BYU, Utah and Utah State are coming to the end of their fall camps, so it's time to do the final preseason breakdown of the Aggies', Cougars' and Utes' 2014 football schedules before the season starts.
There's nothing way too early about this breakdown.
It's year four of independence for BYU, and the pressure is on for the Cougars to remain nationally relevent in a shifting college football landscape. They'll need to make the most of opportunites at Texas and at Central Florida to help their cause. Meanwhile, Utah has a brutally difficult Pac-12 slate to worry about this season. The Utes will face five teams ranked in the preseason AP Top 25. Finally, Utah State has a solid chance of winning its first Mountain West Conference title.
Here's the final breakdown of BYU, Utah and Utah State's schedules.
Aug. 29: at UConn
Sept. 6: at Texas
Sept. 11: vs. Houston
Sept. 20: vs. Virginia
Oct. 3: vs. Utah State
Oct. 9: at Central Florida
Oct. 18: vs. Nevada
Oct. 25: at Boise State
Nov. 1: at Middle Tennessee State
Nov. 15: vs. UNLV
Nov. 22: vs. Savannah State
Nov. 29: at California
TV: 5 p.m. MT, ESPN
2013 record: 3-9, 3-5 American Athletic Conference
Fall outlook: Former Notre Dame defensive coordinator Bob Diaco has his work cut out for him as UConn's new head coach. The offseason hasn't been kind to the Huskies, as leading rusher Lyle McCombs was dismissed from the team for repeated off-the-field issues. The pressure will be on sophomore QB Casey Cochran, who was just named the Huskies starter. Cochran helped UConn end the season on a three-game winning streak with 883 yards passing, seven touchdowns and three interceptions in those games. However, the Huskies are rebuilding at multiple positions, as UConn has to replace four starters on the offensive line.
TV: 5:30 p.m. MT, FOX Sports 1
2013 record: 8-5, 7-2 Big 12
Fall outlook: BYU will have the Longhorns' full attention this fall, after Taysom Hill ran for 259 yards and three touchdowns against Texas at LaVell Edwards Stadium last season. Texas isn't going to let that happen again at Darrell K. Royal Stadium. The Longhorns have a new head coach in Charlie Strong, and he has plenty of talent already at his disposal, notably at running back. The Cougar defense will have its hands full with Malcolm Brown and Johnathan Gray. That depth took a hit as Texas dismissed Joe Bergeron. Strong dismissed six players in the span of two days in July. The Longhorns have issues at quarterback, since David Ash broke his foot in spring practice. Ash was able to return to football in fall camp and will be the starter. On defense, the Longhorns should be much more familiar with the read option BYU used to trample the Texas defense for 550 yards rushing. This will be BYU's most difficult game of 2014.
TV: 7 p.m. MT, ESPN
2013 record: 8-5, 5-3 American Athletic Conference
Fall outlook: Houston will test BYU's secondary early and often in this game. The Cougars in blue should remember John O'Korn, since he threw for 363 yards, three touchdowns and three interceptions in last year's barn burner. O'Korn struggled late in the season in losses against UCF, Louisville, Cincinnati and Vanderbilt. That said, Houston has some excellent new weapons at wide receiver in Elton Dyer and Isaiah Johnson. Also, Deontay Greenberry returns after a 1,202-yard and 11-touchdown receiving season. On defense, Houston was excellent at forcing turnovers last season. The Cougars in scarlet led the FBS with a turnover margin with 25. While BYU should be favored in this game at home, the short turnaround after the Texas game will be a factor in what will likely be another high-scoring game.
2013 record: 2-10, 0-8 Atlantic Coast Conference
Fall outlook: The Cavaliers beat BYU to start the 2013 season and failed to win another game against an FBS opponent. Yes, there was a two-hour rain delay and this was BYU's first game under Robert Anae's new "Go fast, go hard" offense, but this loss hurt the Cougars more than any other last season. BYU should have a chip on its shoulder in this game, particularly after the ACC's new scheduling rules that don't count the Cougars as a "Power 5" opponent. Virginia head coach Mike London has named sophomore Greyson Lambert as the starter at quarterback out of spring camp. Lambert struggled on the field last season, completing just 33 of his 75 passing attempts for 340 yards with one touchdown and two interceptions. However, Kevin Parks is a threat at running back, rushing for 1,031 yards and 11 touchdowns last season. Virginia has more talent than its two wins from last season indicate, and if it can find a way to put it all together, this could be a dangerous team. That said, BYU has plenty of motivation to absolutely destroy the Cavaliers in Provo.
