This week we take a look at the West coast. It is probably the area least important to Baltimore college football fans, but it still provides some exciting teams and games. It is also the last year it will look like it does now. Boise is moving from Wac to MWC; replacing Utah who will be moving to the new Pac 12 in 2011. So it is the last year for their conference compatriots to get a shot in before they go. As you’ll see I don’t think those shots will be very effective.
Before I move on, even though this is a football post, I must mention how great the O’s have been playing. I usually feel that baseball manager is the least important of the coaches in the four major sports. I think that for the first five innings they are usually just a spectator. What they can affect is the teams emotions and evidently Showalter has( at least for two weeks). So….. Go O’s.
FINAL WAC STANDINGS
1. Boise State
3. Louisiana Tech
4. Fresno State
6. New Mexico State
8. Utah State
9. San Jose State
Boise will win the WAC in their last go round. They are just plain better than everyone else in the conference and will be a BCS contender. When they enter the Mountain West they will gain some competition. But back to the WAC, the real fight will be for second place between Nevada, Tech, and Fresno. I am really excited about the QB/RB combo of Colin Kaepernick and Vai Taua at Nevada and I am most disappointed in the lack of progress made at Fresno State lately. Pat Hill is not as secure there as you may think.
Offensive MVP: Colin Kaepernick, QB Nevada
Defensive MVP: Ben Jacobs, LB Fresno St.
Best TE in the league: Kellen Bartlett, Utah State
Best SS in the league: Jeron Johnson, Boise State
Top Assistant: Steve Axman, OC Idaho
Kaepernick had a little bit of a down season last year after taking home MVP honors in 2008; but he still put up 38 points a game for the Wolfpack. He does it both throwing and running which forces teams to focus on him, opening up running lanes for his RB Taua. Steve Axman has built a highly successful offense in of all places Moscow, Idaho. That isn’t easy stuff, which is why he is my pick for the WAC’s best assistant.
FINAL MOUNTAIN WEST STANDINGS
5. San Diego State
6. Air Force
7. Colorado State
9. New Mexico
Utah versus TCU is the battle for supremacy in this conference. Each has made a BCS bowl appearance in the previous two seasons and when they play in Salt Lake City on November 6th, another may well be on the line. I think the development of Jordan Wynn and Eddie Wide on Utah’s offense combined with some significant TCU losses on defense will let the Utes head to the Pac10(12) with a final championship. In the tale of two second year coaches, I think SDSU’s Brady Hoke will begin to lead a resurgence of the once proud Aztec program; while New Mexico’s Mike Locksley might not see a year three.
Offensive MVP: Andy Dalton, QB TCU
Defensive MVP: Reggie Rembert, FS Air Force
Best TE in the league: Kendrick Moeai, Utah
Best ILB in the league: Carmen Messina, New Mexico
Top Assistant: Blane Morgan, OC Air Force
Andy Dalton will be forced to throw more this season since i think his defense will take a step back from the gaudy numbers they’ve put up recently. It is tough to be defensive MVP from the safety position, but in a throwing league like the MWC Rembert will get plenty of chances to ballhawk and lay big hits on wide receivers. UNM’s Carmen Messina led the nation in tackles last year and may well do so gain, since he is about the only bright spot the Lobos have.
FINAL PAC-10 STANDINGS
4. Oregon State
6. Arizona State
10. Washington State
When I said final Pac-10 standings, this time I really mean it. Starting next year when Colorado and Utah arrive we will have to get used to saying Pac-12. As for this final year in its current set-up, two unusual things strike me. One, USC is really not the favorite. There have been years they have seemed vulnerable; but this is the first year in a long time that they would be a surprise winner. I feel like I have them over-ranked at number two, but the two teams behind them have such glaring holes at RB and QB respectively; I can’t drop them down. The second oddity is when was the last time Cal had the potential to be this bad. Not often, since Jeff Tedford got there. I really like Jim Harbaugh as a head coach, I think he adds a couple of wins to Stanford’s ledger every year. Depending on what goes on this year in Ann Arbor, you could see Jim heading to his alma mater very soon.
Offensive MVP: LaMichael James, RB Oregon
Defensive MVP: Stephen Paea, DT Oregon State
Best TE in the league: Brady Camp, Oregon State
Best ILB in the league: Vontaze Burfit, Arizona State
Top Assistant: Nick Aliotti, Oregon
LaMichael James is my darkhorse candidate for the Heisman. Because of the QB situation at Oregon ( Masoli leaving) James will get an increased workload. I expect close to 1800 yards rushing. The one day he may have a tough time is when they play Oregon State and Stephen Paea. The 320 pound defensive tackle is a run stuffing machine and will be a very high draft pick next April. He just gets edged out by James for Off. MVP, but I feel compelled to mention Andrew Luck. I think he will have a tremendous season for the Cardinal, before moving on and possibly being the #1 pick in next years draft.
Next preview will be the Big 12 and Big 10, so all you Penn State fans get ready.