Following is an alphabetical team-by-team look at the eight Mountain Division teams, their preseason rank, their 1997 results (overall record, WAC record, division finish), head coach (year, record), returning starters (offense, defense, kicking, total), four top players to watch and miscellaneous notes:
Rank: Third. 1997: 10-3; 6-2, second in Pacific Division. Coach: Fisher DeBerry, 15th year (108-63-1). Returning: 5, 4, 2, 11 total. Players: DB Tim Curry, QB Blane Morgan, OL Frank Mindrup, DT Bryce Fisher. Notes: Morgan, the younger brother of former Falcon QB Beau Morgan, is 10-2 as a starter . . . Air Force has blocked 42 kicks in the '90s . . . AFA is the last team to have beaten CSU - a 24-0 shutout.
Rank: First. 1997: 11-2, 7-1, Pacific Division and WAC champion. Coach: Sonny Lubick, sixth year (41-19). Returning: 5, 9, 1, 15 total. Players: OG Anthony Cesario, FB Damon Washington, LB Nate Kvamme, DB Myron Terry. Notes: The Rams have a nine-game winning streak, fourth longest in the nation . . . Washington and Kevin McDougal return after each rushed for more than 1,100 yards . . . All but two starters are back on defense.
Rank: Seventh. 1997: 3-8; 2-6, seventh in Pacific Division. Coach: Jeff Horton, fifth year (13-33). Returning: 8, 9, 2, 19 total. Players: WR Damon Williams, DE Talance Sawyer, OL Mike Reily, TE Sam Mineo. Notes: UNLV lost two games in OT and a third by a single point last year . . . Two-year QB starter Jon Denton has left UNLV after being suspended in February and is enrolled at Eastern Kentucky.
Rank: Fourth. 1997: 7-4; 5-3, second (tie) in Mountain Division. Coach: Ken Hatfield, fifth year (21-22-1). Returning: 5, 9, 1, 15 total. Players: RB Michael Perry, OG Charles Torello, DB LaDouphyous McCalla, LB Rashad Reynolds. Notes: Perry led the nation in all-purpose yards for eight weeks before being injured . . . Torello is a returning All-American . . . Owls still looking for that elusive bowl game.
Rank: Fifth. 1997: 6-5; 5-3, second (tie) in Mountain Division. Coach: Mike Cavan, second year (6-5). Returning: 8, 6, 1, 15 total. Players: RB Kelsey Adams, DE Luke Johnson, CB Jacoby Rhinehart, K Roy Rios. Notes: SMU was a win away from a possible bowl berth - and then lost to then-winless TCU . . . Look for a more diverse offensive attack from the Mustangs . . . SMU travels to Hawaii and Wyoming consecutively.
Rank: Sixth. 1997: 1-10; 1-7, eighth in Mountain Division. Coach: Dennis Franchione, first year. Returning: 8, 6, 1, 15 total. Players: RB Basil Mitchell, P/WR Royce Huffman, DE Aaron Schobel, SS Eric Anderson. Notes: After coaching New Mexico to Mountain Division title and bowl berth, Franchione brings 6 assistants with him . . . He also brings his multiple offense to revise one of nation's worst attacks in '97.
Rank: Eighth. 1997: 2-9; 2-6, seventh in Mountain Division. Coach: Dave Rader, 11th year (44-67-1). Returning: 7, 7, 1, 15 total. Players: WR Damon Savage, DT Ryan Farley, RB Charlie Higgins, QB/P John Fitzgerald. Notes: Golden Hurricane ranked dead last among NCAA's 112 defenses . . . Tulsa returns a 1,000-yard rusher, a 1,000-yard receiver and a 2,000-yard passer . . . Rader is in the last year of his contract.
Rank: Second. 1997: 8-5; 4-4, fourth (tie) in Pacific Division. Coach: Dana Dimel, second year (8-5). Returning: 8, 5, 1, 14 total. Players: LB Brian Brown, CB Robbie Duncan, P Aron Langley, OL Jeff Smith. Notes: The Cowboys were in the nation's top 23 teams in all six defensive categories last year . . . Wyoming will face eight teams with winning records, but four of first five games are at home.