TV: 8:30 p.m. MT, ESPN
Record vs. BYU: 35-45-3 (Lost 31-14 at Romney Stadium on Oct. 4, 2013)
Fall outlook: Chuckie Keeton's 2013 season came to an end after Keeton tore his ACL against the Cougars last season in Logan. Keeton is back under center and he'll be looking for revenge when the Aggies travel to Provo, and he's a dangerous dual-threat quarterback. Utah State has improved a lot over the past few seasons. The Aggies have their first bowl-game winning streak after they beat a solid Northern Illinois team in the Poinsettia Bowl. However, Utah State lost a lot of talent to the NFL, including defensive backs Nevin Lawson and Maurice Alexander, both of whom where picked up in the fourth round of the NFL Draft. However, the Aggies return a lot of nice defensive talent, including Nick and Zach Vigil, Kyler Fackrell and B.J. Larsen. This team will be in contention for the MWC crown. With a nice balance of offense and defense, Utah State is the most dangerous team to visit Provo this season.
TV: 5:30 p.m., ESPN
2013 record: 12-1, 8-0 American Athletic Conference
Fall outlook: The Knights defeated Baylor in the Fiesta Bowl, but now they'll have to move on as QB Blake Bortles and RB Storm Johnson now both play for the Jaguars. That said, UCF returns nine starters on a defense that allowed just 362 yards and 21.3 points per game. While the offense will take a step back without Bortles and Johnson, the defense could be the difference in this game. UCF just named redshirt freshman Pete DiNovo as its starting QB. He has a nice trio of wide receivers in Rannell Hall, Breshad Perriman and J.J. Worton. This three-headed monster combined for 2,418 yards and 16 touchdowns last season. Make no mistake: this will be a tough game for the Cougars in 2014, even without Bortles and Johnson.
2013 record: 4-8, 3-5 Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: The biggest question surrounding Nevada these days is how can the Wolf Pack move on without Chris Ault on the sidelines. At least they have a decent dual-threat quarterback in Cody Fajardo, who passed for 2,668 yards and rushed for 621 more last season. Fajardo actually had a better 2012 season, with 2,786 yards passing and 1,121 more rushing in Ault's final season. Leading rusher Kendall Brock also returns, so Nevada has an interesting QB/RB rushing duo. However, Nevada's biggest problems are on defense, particularly with its undersized defensive line.
TV: 7 p.m., ESPN or ESPN2
2013 record: 8-5, 6-2 Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: The Broncos had a down year last season, at least compared with the high standard Chris Petersen set at Boise State. 2013 was the first year the Broncos didn't win 10 or more games with Petersen as head coach. Now, Petersen has moved on to the Washington job, and the Broncos are the biggest mystery on BYU's schedule with him gone. Will Bryan Harsin pick up where Petersen left off, as Matt Wells was able to do at Utah State after Gary Andersen took off for Wisconsin? At least Harsin has a nice QB/RB rushing duo in Grant Hedrick and Jay Ajayi, both of whom combined for 1,585 yards rushing. What's more remarkable is Hedrick didn't start in the first six games of the season. All the uncertainty aside, BYU cannot underestimate the Broncos on the Smurf Turf if it wants to win.
TV: 1:30 p.m., CBS Sports Network
2013 record: 8-5, 6-2 Conference USA
Fall outlook: Make no mistake: MTSU is no cupcake. While the Cougars handled the Blue Raiders handily at LaVell Edwards Stadium last season, this is a team that has gone to back-to-back bowl games. Middle Tennessee State has a new quarterback, but it has a solid RB duo in Jordan Parker and Reggie Whatley. However, the Blue Raiders are replacing three starters on the offensive line. While the Cougars should win this game handily, you can never look past a team like this on the road.
2013 record: 7-6, 5-3 Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: This is the first time BYU will play the Rebels since the Cougars left the Mountain West to become independent. UNLV will hope for a much better outcome than the last time it came to Provo, as BYU absolutely destroyed the Rebels 55-7. The Rebels just named Blake Decker as its new starting quarterback. He'll have his work cut out for him as he replaces Caleb Herring under center.
TV: 1 p.m. MT, BYUtv
2013 record: 1-11, 0-8 Mid-Eastern Athletic Conference
Fall outlook: This match is an acceptable home opener, but BYU's senior day unfortunately is against an FCS opponent, and a weak one at that. At least BYU has better home finales against Fresno State in 2015 and Utah State in 2016. Look for the BYU bench to get plenty of playing time in this one.
