Monday, August 3, 2009

OSG College Football 2009 Predictions: Western Athletic Conference

Boise State Broncos

2008 Record: 12-1 Overall, 9-0 In The WAC
Lost To TCU 17-16 In The Poinsettia Bowl

Boise State’s run during this decade is off the charts. The Broncos are 54-2 vs WAC opponents since 2002. Boise should get noisee again this year. A BCS bowl might be in the plan for 2009.

Things To Like About The Broncos:

Head Coach Chris Petersen: It’s time to start mentioning Petersen in the same sentence with Nick Saban, Urban Meyer and Bob Stoops. Heading into his 4th year at Boise State, Petersen is 35-4 but look deeper into the numbers for a more intense “wow” factor. Petersen is 23-1 vs WAC opponents, 1-0 vs a Top 10 team, 3-1 vs BCS teams and has led the Broncs to 2 unbeaten seasons.

Secondary: The WAC likes to sling it but offensive coordinators and QB’s will be uneasy challenging Boise State’s defensive backfield. All 4 starters return from a secondary that ranked 2nd in the country in pass efficiency. CB Brandyn Thompson and FS Jeron Johnson are darn good.

Quarterback: Kellen Moore isn’t big or has an NFL arm but he just gets the job done. Moore also won’t make mistakes which is critical at that position.

Things Not To Like About Boise State:

Offensive Line: They are young and have injury issues. There will be pressure on this group to protect Moore.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: Same ole same ole for the Broncos. Double digit wins, a WAC title and a big bowl, maybe a BCS one for Boise State. BSU opens with Oregon after that they can cruise.

Phil: These guys always win. Ian Johnson is gone now, isn’t he? They will be good…they always are, that won’t change. They won’t be undefeated though.

Nelson: I’m actually thinking that Boise will be one of those interlopers that will give the BCS trouble slotting everyone this year. They’ll be that #6-seed that gets to go to the last pick-BCS bowl game. They’ll get to square off against the Big East winner or Notre Dame. Fun times on the smurf turf…
Fresno State Bulldogs

2008 Record: 7-6 Overall, 4-4 In The WAC

Has college football’s annual flavor of the year starting to go stale? 2008 was a rough year for the Bulldogs. Is head coach Pat Hill backside feeling a little warm right now?

Things To Like About Fresno State:

Running Backs: The entire unit is awesome. Ryan Matthews could be one of the nations elite RB’s but must stay healthy. Lonyae Miller isn’t bad either but is injury prone. Anthony Harding was Fresno State’s most consistent back last year and is back. That RB rotation could be on of the best in the country. All three have the potential to run for 1,000 yards.

Offensive Line: Fresno State always has good O-line’s and this one will be to. This group will be a rock this year.

Things Not To Like About Fresno State:

Defense: They were just bad last year finishing near the bottom against the run and in sacks. The Bulldog defense must make some plays, force some turnovers and stop the run.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: Pat Hill will take on anyone, anywhere. The Bulldogs have racked up some nice wins on the road vs BCS foes which gets some attention but just what has Fresno State accomplished? They don’t win their league and their talent level is there and maybe better than Boise State. Hill enters his 13th year in the valley and 2009 is a critical year for him and the Bulldogs.

Phil: I agree. This is the year they get Boise. They will run run, run and run some more and dare people to stop them. It’s a big contrast to the rest of the WAC. If they can stop anyone they could be very good. They will be good enough to win the WAC this year.

Nelson: I don’t think they’ll be 7-6, but I don’t think they’ll be 12-1 either. One other item to consider- the Fresno State athletic department is having to go through severe cutbacks just instituted by President Welty. This means that they will be furloughing coaches just like everyone else on campus. Look for Coach Hill to jet after this year- regardless of the amount of success.

Nevada Wolfpack

2008 Record: 7-6 Overall, 5-3 In The WAC
Lost To Maryland 42-35 In The Humanitarian Bowl

Nevada has always been that team nobody wants to play in the WAC but could never get that big win to win the conference. This Wolfpack team just might get the job done. Mark down November 27th when Nevada plays at Boise State, that might be for the WAC title.

