Being a few days removed from the hot takes and knee jerk reactions of week 1 of the college football season, I asked myself what conference had the best opening week. Trying to find this answer, I wanted to dive deeper into the games that took place this past Saturday.
At first glance the top of each Power 5 conference did what you would have expected and won big over lesser opponents. Oklahoma and Texas in the Big XII, Clemson in the ACC, Ohio State, Michigan and Penn State in the Big Ten, Alabama, Georgia, and LSU in the SEC and Washington in PAC-12 all won in typical top tier program fashion.
But each of these conferences had some shaky starts in week 1 too. In the Big XII, Iowa State barely snuck by Northern Iowa in triple overtime, Miami and Louisville lost marquee matchups in the ACC, meanwhile in the Big Ten, Nebraska struggled to beat South Alabama and Minnesota went down to the wire with South Dakota State, the SEC saw two big failures when South Carolina got mesmerized by the return of Mack Brown and lost to UNC but were out done when Tennessee lost to a Georgia State team which the Vols paid 950k to play and over in the PAC-12, UCLA lost to Cincinnati and Auburn gave Oregon, and the rest of the country, a heart attack by shocking the Ducks with a last second TD for shockingly awesome win.
Still, after all this I couldn’t firmly decide what conference had the best week 1. So, I looked outside of the Power 5 to see how the AAC, MAC, Conference USA, Sun Belt and other conferences had faired. Here is where I found my answer.
Upon looking at the Mountain West results, I realized that this conference pulled off four Power 5 upsets and played tough in every game on their slate. Going all the way back to the opening Thursday night, Hawai’i set the tone for the Mountain West by pulling off an upset over Arizona despite having six, yes six, turnovers. That momentum carried over into Friday night when Nevada pulled off the last second victory over Purdue thanks to a booming 56 yard field goal from freshman kicker Brandon Talton. Talton earned himself a scholarship as result of this game winning kick.
However, more impressive still were the upset victories by Boise State and Wyoming. Boise State beat a hyped Florida State in Tallahassee due to the game being moved from Jacksonville over concerns of Hurricane Dorian. The Broncos hung around in the first half but shut the Seminoles down in the second and scored 17 unanswered points to gain the win. This was all done with freshman quarterback Hank Bachmeier at the helm for the Broncos who remained poised and collected throughout the game in a very intimidating place to play. Lastly, the Wyoming Cowboys kept the Mountain West good fortunate rolling through the close of opening weekend by leaning of their defense to knock off Missouri. The Cowboys forced three turnovers and scored a defensive touchdown in the 37 to 31 victory.
To go along with these immense victories were a handful of games that the Mountain West representative kept close right up the very end. Utah State lost to Wake Forest on a last minute touchdown, Fresno State fought their way back to within one score of USC and Colorado State lost in a rivalry game with Colorado and anything can happen in a rivalry game. Even in defeat the Mountain West teams were right there and gave their opponents everything they could handle.
Look, I’m not saying that the Mountain West is the best conference in college football all of a sudden. I know they aren’t. What I am saying though, is that this conference should be taken note of and not dismissed as a lesser conference. The teams tucked away in this forgotten Mountain Time zone are pretty good and are only going to get better and could potentially pull off some more major upsets over the course of the season. From top to bottom, the Mountain West conference had the best opening week as far as I am concerned and if your team has a Mountain West squad on their upcoming schedule I would be a little bit more nervous than I was before the season began.