2013 record: 1-11, 0-9 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: Cal was No. 122 in scoring defense and total defense last season, giving up 529.6 yards and 45.9 points per game. Even though this is just head coach Sonny Dykes' second season, he has to be feeling the heat after winning just one game last season, and Cal athletic director Sandy Barbour stepped down just last week. Dykes must know that he needs wins, and he needs them now. At least the Golden Bears get DE Brenn Scarlet back after he missed 2013 with a nasty hand injury and infection. QB Jared Goff is no slouch, either. Goff passed for 3,508 yards and 18 touchdowns as a freshman last season. Expect a much-improved Cal squad this fall. This will not be an easy season finale on the road for the Cougars.
Aug. 28: vs. Idaho State
Sept. 6: vs. Fresno State
Sept. 20: at Michigan
Sept. 27: vs. Washington State
Oct. 4: at UCLA
Oct. 16: at Oregon State
Oct. 25: vs. USC
Nov. 1: at Arizona State
Nov. 8: vs. Oregon
Nov. 15: at Stanford
Nov. 22: vs. Arizona
Nov. 29: at Colorado
TV: 8:30 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network
2013 record: 3-9, 1-7 Big Sky Conference
Fall outlook: It's your typical season warmup against an FCS team, and Idaho State is the perfect victim. While head coach Mike Kramer has done some solid things at Eastern Washington and Montana State, he hasn't had much success in Pocatello so far, posting a 6-28 record over three seasons. The Utes need a tune-up game before getting into the brutal schedule to come, and this is one where Utah can work out some kinks early in the season.
TV: 1:00 p.m. MT, Pac-12 Network
2013 record: 11-2, 7-1 Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: This won't be an easy game against the defending Mountain West Conference champions, but it isn't the most difficult on the slate, either. This would have been a more interesting game if QB Derek Carr was still at Fresno and not playing for the Raiders, but the Utes would do well to not take the Bulldogs lightly. BYU transfer Joshua "Juice" Quezada returns as Fresno State's leading rusher along with Marteze Walker, both of whom combined for 1,416 yards and 13 touchdowns last season. The Bulldogs have some question marks on defense, but it should be plenty aggressive under head coach Tim DeRuyter. This defense made 108 tackles for loss last season. Protecting the quarterback from this relentless attack will be crucial for the Utes. The Utes need this win in order to go to a bowl game, and they should win this one in the friendly confines of Rice-Eccles Stadium.
2013 record: 7-6, 3-5 Big Ten Conference
Fall outlook: The Pac-12 has a long tradition of playing Big Ten teams, so it's no surprise the Utes will travel to the Big House as part of that tradition. Utah launched its special 2008 season with a win at Michigan Stadium. QB Devin Gardner is a dangerous dual-threat quarterback with 2,960 yards and 21 touchdowns to go with 483 yards and 11 touchdowns rushing. However, the Michigan offensive line has struggled over the past few seasons. If the Wolverines can put it together on the offensive line, however, it could be a long day for the Utes. Furthermore, Michigan just brought former Alabama offensive coordinator Doug Nussmeier on board. This will be a challenging but winnable game for Utah on the road.
2013 record: 6-7, 4-5 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: The Utes open Pac-12 play at home against a pass-happy Washington State squad. Connor Halliday is back, and he passed for an incredible 4,597 yards and 34 touchdowns last season. Utah fans will remember his 488 yards and four touchdown game against the Utes last season. WRs Gabe Marks, Dom Williams and River Cracraft are back as well, and they combined for 2,068 yards and 17 touchdowns in 2013. Washington State doesn't have much of a running game as the entire team rushed for just 694 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2013. So, Utah needs to find a way to slow down Mike Leech's air raid offense or they lose this game. This is a game the Utes needed to win last year to reach a bowl game, and the same probably holds true in 2014.
2013 record: 10-3, 6-3 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: The Utes are going to have their hands full with Bruin QB Brett Hundley and the UCLA offense. This is a game that Utah should have won last season, but the Utes squandered their opportunity with six turnovers. Now they have to find a way to win at the Rose Bowl against an offense that returns 10 starters. Containing Hundley will be the top priority as he passed for 3,071 yards and 24 touchdowns through the air with 748 yards and 11 touchdowns on the ground. While UCLA has to replace Anthony Barr at linebacker, it also has a solid secondary returning. The Utes can't be as careless with the ball as they were last season against the Bruins. UCLA is the team to beat in the rising Pac-12 South.