Things To Like About Nevada:

In The Trenches: The Wolfpack has one if not the best offensive lines in the WAC. They do a great job protecting their QB. The defensive line is aggressive and has one of the best pass rushers in the country. Nevada’s defensive ends Kevin Basped and Dontay Moch are terrific.

Quarterback: Colin Kaepernick is special. He ran for over 1,000 yards last year and threw for 2,500 yards as well. He will be one of the most exciting players in the nation.

Things Not To Like About Nevada:

Secondary: That was a big weakness last year. The DB’s were picked apart. That can’t happen for the ‘Pack to make a major move.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: If Nevada can get past Notre Dame at South Bend (and it might happen) then stay up late and watch this team when they are on TV. The Mizzou Tigers come to Reno so there’s another shot to make an impression. This team might be a team to watch as a potential BCS buster.

Phil: Wilkie said the QB is “Special”. This may be your surprise WAC team of the year. They are always pretty good and with Kaepernick running the show, they could be “Special” (I said it too). They could beat N.D…but that will be it. A WAC runner up.

Nelson: Their game with Boise should decide the conference champion. The organized chaos that Kaepernick controls is really fun to watch. It’s high-risk, high-reward. I think there will be more rewards than risk this year.

Louisiana Tech Bulldogs

2008 Record: 8-5 Overall, 5-3 In The WAC
Defeated Northern Illinois 17-10 In The Independence Bowl

La. Tech is the team moving up in the WAC. Derek Dooley is proving to be just as good as a head coach as his dad Vince.

Things To Like About La. Tech:

Solid Lines: La. Tech will win most of the battles in the trenches. The Bulldogs return all their big fellas on the O-Line and D-Line.

Things Not To Like About La. Tech:

Schedule: It’s a tough one. La. Tech opens on the road at Auburn and at Navy. Later in the year the Bulldogs play 4 of 5 on the road with a home game against Boise State sandwiched in between.

Secondary: The glaring weak link in the La. Tech defense. They allowed way too many short and mid-range throws to be completed last year to keep the chains moving. That has to change.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: From October 24 through November 21 La. Tech plays 4 of 5 games on the road with Boise State sandwiched in between. Who did the Bulldogs piss off? After Boise State La. Tech goes to Death Valley to battle LSU then head out to Fresno. La. Tech will be a better team on the field but probably wins 6-7 games. Should make a bowl too.

Phil: Derrick Dooley has this team rolling. These guys have gotten some attention and they have earned it. I still don’t get the whole WAC thing…but whatever. The schedule may be what does them in this year. It will be hard to be very competitive within the conference with such a tough out of conference schedule. 4th place, though the bottom line improves…a lot.

Nelson: Look for another tour of the southeastern second-tier bowl this year for Coach Dooley. The home game in Shreveport last year did wonders for the karma of the program. Interesting to see if there’s some carry-over…

San Jose State Spartans

2008 Record: 6-6 Overall, 4-4 In The WAC

Believe it or not Dick Tomey is building a program at San Jose State. The Spartans have gone from getting the paddles to a near full recovery.

Things To Like About San Jose State:

Defense: They are good. When he’s not double or triple teamed DE Carl Ihenacho will make plays and disrupt the opponent’s backfield.

Things Not To Like About San Jose State:

Offensive Line: They were not very good last year and had a tough time protecting their QB. Their will be pressure on the O-Line to improve for the Spartans to have a special year.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: A tip of the hat to Dick Tomey for making football matter at SJSU. San Jose State opens at USC, a loss, then host Utah, possible win, then at Stanford, pick’em. This is a team that could be the surprise of the league is things fall into place.

Phil: Do you know the way to San Jose? The hurdles are large and I’m not sure they are up to the task. They will be OK and they will scare some folks. Don’t look for the record to be any better than last year.

