Questions face Mountain West teams as media days begin

Various college football magazines are in stores and online, and now it’s time for those who cover the Mountain West media to weigh in with their thoughts.

UNLV fans find out Tuesday morning just what the Mountain West media thinks about their favorite team.

The predicted order of finish and preseason all-conference team will be announced as the event unofficially kicks off the season the next two days at The Cosmopolitan.

UNLV, though, is only one storyline in the Mountain West. Here are five others:

1. The spotlight will be on Wyoming quarterback Josh Allen.

He’s the face of the conference entering the season, having already been given the Sports Illustrated feature treatment. Largely depending on whether Southern California’s Sam Darnold declares for the NFL Draft after this season, Allen could be the No. 1 overall pick. But he has to produce, which Allen did last season in passing for 3,203 yards and rushing for 523 to lead the Cowboys to the conference championship game. Now every opponent will have extra video in which to gameplan for him.

2. Boise State needs to change momentum.

The Broncos haven’t played in the Mountain West title game since 2014, which to its fans is like being in the Dark Ages. As always, though, Boise State is expected to contend for the Mountain Division title and make the MW championship game, even with nine starters back. This is a program that’s used to being at the top, and the longer it takes for Boise State to regain its former dominance, the more difficult it will become to get there, especially in the more loaded Mountain Division.

3. The heat is on Utah State coach Matt Wells.

Hard to believe how far he has fallen since 2013 and 2014. Wells was named conference Coach of the Year in 2013 after leading the Aggies to a 9-5 record and Mountain West title game appearance despite losing four quarterbacks to injuries. Then he led the Aggies to a 10-4 record a year later. The program has since gone the other way, and now comes off back-to-back losing seasons. Wells’ future was called into question after going 3-9 last season before being given another year. He better make the most of the extra chance.

4. Colorado State looks to make a move.

There is a lot of excitement in Fort Collins over the opening of a new stadium, and the Rams have the team to break in the facility just right. With 14 starters back from a 7-6 team, Colorado State should challenge in the Mountain Division. The Rams have expected November showdowns at Wyoming and at home against Boise State that could determine which team represents that division in December. Colorado State averaged 35.3 points last season, but it must improve its defense, which gave up 30.4 points per game.

5. Can anyone challenge San Diego State in the West?

The Aztecs have won the division as well as the overall conference the past two seasons, and there is no indication their stranglehold on the West will end this season. It’s a combination of another strong San Diego State team and the lack of legitimate contenders. The Aztecs, who have given up 20.2 points per game or fewer each of the past three seasons, should again have the Mountain West’s best defense. As for potential challengers, UNR, Hawaii or UNLV might wind up in the top half of the West Division but still be miles apart from the Aztecs.

Contact Mark Anderson at manderson@reviewjournal.com. Follow @markanderson65 on Twitter.

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