Mountain West power ratings: Air Force takes the top spot as Boise State drops

Last season, the Hotline published weekly ‘Best of the West’ power ratings that considered not only Pac-12 teams but those in the Mountain West and Brigham Young. The exercise was so popular that we’re adding a MW-specific column to our array of offerings this season.

(All times Pacific)

1. Air Force (6-0/4-0)

Last week: 3
Result: beat Wyoming 34-27
Next up: at Navy (9 a.m. on CBS)
Comment: Full disclosure: The Falcons are No. 20 in my Associated Press ballot, which was submitted Saturday night. And they are the MW’s only representative.

2. Wyoming (5-2/2-1)

Last week: 1
Result: lost at Air Force 34-27
Next up: idle
Comment: Winning in Colorado Springs one week after toppling Fresno State was a task too daunting for the Cowboys. We were impressed they went point-for-point with the Falcons deep into the fourth quarter.

3. Fresno State (6-1/2-1)

Last week: 2
Result: won at Utah State 37-32
Next up: idle
Comment: Given Boise State’s clear mediocrity and San Diego State’s obvious shortcomings, the Bulldogs should be significant favorites in each game the rest of the way. So let’s presume 11-1 unless there’s a result to the contrary.

4. Colorado State (3-3/1-1)

Last week: 6
Result: beat Boise State 31-30
Next up: at UNLV (4 p.m. on the MW Network)
Comment: For those unaware, the Rams scored three touchdowns in the final four minutes to stun BSU. The rally culminated with an 88-yard drive that spanned 32 seconds and featured a 33-yard touchdown pass as time expired. Wow. Just, wow.

5. Utah State (3-4/1-2)

Last week: 5
Result: lost to Fresno State 37-32
Next up: at San Jose State (4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network)
Comment: The Aggies’ record is more than a tad deceiving. Their four losses have come against teams (Iowa, James Madison, Air Force and Fresno State) that have a combined record of 24-2. That’s right, 24-2.

6. Boise State (3-4/2-1)

Last week: 4
Result: lost at Colorado State 31-30
Next up: idle
Comment: The Broncos have lost five or more games only twice this century, in Chris Petersen’s final year (2013) and in Andy Avalos’ first (2021). With a difficult schedule looming, there are plenty of chances for another dive to five.

7. San Jose State (2-5/1-2)

Last week: 7
Result: won at New Mexico 52-24
Next up: vs. Utah State (4 p.m. on CBS Sports Network)
Comment: Win this week, and the Spartans have a real chance to sneak into the postseason. Lose this week, and the margin for error vanishes — a treacherous position with Fresno State looming.

8. UNLV (5-1/2-0)

Last week: 8
Result: won at Nevada 45-27
Next up: vs. Colorado State (4 p.m. on the MW Network)
Comment: Winning five of the first six games at UNLV is a minor miracle. But taking the next step, to win No. 6, will be more difficult than it seems.

9. San Diego State (3-4/1-2)

Last week: 9
Result: won at Hawaii 41-34
Next up: vs. Nevada (6 p.m. on FS2)
Comment: Good time to remind fans that the Aztecs have a 13-game season, leaving five opportunities to win three games. Because they need all the chances they can get.

10. Hawaii (2-5/0-2)

Last week: 10
Result: lost to San Diego State 41-34
Next up: at New Mexico (3 p.m. on Spectrum Sports)
Comment: A winless conference season could hinge on the outcome of Hawaii’s trip to Reno in early November, because it’s tough to spot another victory.

11. New Mexico (2-4/0-2)

Last week: 11
Result: lost to San Jose State 52-24
Next up: vs. Hawaii (3 p.m. on Spectrum Sports)
Comment: Too much emphasis is placed on coaching adjustments, unless a three-point halftime lead dissolves into a 28-point loss. And then not enough emphasis is placed on coaching adjustments.

12. Nevada (0-6/0-2)

Last week: 12
Result: lost to UNLV 45-27
Next up: at San Diego State (6 p.m. on FS2)
Comment: Winless teams in major college football: Nevada and Sam Houston. That’s it. Just those two.

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