Nelson: Dick Tomey, really, deserves Coach of The Year consideration. But people want success of ungodly proportions to think about it instead of going from “dead” to “relevant.” If the Spartans catch a break here or there, they could be in Louisiana Tech’s place in the bowl picture.

Utah State Aggies

2008 Record: 3-9, 3-5 In The WAC

Things To Like About Utah State:

Depth: The Aggies return 18 starters and 48 letterman and can go 2-deep in every position.

Things Not To Like About Utah State:

Not Very Big: The Aggies are one of the smallest teams in the country. They will have to rely on quickness than hand to hand combat.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: They say Utah State should be the most improved team in the WAC. I’ll take their word on that. 4-5 wins in 2009.

Phil: Yawn. Not impressed. They are the 3rd best team in Utah. They won’t be a threat this year unless they get bigger and stronger and deeper. Don’t look for much if any improvement.

Nelson: : Baby steps here… I agree with the 4-5 win idea, but any kind of tangible success is still a bit off.

Hawaii Warriors

2008 Record: 7-7 Overall, 5-3 In The WAC
Lost To Notre Dame 49-21 In The Hawaii Bowl

Things To Like About Hawaii:

Big Plays: The Warriors live by that. Greg Alexander is no Colt Brennan but he’s getting there. Hawaii’s receivers have playmakers. They may torch some of the league’s weak defensive backfields

Things Not To Like About Hawaii:

Defense: It has to be totally rebuilt. The Hawaii defense only has 2 returning starters. It will be a work in progress.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: I just don’t see how Hawaii makes it back to a bowl. To many questions on defense and the offense will have pressure to put 40 points on the board.

Phil: They haven’t been the same since June Jones left. No depth on “D” will kill them; they aren’t good enough to make up for it. Bottom 1/3rd of the league.

Nelson: Rebuilding when you have as technical an offense the Rainbows have is never a good recipe. There will be a dip from 7 wins and a return to the middle of the pile…

Idaho Vandals

2008 Record: 2-10, 1-7 In The WAC

Things To Like About Idaho:

Deonte’ Jackson: One of the best running backs in the WAC. Unfortunately his talents are rarely displayed because the Vandals are out of games early. Jackson will get his share of carries this year. He’s all Idaho has.

Things Not To Like About Idaho:

Where Do I Start: The Vandals couldn’t score last year or could stop their opponents from scoring. One if not both of those issues must improve for Idaho to begin to move up.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: It won’t be fun to watch at the Kibbie Dome this year.

Phil: Again, sorry. Not feeling it. While they may be a bunch of good kids, they don’t have the horses to run with the big boys. There really isn’t much else that I can say here.

Nelson: Next....

New Mexico State Aggies

2008 Record: 3-9 Overall, 1-7 In The WAC

Things To Like About New Mexico State:

The Hal Mumme Experiment Is Over: They would chuck it in Las Cruises but it didn’t translate into touchdowns or even wins. DeWayne Walker takes over and is a coup for NMSU. Walker has BCS program written all over him so if Walker moves the program up the WAC food chain he might be gone. Enjoy him while you can Aggie fans.

Things Not To Like About New Mexico State:

Everything: This isn’t a good football team so don’t expect a turnaround.

OSG’s Take:

Wilkie: Another year in the WAC basement for New Mexico State.

Phil: They’ve got “A long, long way to go”. I agree with Wilkie, coach Walker will help, but they are going to need time. A lot of time. There is always 2011.

Nelson: Is there any place lower than last…???

OSG'S Take On The WAC

2009 WAC Champion
Wilkie: Boise State
Phil: Fresno State
Nelson: Boise State

Best Offensive Player:
Wilkie: Colin Kaepernick – Nevada
Phil: Ryan Thompson- Fresno State
Nelson: Colin Kaepernick - Nevada

Best Defensive Player:
Wilkie: Kyle Wilson – Boise State
Phil: Kevin Basped, Nevada
Nelson: Jeron Johnson - Boise State

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