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Ranking 2023 Non-Conference Games, #49 to #40



Mountain West has 49 non-conference games on the team schedule this fall. We rank them all, starting at the bottom of the list.


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There isn’t much flash, but there are interesting angles.

49. Robert Morris vs. the Air Force

Why the game could be a drag: Although the Falcons will need to prove they can replace Haaziq Daniels, Brad Roberts and others, they likely still have a huge talent advantage over a Colonials team, which was one of four FCS teams to finish the 2022 season with zero wins. . . It might be a laugh, but the home team could take advantage of their depth chart to get some multiplayer replays.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: RMU may not have been as abysmal as its record last year suggests. They had a pair of one-score losses in the first half of 2022, returned an all-conference linebacker in the middle of their defense, and also restocked the roster with a number of transfer portal arrivals from the FBS ranks that could drive a change. .

A player worth tuning in to: LB Joe Casale

48. Utah Tech vs. Colorado State

Why the game could be a drag: Rams fans may not consider this a drag, but Utah Tech is definitely not Sacramento State. The Trailblazers had a bad year in 2022 and lost almost all of their WAC players to the transfer portal this offseason (including defensive back Tyrell Grayson, who transferred to…CSU). It could be an uphill road to competitiveness, which could mean Clay Millen and company are in for a field day.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: After last season’s lopsided loss to an FCS opponent, the Colorado State faithful may not be inclined to take any foe for granted. Since UTU also returns with a pair of all-conference defensemen, they could be upsetting if the Rams haven’t fully resolved their offensive line woes from last season.

A player worth tuning in to: LB Will Leota

47. Bryant vs. UNLV

Why the game could be a drag: The Bulldogs regressed last season after reaching seven wins in 2021, allowing at least 35 points in seven different contests. That could be very good news for a Rebels offense that appears to be fully equipped and will be highly motivated to start the year on a high note.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: Bryant could have a pretty potent offense. Quarterback Zevi Eckhaus has thrown for 47 touchdowns in his two years as the team’s starter, while Anthony Frederick and Ethan Gettman were named FCS All-Americans last year. The Bulldogs also took the Florida International to overtime, one of five losses by eight points or fewer, and the Eastern Washington debacle isn’t so far away that the Rebels want to look past Bryant.

A player worth tuning in to: WR/KR Antonio Federico

46. ​​Tennessee Tech vs. New Mexico

Why the game could be a drag: The Golden Eagles weren’t really competitive against the best teams they faced last year, going 0-5 against Kansas and a quartet of ranked FCS teams. Granted, the Lobos aren’t the Jayhawks and they have a lot to prove, but they dispatched Maine with relative ease in 2022 and should be in a position to do the same with TTU.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: If UNM really struggles again, the flip side of Tennessee Tech’s fortunes in 2022 is that they essentially broke even against everyone else on their schedule, finishing the season with five straight games decided by eight points or fewer and posting a record of 3-2 in that stretch.

A player worth tuning in to: LB Jacquez McGowan

45. Albany vs. Hawaii

Why the game could be a drag: After making the FCS playoffs in 2019, Albany hasn’t been able to regain that form, giving up over 33 points per game last season. Hawaii should improve in its second season under Timmy Chang as well, so last year’s struggles against Duquesne may truly be a thing of the past.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: The Great Danes have one of the best young quarterbacks in FCS and will certainly work hard to bounce back from their 1-5 record in games decided by eight points or fewer. If anything, this game could turn into a nighttime shootout on the islands.

A player worth tuning in to: QB Reese Poffenbarger

44. State of Sam Houston vs. Air Force

Why the game could be a drag: The Bearkats enter the FBS ranks after a 5-4 campaign, which may not sound too bad until you realize they won the FCS national championship just two years prior. His offense wasn’t as potent as it had been during his previous successful streak, which could be bad news against a Falcons defense that appears to be stingy.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: You can’t really rule out a team making the switch from FCS to FBS. James Madison got going last year, while the Liberty, Coastal Carolina and Appalachian State have set the bar high. What do you mean SHSU couldn’t do the same by defending their turf against the Falcons?

A player worth tuning in to: Gaiter LB Kavian

43. New Mexico State v. Hawaii

Why the game could be a drag: These two teams met in Las Cruces last season and the Aggies defeated the Warriors, building a 25-point halftime lead before pulling out a 45-26 victory. On paper, NMSU seems to be the better team as well, so there’s a chance not much has changed.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: The Aggies have a ton of defensive talent to replace with Chris Ojoh, Lazarus Williams, Trevor Brohard and others all missing, which means Hawaii’s run and shot could flip the script on last year’s tilt if the state of New Mexico is not prepared.

A player worth tuning in to: QB Diego Pavia

42. Cal Poly vs. San Jose State

Why the game could be a drag: The Beau Baldwin era never really took off in San Luis Obispo and now the Mustangs are starting over without their top offensive contributor from a year ago. Oh, and they also finished last among FCS teams in yards per play allowed in 2022, a fact the Spartans are surely loosening up about.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: One thing Poly may still have going for it is a passing game that averaged a respectable 7.4 yards per attempt last season and returns starting quarterback Spencer Brasch. If San Jose State has trouble generating a pass rush without Viliami Fehoko and Cade Hall, the Mustangs could definitely stay.

A player worth tuning in to: LB David Meyer

41. State of Idaho v. san diego state

Why the game could be a drag: The matchup between these two teams last year was fun and things didn’t get much better for the Bengals from there, ending 2022 with just one win. With a new head coach once again and an available roster that includes just six seniors, why not have more of the same this September?

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: Despite losing star linebacker Charles Ike, ISU might have the makings for a solid defense on its hands. If the Aztecs fall into some of the offensive brawling that plagued them early last season, this game could be a lot more competitive than expected.

A player worth tuning in to: RB raiden hunter

40. Portland State v. Wyoming

Why the game could be a drag: While PSU will get a couple of key pieces back from injury, the Viks will have to replace stars on both sides of the ball as they identify answers in a defense that allowed a whopping 6.7 yards per play in 2022. The Pokes could take advantage of that. weakness and make Laradise swing in a hurry.

Why the game may be more interesting than you think: The Viks nearly eliminated another Mountain West team, San Jose State, in their season opener last year. They also scared Hawaii in 2021 and will be put to the test after a road trip to Oregon that opens their 2023 campaign.

A player worth tuning in to: QB Dante Chachere