2013 record: 7-6, 4-5 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: Speaking of games the Utes let slip away, Utah came back from a 27-10 deficit early in the second half to force overtime after a last-minute touchdown run from Travis Wilson only to fall 51-48 in a heartbreaker. Sean Mannion returns at QB, and he came second in the NCAA in passing yards last season with 4,662. He also scored 37 touchdowns, which is the same as former Texas A&M quarterback and Heisman Trophy winner Johnny Manziel. Fortunately, the Utes have a bye week to prepare for Mannion and the Beavers. They also have to watch out for Oregon State's linebackers with D.J. Alexander, Jabral Johnson and Michael Doctor, all of whom are seniors, projected to start in 2014. This is another game the Utes cannot allow to get away if they want to go to a bowl game.
2013 record: 10-4, 6-3 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: USC is on the rise since the school fired Lane Kiffin after the Trojans lost 62-41 to Arizona State. Too bad the Utes played the Trojans almost a month after USC let Kiffin go last season. Now that Steve Sarkisian is at the helm in Los Angeles, USC looks to regain its lost glory, and it has the talent to do just that. The Trojans have found a solid quarterback in Cody Kessler, who shone in the Las Vegas Bowl with 345 yards passing and four touchdowns. USC is also solid on defense with DE Leonard Williams and LB Hayes Pullard back in the front seven and Su'a Cravens and Kevon Seymour in the secondary. This will be the toughest defense the Utes will have faced up to this point in the season, and quite possibly the strongest defense Utah will play all season.
2013 record: 10-4, 8-1 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: Taylor Kelly returns at quarterback, one of many dual-threat quarterbacks the Utes will have to try to contain in 2014. Kelly threw for 3,635 yards and 28 touchdowns while adding 608 yards and nine touchdowns on the ground. D.J. Foster is a nice up-and-coming running back with two 100-or-more-yards-rushing games against Arizona and Texas Tech late last season. However, the Sun Devils have some rebuilding to do on defense. All-American DT Will Sutton is gone, along with the rest of last year's starters on defensive line. Head coach Todd Graham has major holes to fill at linebacker and in the secondary as well. This team will probably take a step back from its 10-win season in 2013, but Kelly and the Sun Devils will be dangerous in the desert when the Utes come to town.
2013 record: 11-2, 7-2 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: Defenses all over the Pac-12 undoubtedly hoped QB Marcus Mariota would leave for the NFL after the 2013 season, but no such luck. The Honolulu native was remarkably efficient last season with 3,665 yards passing and 31 touchdowns to go with just four interceptions, and he can make teams pay with his legs with 715 yards rushing and nine touchdowns. Oregon also has a stable full of elite running backs, including Bryron Marshall and Thomas Tyner. Marshall and Tyner combined for 1,749 yards rushing and 25 touchdowns last season. While the Ducks have to adjust to life with a new defensive coordinator, Oregon looks as unstoppable as ever on offense and will be in contention for a national title in 2014. Oregon could be the No. 1 team in the nation when it comes to Salt Lake.
2013 record: 11-3, 7-2 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: The Utes played the best game of 2013 to take down the Cardinal last season, and Stanford will be looking for vengeance in Palo Alto in 2014. Kevin Hogan returns at QB, and he should be a dangerous senior under center after throwing for 2,630 yards and 20 touchdowns last season. The Cardinal lose a lot of solid talent on defense to the NFL, including LB Trent Murphy and S Ed Reynolds. However, the defending Pac-12 champions have the talent to repeat this season and compete at the top levels of college football. DE Henry Anderson, CB Alex Carter, S Jordan Richards and LB A.J. Tarpley were just named to the Bednarik Award watch list. Utah will have to play a perfect game to beat the Cardinal this year.
2013 record: 8-5, 4-5 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: Head coach Rich Rodriguez has yet to name a starting quarterback for 2014, although Anu Solomon has reportedly received the majority of the snaps with the first-team offense. However, the biggest loss from last year's roster is RB Ka'Deem Carey. Carey rushed for 1,885 yards and 19 touchdowns last season. Worse, none of Arizona's three top rushers return in 2014. While there's plenty of talent on this team, it's short in experience at a lot of key positions. However, at least the Wildcats return four starters on the offensive line, and their defense has steadily improved during Rodruigez' time in Tucson.
