Mountain West power ratings: Fresno State, Wyoming on top after upsets of Power Five foes

The Bulldogs went into Big Ten country and stunned Purdue in the final minute

Welcome to the Mountain West power rankings, which begin with a brief backstory.

Last season, the Hotline published weekly ‘Best of the West’ power ratings that included teams from the Mountain West and Brigham Young in addition to the Pac-12. The exercise provided context for the Pac-12’s performance and proved so popular — as did the basketball version, which included the West Coast Conference — that we’re adding a Mountain West-specific column to our lineup this season.

Furthermore, half of the teams in the MW are located in the coverage zones of the Hotline’s syndication partners in the country’s western third. (The San Diego Union-Tribune is the most recent publication to feature our content.)

Every Monday, the power ratings will be published in this space.

1. Fresno State (1-0)

Result: won at Purdue 39-35

Next up: vs. Eastern Washington

Comment: The Hotline isn’t ready to say that Mikey Keene is like Jake Haener. We’re pretty close, though, with 366 yards, four touchdowns, and that drive that won the game in West Lafayette.

2. Wyoming (1-0)

Result: beat Texas Tech 35-33

Next up: vs. Portland State

Comment: During the Cowboys’ thrilling comeback, there were too many big plays to count. But here’s one that might be missed: Tyler Shough was sacked by DeVonne Harris on the first play of TTU’s third drive. This set up a second-and-16 and made the Red Raiders settle for a field goal (17-0, giving Wyoming some stability) instead of a possible touchdown (21-0, causing the game to fall apart completely).

3. Boise State (0-1)

Result: lost at Washington 56-19

Next up: vs. UCF

Comment: There was no way we thought the Broncos would keep Washington under 40 points. We thought they would score more than 20. Quite a bit more, in fact.

4. San Diego State (2-0)

Result: beat Idaho State 36-28

Next up: vs. UCLA

Comment: t’s better to be 2-0 than 1-1 or 0-2. Wow, we’re not impressed at all.

5. Air Force (1-0)

Result: beat Robert Morris 42-7

Next up: at Sam Houston

Comment: Looking at the Falcons’ schedule, it looks like they will be unbeaten going into a tough back-to-back against SDSU and Wyoming at the end of the month.

6. UNLV (1-0)

Result: beat Bryant 44-14

Next up: at Michigan

Comment: Not-so-bold guess: This is the highest spot the Rebels will reach in the 2023 power rankings.

7. Utah State (0-1)

Result: lost at Iowa 24-14

Next up: vs. Idaho State

Comment: The real score is not nearly as good as it looks. Giving Iowa 24 points is the same as giving anyone else 50 points.

8. San Jose State (0-2)

Result: lost to Oregon State 42-17

Next up: vs. Cal Poly

Comment: People say that teams get better from the first game of the season to the second, but the Spartans looked worse on Sunday than they did in their first game, which was at USC.

9. Colorado State (0-1)

Result: lost to Washington State 50-24

Next up: idle, then at Colorado

Comment: What’s good is that CSU should play the Buffaloes when they are tired after their back-to-back games against TCU and Nebraska.

10. Nevada (0-1)

Result: lost at USC 66-14

Next up: vs. Idaho

Comment: Brendon Lewis is a quarterback who is new to Nevada but not a rookie. He threw more than 250 passes at Colorado. That guy needs to play like a pro soon, or the Wolfpack’s season will end quickly.

11. Hawaii (0-2)

Result: lost to Stanford 37-24

Next up: vs. Albany

Comment: When people talk about seasons falling apart quickly…

12. New Mexico

Result: lost at Texas A&M 52-10

Next up: vs. Tennessee Tech

Comment: From what we know so far about MW teams, which is admittedly very little, the race to the bottom will be very tough.

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