a chance at a MWC championship this year faded into the Rocky Mountain air.  But USU is still going bowling, and possibly going to Hawaii.  That is one heck of a consolation prize.

Projected Finish 8-4

Projected wins
Hawaii
Wyoming
New Mexico
San Jose State

Projected loss
Boise State

Weber State (0-7)

No one expected that WSU would go to Bozeman and win, let alone keep the game close.  It is probably WSU's 3rd moral victory of the season.  There may be one or two real ones very soon.

Projected Finish
Best Case 3-9
Worst Case 2-10

Probable Wins
North Dakota
Northern Colorado

Probable Loss
Northern Arizona

Toss Up
Idaho State

Southern Utah (1-7)

Idaho State is for real!!!  Well, not really, but they are better and someone forgot to tell Ed Lamb and company.  At least BYU fans have a sympathetic shoulder to cry on.

Projected Finish 2-11


Probable Win
North Dakota

Probable Losses
Montana
Northern Arizona
Sacramento State

Sunday, October 12, 2014

This weekend did little to change my mind.

The Utes were off this week, while the only winner in the state was the Utah State Aggies. 

BYU Cougars (2-4)

Although Christian Stewart did a better job as the starting quarterback than I thought he would, BYU still lost.  But you can't really blame the inexperienced senior.  He was hampered by inconsistent play calling and a weak defensive scheme.  BYU could not hold onto a 4th quarter lead, but this time, there was no answer for the surge the other team put together.

I hope that no one still believes that BYU would have been unbeaten if Taysom Hill would have remained healthy.  I doubt that a perfect season will happen for BYU while Bronco Mendenhall is head coach.  He's a good coach, but he's not a great coach.  I'm not certain he has the ability to transcend to the next level.

Predicted Outcome
Best Case 8-4
Worst Case 6-6

Probable Losses

Boise State
California

Probable Wins
UNLV
Savanah State

Toss Up
Nevada
Middle Tennessee

Utah Utes (4-1)

They had the week off.  However, the PAC-12 has been the most unpredictable this season.  That could leave them (the PAC-12) out of the playoff this year.

Predicted Outcome
Best Case 8-4
Worst Case 5-7

Probable Wins

Oregon State
Colorado

Probable Losses
Arizona State
Arizona
Stanford

Toss Up

USC
Oregon

Utah State (4-2)

The Aggies avoided the post-big-win letdown.  They pounced on Falcon mistakes and built a big early lead and cruised to the finish line.  Just don't expect the rest of the conference season to be this easy.  The next game, at Colorado State, will define the rest of the season.

Projected finish
Best Case 9-3
Worst Case 8-4

Projected wins
Hawaii
Wyoming
New Mexico
San Jose State

Toss Up

Colorado State

Projected Loss
Boise State

Southern Utah Thunderbirds (1-6)

No upset this weekend in Cedar City.  We will see about next weekend.


Predicted Finish
Best Case 5-7
Worst Case 3-9

Probable Wins
Idaho State
North Dakota

Probable Losses

Montana

Toss Up
Sacramento State
Northern Arizona

Weber State Wildcats (0-6)

Have the Wildcats touched bottom and are they working their way back.  The answer is  yes, but the results aren't showing in the win column, yet.  That should change in the coming weeks.

Predicted Finish
Best Case 4-8
Worst Case 3-9

Probable Wins
North Dakota
Northern Colorado
Idaho State

Probable Losses

Montana State
Northern Arizona

Toss Up
Portland State

Sunday, October 5, 2014

The Aftermath of Upset Week, What's Next?

BYU 4-1

The Cougars were shell shocked by Utah State in Provo on Friday night.  However, most of the damage was done in the final four minutes of the first half when the Aggies turned a 7-14 deficit into a 28-14 lead.  Outside of that 21-0 stretch, the Cougars outscored the Aggies 20-14.  It still would have been a close game if it weren't for that 4-minute lapse.  It is possible that if Taysom Hill had played in the 2nd half, where the Cougar defense adjusted and figured things out, that BYU could have won.  But things did not turn out that way.

For both Cougar and Aggie fans, don't take too much stock into what happened in Provo on Friday.  It is a rivalry game and I believe there was extra motivation for Utah State.  It's not all that bad for BYU and not all that good for Utah State, but I will address the Aggies and their situation, later.

