Now that the official preseason polls for the WAC have been released, there's no better time for your OBNUG editors to publish their picks. Well, I guess prior to the polls being released might have been a better time. But you get the idea.
Your participants in this abbreviated WAC preseason roundtable are OBNUG's Kevan and Drew. They will be represented by Waldorf and Statler, the two grumpy old men from the Muppets.
Kevan: I believe that we should operate this preseason roundtable with the recognition that anything we say or do prior to the season starting means absolutely nothing and will inevitably be wrong. In other words, we are Mark May.
Personally, I think the WAC will be very fun to follow this season. There are a lot of teams I am anxious to see and a lot of players I'm anxious to libel. We have new coaches at Utah State and NMSU, a Nevada team with preseason hype, SRO on LaTech's bandwagon, suspiciously quiet Fresno State, the unintentional comedy of Idaho, and much, much more. Why isn't there an exclusive WAC channel, Karl Benson? Huh? Because you and I are the only ones who would watch? Really? Okay.
I think the clear-cut favorite is Boise State, and I say that with the blind fervor of a narcissistic Boise State fan. Bleed blue and homerism! But seriously, it would be downright institutional (the mental one, not the academic one) not to choose the Broncos. They have won the conference championship seven out of eight years. They went undefeated in the regular season last year. They have never lost a conference game at home. They have Kellsy. I have yet to see anyone pick against them, and I refuse to be the first. In fact, I am contractually obligated by Bronco Nation to be no higher than the 400,000th.
The real drama begins at spot number two. Here are the candidates I am open to discussing at that spot: everyone but Idaho and NMSU.
I'm leaning against picking Nevada that high if only because preseason faves in the WAC tend to fall pretty flat. I doubt Hawaii can muster No. 2 again, the second spot might be a reach for Utah State, I'm going to need to see Kyle Reed complete a pass on purpose before I put SJSU there. That leaves Louisiana Tech and Fresno State.
Well, I'm low on LaTech. (So's this guy.) And Fresno State doesn't have a quarterback.
Drew: If Boise State isn't the preseason favorite, then I'm a monkey's uncle...and while I'm fine being the uncle of a muskrat or badger...I'll be damned if I'll have a monkey in the family. I mean, look at the facts...Boise State has ran the conference table with lesser teams and I am still trying to figure out how teams will be able to run or pass against our defense. Kellen Moore is nigh unflappable and doesn't seem prone to a sophomore slump. I can't see how the Bronco O-line could fail to be better than last year and Jeremy Avery and DJ Harper should be a very solid one-two punch. Boise State doesn't have letdowns...and it would be a huge letdown to not win the title with the talent returning.
I'm finished wringing my hands about Fresno...they implode year in and year out, and with no QB to speak of, I find it hard to believe they will even win their usual spate of OOC games. Ryan Mathews is a good back, but as far as I can tell, he suffers from that same disease that Samuel L. Jackson had in Unbreakable. Fresno will be lucky to finish 4th this year, although not having the crushing weight of high expectations on them this year might cause them to overachieve...but I'm not holding my breath.
Nevada has to come to Boise to end the year and although Kaep and Co. can hang some points, they didn't show that much in Reno last year against the Broncos, and without Kellsy tossing 2 pick sixes in the 3rd quarter probably wouldn't have made Bronco Nation break a sweat. Unless UNR's defense has had a whole lot of hypnosis sessions with Luke Lippincott's dad, I don't think they'll challenge Boise State for the crown. Besides, Chris Ault's coaching will intervene in at least one conference game and snatch defeat from the jaws of victory against a team Nevada has no business losing to. They'll tie for second place with La Tech.
Derek Dooley and his Bulldogs seem to have everyone's panties in a twist this offseason. Maybe it is because they were the only WAC team to win their bowl game, or maybe it is just because the Broncos don't always play so well in Ruston. Last year, I really felt like Louisiana Tech was going to give us a much better game than they did...I don't see them being 35 points better than last year against a better Bronco D. They'll hang around for a while, but ultimately come up short (14-27 points short).
Beyond these top 4 it's a snooze fest. Utah State will be better, possibly locking down the 5th spot in the conference. Idaho and NMSU will be terrible as usual (NMSU moreso), and San Jose State will be worse than last year. Tomey's bunch has lost some of its bite of defense and their offense was horrendous last year (except when Jeron Johnson "stepped out" for a play).
- Boise State: 8-0
- Nevada: 6-2
- Louisiana Tech: 6-2
- Fresno State: 5-3
- Utah State: 4-4
- Hawaii: 4-4
- San Jose State: 3-5
- Idaho: 2-6
- NMSU: 0-8
Kevan: I appreciate your well-reasoned arguments. That said, I choose anarchy.
What's the fun of having a preseason poll if you can't throw common sense out the window and mess some junk up? I call it the Troy Oppie approach. However, instead of picking a traditional bottom dweller to finish second (Utah State), I'm picking a traditional underachiever: the San Jose State Spartans.
I realize that I said above that I wouldn't pick SJSU until Kyle Reed showed competence in the pocket. But then it hit me. Dick Tomey can just start somebody else. If the man survived the Great Flood, he can certainly find someone on his team to complete a post-corner. The rest of the pieces are there for SJSU. I am 65 percent confident of that.
Below the Spartans, I have to put Nevada. Packfan has compromising photos of me in a Fresno State t-shirt.
Speaking of the Bulldogs, I have them in the bottom half of the conference by virtue of my intense dislike of them. But I have actual reasoning, too. I don't see Fresno beating Boise State or Nevada, and I think LaTech and SJSU will give them a tough time. Utah State, a team that I think will be better and a team that should have beaten the Bulldogs last season, could very easily be Fresno's fifth conference loss in '09. Or it could be their fifth conference win. I really have no idea. I'm just guessing here.
And that's the beautiful thing about the WAC this year: Nobody knows. We are in the midst of one of the most competitive WAC seasons in ages. Take Idaho and NMSU out of the conversation (which I did, placing them at eighth and ninth) and you have seven very solid teams that all have the potential to be bowl eligible if the right pieces fall into place.
I like San Jose State and Utah State to surprise people this year. I like Hawaii and Fresno State to be worse than expected. I like Dairy Queen Blizzards. Here are my picks for the final 2009 WAC standings.
- Boise State
- San Jose State
- Utah State
- Fresno State
And come December, when seven out of the nine teams on this list are in the wrong place, just go back up to the start of this post and stop reading after the second paragraph.
I warned you.