2013 record: 4-8, 1-8 Pac-12 Conference
Fall outlook: The Utes close out the season at Colorado. The Buffaloes have also struggled to make the transition to the Pac-12. Sefo Liufau returns at quarterback after taking over the starting position as a true freshman six games into the season and should be much improved after his baptism by fire last season. Colorado also has a nice pair of RBs in Christian Powell and Michael Adkins III, but WR Paul Richardson leaves a massive hole after catching 83 passes for 1,343 yards and 10 touchdowns last season. This team has some nice young talent on defense with Addison Gillam returning at linebacker. All of this said, Colorado still has plenty of question marks on both sides of the ball. Head coach Mike MacIntyre will need an additional year or two to make Colorado into a true competitor in the Pac-12.
Aug. 31: at Tennessee
Sept. 6: vs. Idaho State
Sept. 13: vs. Wake Forest
Sept. 20: at Arkansas State
Oct. 3: at BYU
Oct. 11: vs. Air Force
Oct. 18: at Colorado State
Oct. 25: vs. UNLV
Nov. 1: at Hawaii
Nov. 7: at Wyoming
Nov. 15: vs. New Mexico
Nov. 21: vs. San Jose State
Nov. 29: at Boise State
TV: 5:00 p.m. MT, SEC Network
2013 record: 5-7, 2-6 SEC
Fall breakdown: Stealing a win in SEC country is never an easy task. However, the Volunteers have fallen on tough times and are currently a mere shadow of what they used to be during Phillip Fulmer's heyday. At least head coach Butch Jones appears to have the program going back in the right direction. Tennessee's biggest question mark is in the trenches, as it has to replace practically the entire offensive and defensive lines. Still, a place like Tennessee has plenty of talent. A.J. Johnson is a first team All-SEC linebacker who made 106 tackles last season with 8.5 of them for loss. QB Justin Worley also has shown flashes of potential. This will be a difficult but winnable game against an SEC team on the road for the Aggies.
TV: 6:00 p.m. MT, MWN
2013 record: 3-9, 1-7 Big Sky Conference
Fall breakdown: Easy win at home vs. an FCS opponent. This team lost 32-7 to Weber State last season, a team that finished 2-10. Expect to see most of Utah State's second and third string in the second half of this game.
TV: 5:00 p.m. MT, CBS Sports Network
2013 record: 4-8, 2-6 ACC
Fall outlook: New head coach Dave Clawson has quite a mess to clean up at Wake Forest. Clawson's an expert at rebuilding programs, but he's going to need more than just one offseason to fix what ails the Demon Deacons. Wake Forest is still searching for a starting quarterback, and true freshman John Wolford was just named the Demon Deacons' starting QB. Wake Forest has a decent secondary with senior CBs Merrill "Bud" Noel and Kevin Johnson both coming back. However, this team has only 10 total returning starters. Utah State should be able to handle the Demon Deacons in Logan without too much of a problem.
2013 record: 8-5, 5-2 Sun Belt Conference
Fall outlook: Arkansas State has become a revolving door for head coaches these days. Blake Anderson is the Red Wolves' seventh head coach over the past five years, including interim head coaches. However, Arkansas State has done reasonably well despite the coaching carousel spinning out of control with a eight-win season last year. The strength of this team is in its secondary, as every member of last year's two-deep chart returns. The Red Wolves need to break in a new starting quarterback, likely last year's backup Fredi Knighten. Arkansas State has some nice returning players at RB and WR in Michael Gordon and J.D. McKissic. This team will be something of an unknown with new coaching staff, but there's enough talent here for them to be dangerous to Utah State, particularly on the road.
TV: 8:15 MT, ESPN
2013 record: 8-5, FBS Independent
Fall outlook: The Cougars embarrassed Utah State 31-14 in Logan last year, and the Aggies lost QB Chuckie Keeton to a season-ending knee injury in the process. While this rivalry has become a bit closer in the past few seasons, Utah State hasn't won a game in Provo since 1978. BYU returns one of the most dangerous QB/RB duos in the country in Taysom Hill and Jamaal Williams, both of whom combined for 2,577 yards rushing and 17 touchdowns last season. The Cougars also have a dangerous group of wide receivers led by Mitch Mathews and UTEP transfer Jordan Leslie. However, the Cougars lost key players such as LB Kyle Van Noy, WR Cody Hoffman, LB Uani 'Unga and S Daniel Sorensen. This should be an interesting battle at LaVell Edwards Stadium this season.
TV: TBA (ESPN network)
2013 record: 2-10, 0-8 Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: Air Force had a meltdown last season, particularly on defense, leading them to a two-win season. The Falcons finished No. 114 in total defense and No. 116 in scoring defense. This team should be much improved, however. Master prognosticator Phil Steele wrote in his 2014 College Football Preview that this year's Falcons would be a two-touchdown favorite over last year's sorry squad. That said, Utah State should be able to stop the Falcons' option attack at home.