We will find out about how good of a coach and recruiter Bronco Mendenhall and his assistants are very soon.  How soon the offense adjusts to way that Christian Stewart plays and how soon the defense corrects its problems.  I would not be surprised if Defensive Coordinator Nick Howell is relieved of his coordinator duties or his play-calling duties or finds himself looking for a job after Monday, but his salvation may be that this is a short week. 

If BYU quickly corrects their problems, they can finish the season 11-1 and be on track for a be reward next season when Nebraska, UCLA and Michigan are on the schedule.  There really wasn't much of a chance for the Cougars this year to get into the playoffs, even if one of the New Years 6 bowls was in play.  If they entertain UNLV still looking for win #5, and then they fail, then Coach Mendenhall should be on the hot seat.  I will address that more in the weeks to come, but I will say a lot of the failures this season can be traced straight to the top.

Predicted Outcome
Best Case 8-4
Worst Case 6-6

Probable Losses
Central Florida
Boise State
California

Probable Wins
UNLV
Savanah State

Toss Up
Nevada
Middle Tennessee

Utah Utes (4-1)

Yes, Utah did hang on to beat UCLA, who was previously ranked #8.  However, it may have been more the Bruins looking past the Utes more than any other factor.  Yes, the team and coach said, "We are taking Utah seriously."  But UCLA didn't play like it in the first half

Yes, the Utes deserve credit.  There were a lot of positives to build on.  Especially the poised they showed on the last drive.  Once UCLA took a 28-27 lead, there was a lot of moxie shown to drive the field for the game-winning field goal.  No one would have docked the effort grade if they would have had a 3-and-out on the following drive.

The Utes will still need to play the rest of the season as the underdog in order to make a bowl game, but they are most of the way they.  They will need to win at least one more game that they are not expected to, as they are only favored to beat the Colorado Buffaloes from this point forward.  But I will give them more credit than that.  The Utes are better than expected this season, and I expect that they will continue to prove that.

Predicted Outcome
Best Case 8-4
Worst Case 5-7

Probable Wins

Oregon State
Colorado

Probable Losses
Arizona State
Arizona
Stanford

Toss Up

USC
Oregon

Utah State Aggies (3-2)

The first thing that the Aggie coaches must prepare for in the coming weeks is the "We Beat BYU" hangover.  The rest of the season is not going to be like the 2nd quarter was in Provo.  I'm sure the coaches know that, and I'm positive that many on the team realize that.  Getting back to reality will be hard and hopefully it will not cost them a game.  Their next game is a home game against Air Force, who is certainly capable of coming out of Logan on top.  I suspect that the Aggies have the full attention of their opponents the rest of the way, because all of them have a similar history almost the same disdain for BYU that folks in Logan have.  While the Aggies probably won't see the same team and the same flow that they had in Provo, they are certainly capable of winning the rest of their games.  But their secret is out, and their opponents will be ready.

So, they beat BYU and yet I predict that the finish will be worse?  Again, let's see how they respond in Logan on Saturday vs. the Falcons.  But, except for TCU, most of the MWC teams that left Provo with a victory usually lost after beating the Cougars.

Projected finish
Best Case 9-3
Worst Case 7-5

Projected wins
Hawaii
Wyoming
New Mexico
San Jose State

Toss Up
Air Force
Colorado State

Projected Loss
Boise State

Weber State 0-5

The Wildcats have had a lot to work on during the bye week.  I have not changed my opinion of them.  One note is that Idaho State has moved way up the Sagarin rankings relative to the rest of the conference.  I will not, however, believe that Idaho State is any different than years before until they win another game.

Predicted Finish
Best Case 4-8
Worst Case 3-9

Probable Wins
North Dakota
Northern Colorado
Idaho State

Probable Losses
Cal Poly
Montana State
Northern Arizona

Toss Up
Portland State

Southern Utah (1-5)

The offense is now moving the ball, but the defense is not what fans in Cedar City are used to.   That is one reason the Thunderbirds lost at Cal Poly on Saturday.  It was a heart-breaker for them, as they had a 3-point lead at the end of the third quarter, only to surrender two quick touchdowns.  Of the four drives in the 4th quarter, one would end in a missed and another quickly ended in the interception.  The last time SUU had the ball, they scored a touchdown and a two-point conversion.  They kicked the ball deep as there was still over 3 minutes on the clock, but Cal Poly was able to drive 61 yards and run the clock out.

That past few season, a trip to Cedar City has been problemsome for the leaders of the Big Sky Conference.  Eastern Washington and Montana make the journey to the heart of Canyon Country later this season.  The Thunderbirds can salvage some respect this season by knocking of either the Eagles or the Grizzlies.

