Mountain West 2013 Schedule Preview: West Division
By Joe Jenkins
A schedule will never completely determine the destiny of a team by itself, but things like long road trips, games on short rest and facing your rival on the road can make a promising season much harder to navigate.
With the Mountain West releasing the 2013 schedule, teams now know how bumpy the ride will be on the road to the Dec. 7 championship game.
Here's what each team in the West Division has to look forward to — or lose sleep over — this year.
If you missed the Mountain Division preview, you can get it here.
The Good: The Bulldogs have a favorable divisional crossover schedule with winnable games at Wyoming (Nov. 9) and hosting New Mexico (Nov. 23). They also play Boise State (Sept. 20) to start conference play, but the Broncos will be coming to Bulldog Stadium.
The Bad: Road games against in-state rivals San Diego State (Oct. 26) and San Jose State (Nov. 29) will be tough to handle. The Bulldogs beat the Aztecs at home last year in a 50-42 shootout.
Key Game: At San Jose State (Nov. 29). The Spartans and Bulldogs have been going at each other since 1921. Now the rivalry has extra meaning with a possible trip to the Mountain West Championship on the line. They last played in 2011, with San Jose edging Fresno 27-24.
The Good: The Warriors play four teams from California this season and all four will be at Aloha Stadium. Norm Chow has to be happy to avoid the Golden State. His team was outscored146-34 in three games there last year.
The Bad: Hawaii typically piles up more road trip miles than any other team, but this year might be a record. A visit to Annapolis to play Navy (Nov. 9) means the Warriors will travel more than 10,000 miles round trip for one game. The game is also set to kick off at 9:30 a.m. Hawaii time.
Key Game: At UNLV (Oct. 12). The Warriors early schedule is brutal and they could be heading into this matchup with a 0-5 record. If they can’t beat the Rebels, Chow’s second season in paradise could be a long one.
The Good: The Wolf Pack play their final two games at home against tough opponents in San Jose State (Nov. 16) and BYU (Nov. 30).
The Bad: New head coach Brian Polian will have to navigate a brutal road schedule which includes trips to Florida State (Sept. 14), San Diego State (Oct. 4) Boise State (Oct. 19) and Fresno State (Nov. 2).
Key Game: UNLV (Oct. 26). The battle for the Fremont Cannon is always circled on the Nevada schedule. It is one of only a few winnable games for the Wolf Pack in the first two months of the season. They'll need a victory if they hope to be competitive.
The Good: The Aztecs play fellow MWC favorites Boise State (Nov. 23) and Fresno State (Oct. 26) at home this year. The non-conference schedule provides winnable games against New Mexico State (Sept. 28) and Eastern Illinois (August 31).
The Bad: San Diego State’s other two non-conference games are significantly tougher. They travel to Columbus to face Ohio State in their second game of the season (Sept. 7) and host Oregon State two weeks later (Sept. 21).
Key Game: Fresno State (Oct. 26). The Aztecs lost The Battle for the Oil Can in a 50-42 shootout last year. The winner of this game will likely have the inside track to the West Division title.
The Good: The Spartans avoid playing Boise State in their first MWC season thanks to the schedule rotation. They also play San Diego State (Nov. 9) and Fresno State (Nov. 29) at home.
Key Game: Utah State (Sept. 27). The Spartans only had two losses last season, and one of them was to the Aggies. Revenge, and the ability to start conference play with a win should make for an intense early season match-up.
The Good: The Rebels could match their win total from all of 2012 (two) before they get out of September. Winnable games against FCS opponent Western Illinois (Sept. 21) and at New Mexico (Sept. 28) could give confidence to a team that really needs it.
The Bad: Road games against Fresno State (Oct. 19) and Air Force (Nov. 21) will be difficult. They also travel to Reno to face Nevada.
Key Game: Hawaii (Oct. 12). The Warriors smoked UNLV 48-10 last season. This game will be a good indication of how the rest of the MWC schedule will go for the Rebels.