TV: 5:00 p.m., CBS Sports Network
2013 record: 8-6, 5-3 Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: The Rams appear to be headed back in the right direction under former Alabama offensive coordinator Jim McElwain after returning to a bowl game for the first time since 2008 and winning eight games for the first time since 2002. QB Garrett Grayson returns after an excellent performance against Washington State to win the New Mexico Bowl. Grayson passed for 3,696 yards and 23 touchdowns in 2013, but he did have his rough games. Utah State held Grayson to just 147 yards passing and forced two interceptions while allowing no passing touchdowns last year in Logan. The Rams are having to start pretty much from scratch at running back, and they also have to replace four starters on the offensive line, but they have a solid linebacker group with Max Morgan and Aaron Davis both back. The secondary needs some work, though, as they got beat deep all too often last season.
2013 record: 7-6, 5-2, Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: UNLV's 2014 outlook certainly brightened after the Rebels learned they wouldn't receive a bowl ban after all for their poor academic progress rate score. That said, the Rebels face an uphill battle to return to a bowl game with starting QB Caleb Herring and leading rusher RB Tim Cornett both gone. UNLV also needs to replace four of its top five tacklers from last season. This team probably won't return to a bowl game this season.
TV: 9:00 p.m. MT, MWN
2013 record: 1-11, 0-8 Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: 2014 will be Norm Chow's last chance to prove himself as a head coach after a 4-20 overall record and a 1-15 record in MWC play over two seasons at Hawaii. This team returns nine offensive linemen, but the Warriors need some serious help on defense. Hawaii gave up 38.8 points per game last season. Containing a quarterback like Chuckie Keeton will be a serious problem for Chow and the Warriors. This team will be better than last season for the simple reason that this team has nowhere to go but up.
TV: 6:00 p.m. MT, ESPN2
2013 record: 5-7, 3-5 Mountain West Conference
Fall outlook: Craig Bohl put together a dynasty at North Dakota State with three national titles and an impressive 104-32 record. He'll have his work cut out for him as he takes his first head coaching job at the FBS level. He has a new starting quarterback to break in, but at least he has some big-play players in RB Shaun Wick and WR Dominic Rufran. The defense has a long way to go as the Cowboys gave up an average of 36.7 points per game last season. Bohl's proven that he's an exceptional coach at the FCS level, but it would take a miracle to have this year's Cowboys ready for a solid Utah State squad in just one year.
2013 record: 3-9, 1-7 MWC
Fall outlook: The last time New Mexico went to a bowl, it was 2007. The Lobos had to suffer through the horrible Mike Locksley period before Bob Davie arrived. Davie has a 7-18 record over two seasons. The Lobos' defense needs some serious help after giving up 42.8 points per game last season. The strength of this team is its stable of running backs. Cole Gautsche is an interesting dual-threat quarterback who could really cause Utah State problems if he can stay healthy. Last season he rushed for 777 yards despite starting in just five games. This team could flirt with six wins if it could find a way to improve its dreadful defense.
TV: 7:30 p.m. MT, ESPN2
2013 record: 6-6, 5-3 MWC
Fall outlook: It's always difficult to replace a quarterback that passed for 4,189 yards and 33 touchdowns last season, and unfortunately for the Spartans, David Fales is now with the Chicago Bears. At least SJSU has a nice group of running backs led by Jarrod Lawson and Thomas Tucker. The defense has one of the most dangerous pass rushers in the conference in Christian Tago. Blake Jurich and Joe Gray are both expected to play this season, and neither QB looks like a sure-fire replacement of Fales. That said, if they can do a solid if not stellar job in 2014, this could be a surprise team in the conference.
2013 record: 8-5, 6-2 MWC
Fall outlook: Don't be surprised if this game decides the Mountain Division. A trip to the MWC championship game will likely be on the line when Utah State heads to Boise. The Chris Petersen era has come to an end, but you can't look past this team. That's especially true for the Aggies as they must face the Broncos on the Smurf Turf. Jay Ajayi returns at running back after rushing for 1,425 yards and 18 touchdowns last season. QB Grant Hedrick is mobile himself, rushing for 277 yards and six touchdowns despite the fact he didn't start untill game seven. This will be a de-facto division title game if all goes as predicted.
Lafe Peavler is a staff sports writer for the Deseret News. Follow him on Twitter @LafePeavler.