Predicted Finish
Best Case 5-7
Worst Case 3-9

Probable Wins
Idaho State
North Dakota

Probable Losses
Eastern Washington
Montana

Toss Up
Sacramento State
Northern Arizona

That is all for this week.

Sunday, September 28, 2014

As September Draws to a Close.

It has been an amazing an unpredictable college football season so far.  Here is my impression of where the state's teams will finish.

Utah Utes (3-1)

In looking back on Utah's season, normally you would be impressed if your team has wins over Fresno State and Michigan.  However, both the Bulldogs and the Wolverines are having sub-par seasons in 2014 and after 5 weeks and those wins don't look so impressive right now.  Saying this, I had Utah at least beating Washington State, Arizona and Colorado to get into the post-season this year.  Now, after the Washington State loss, I am not so sure that will happen. 

But don't give up on the Utes just yet.   Someone is going to look past the Utes, just like Stanford did last year.  I don't know who that will be, but someone will.  For the record, Utah's defense is great.  Their Special Teams are Special.  But the offense needs work.

Predicted finish:
worst case: 5-7
best case: 7-5

Probable wins...
Arizona
Colorado

Probable losses
UCLA
USC
Oregon
Stanford

Toss-up
Oregon State
Arizona State

MVP So Far: PR Kaelin Clay

BYU Cougars

A Deseret News article states that the unbeaten Cougars are on Red Alert.  That may not be a good thing.  You know what happens when a team plays not to lose?  Usually they don't win.  Yes, there are some mistakes that BYU needs to clean up, especially on defense.  Utah State or Boise State or Nevada or Central Florida or California could do what Virginia and Houston could not finish.

There is no reason why BYU can't finish the season undefeated.  The real question is whether or not an unbeaten season will impress the playoff committee.  BYU's offense is performing as predicted.  Taysom Hill is not a great throwing quarterback, but can punish defenses with his arm when it is necessary.  And if it wasn't for special teams play, Virginia would have won.  They will need that going forward.

Predicted Finsish
Best Case: 12-0
Worst Case: 10-2

Probable Wins:
Utah State
Central Florida
Nevada
Boise State
Middle Tennessee
UNLV
Savannah State

Toss Up:

California

MVP So Far: QB Taysom Hill

Utah State Aggies (2-2)

I am not one to be down on the Aggies after the loss to Arkansas State.  When one progresses forward, there are bound to be steps backward from time to time.  Certainly, the Aggies need a healthy Chuckie Keeton to win the MW, but they are still in the race.

The Vigil Brothers anchor a solid defense, and USU should give some teams, especially running team, some headaches before the year is over.

Predicted Finsish
Worst Case: 8-4
Best Case: 9-3

Probable Wins
Air Force
UNLV
Hawaii
Wyoming
New Mexico
San Jose State
Boise State

Probable Losses
BYU

Toss Up

Colorado State

MVP So Far: LBs Nick and Zach Vigil

Weber State Wildcats (0-5)

They say that Rome wasn't built in a day.  Even if a team seems like they have improved, there may be similar results at the end of the season.  There are winnable games on the Wildcats schedule.  They may not be until the end of the season.  It will take some patience to get there.  However, if they take care of the ball, we may see positive results sooner rather than later.

As a positive, Bill Green is looking like a good choice for Weber State at quarterback.  Sooner or later, it will pay off.  If they continue to improve, 2015 may see WSU return to their winning ways.

Predicted Finish
Best Case 4-8
Worst Case 3-9

Probable Wins
North Dakota
Northern Colorado
Idaho State

Probable Losses
Cal Poly
Montana State
Northern Arizona

Toss Up
Portland State

MVP So Far: WR Shaydon Kehano

Southern Utah Thunderbirds (1-4)

People were predicting another big season when Gary Crowton came to Cedar City to run the offense.  But it could have been a move of a desperate man trying to resurrect his career.  Last season wasn't about how awesome the offense was.  They were a punt and play defense team.  And if their result isn't as good in 2014, it is because they have gotten away from that mantra.  They held Nevada to 28 points.  That kind of defense will help them win more than 3 Big Sky games this year.

Predicted Finish
Best Case 4-8
Worst Case 3-9

Probable Wins
Idaho State
North Dakota

Probable Losses
Cal Poly
Montana
Northern Arizona

Toss Up
Sacramento State

MVP So Far: QB Ammon Olsen

Power Rankings

Pac-12

1. Oregon
2. Stanford
3. UCLA
4. USC
5. Washington
6. Arizona State
7. Oregon State
8. Arizona
9. Washington State
10. Utah
11. California
12. Colorado

MVP So Far: Oregon QB Marcus Mariota

FBS Independent

1. Notre Dame
2. BYU
3. Navy
4. Army

MVP So Far: BYU QB Taysom Hill

MWC

1.  Colorado State
2.  Nevada
3.  Utah State
4.  Boise State
5.  San Diego State
6.  Air Force
7.  Wyoming
8.  Fresno State
9.  San Jose State
10.  Hawaii
11. New Mexico
12. UNLV

MVP So Far: Colorado State QB Garrett Grayson

Big Sky

1.  Eastern Washington
2.  Montana
3.  Montana State
4.  Cal Poly
5.  Northern Arizona
6.  Davis
7.  Portland State
8.  Sacramento State
9.  Southern Utah
10. Idaho State
11. Weber State
12. North Dakota
13. Northern Colorado

MPV So Far: Eastern Washington QB Vernon Adams

Wednesday, September 10, 2014

Explanation for the lack of posts.

On August 12, 2014, I was involved in a serious accident.  I wasn't seriously injured, but I was injured and my recovery has taken longer and become more complicated than I imagined it would be.  I have also been assisting in the care of my mother who recently had a serious stroke.  Life has gotten in the way of this blog.

But here are my impressions on how the college football season has gone so far for our Utah teams.

BYU has been impressive on offense and defense.  The last year they started this well in both scoring points and defense was 1977.  However, that all ended when Gifford Nielsen suffered a season-ending injury at Oregon State.  I'm not going to call BYU's season this year a special one, yet.  Let's see if they are still unbeaten after the Central Florida game.

My prediction: 10-2 and not quite in a big bowl game.


Utah is better on offense this year...but defense?  The defense looked better for most of the Fresno State game.  But the Bulldogs did score 20 points after the game was out of reach.  However, those points were scored against the scrubs.  Fresno is rebuilding this year, and was probably not best test for the Utes.  Idaho State's Xavier Finney ran for 133 yards.  Something that should have never happened.  Michigan will provide a healthy test for Utah on both sides of the ball.  Win or lose, we will learn a lot about the Utes next week.  If Utah played California instead of Oregon, I would be confident that they would be in a bowl game this year.

My prediction: 5-7

Utah State was embarrassed at Tennessee.  There is no panic in Logan, just yet.  Tennessee is not exactly what they were when Payton Manning played there.  But they were good enough to win the way they did against USU.  The Aggies have to improve if they are to win the Mountain Division.  Right now, Boise State looks like a loss.  Colorado State, who is improved, could beat them as that game is in Fort Collins.  That would still put them in a bowl game, but not one they would like to go to.

My prediction: 9-4 and the Armed Forces Bowl

Weber State looks improved.  They were blown out by Arizona State, which should surprise no one.  They came close, for 3 quarters, to upsetting North Dakota State.  They have a winnable game this week against Sacramento State.  Hopefully the first win of the Jay Hill era.

My prediction: 4-8

Southern Utah looks lost so far this season.  But they can get back on track when they come home to face South Dakota State.  It is a must-win game for the Thunderbirds because you don't want to host Weber State looking for your first win of the season.  Especially if the Wildcats have already have their first W under their belt.

My prediction: 4-8

For this week, I expect BYU will pull out a close victory against Houston.  Utah State will win a nail biter against Wake Forest.  Southern Utah will lose to South Dakota State.  And Weber State will get a W against Sacramento State.

Power Rankings

FBS Independents

1.  Notre Dame
2.  BYU
3.  Navy
4.  Army

PAC-12

1.  Oregon
2.  Stanford
3.  UCLA
4.  USC
5.  Arizona State
6.  Washington
7.  Arizona
8.  Utah
9.  Oregon State
10. California
11. Colorado
12. Washington State

Mountain West

1.  San Diego State
2.  Boise State
3.  Utah State
4.  Colorado State
5.  Fresno State
6.  San Jose State
7.  Nevada
8.  UNLV
9. Wyoming
10. Air Force
11. Hawaii
12. New Mexico

Great Big Super Huge Sky.

1.  Montana
2.  Eastern Washington
3.  Montana State
4.  Cal Poly
5.  Northern Arizona
6.  Portland State
7.  Sacramento State
8.  Southern Utah
9.  UC Davis
10. Northern Colorado
11. Weber State
12. North Dakota
13. Idaho State