Which Mountain West Teams Are Among the Top 10 Mid Majors in College Football This Year

It’s been an unusual football season in the Mountain West with some traditional powers struggling and new teams taking center stage. With the conference standings looking a little different, how does the Mountain West stack up with the rest of the country? Well, we decided to put together a ranking of the top 10 mid-major teams in the country this season. Let’s see how many Mountain West teams made it onto our list.

10. Troy

Even with a couple of weeks left in the regular season, the Trojans know they’ll be playing for a Sun Belt title. In that game, Troy will have a chance to avenge a two-point loss to James Madison early in the season. Other than a loss to Kansas State, that’s the only blemish on Troy’s resume, as the Trojans have been perfect since late September and boast one of the top-10 defenses in the country, giving up 10 points or less four times this year.

9. Air Force

What can you say about Air Force in 2023? The Falcons started the season with eight consecutive wins before being tripped up against Army. Time will tell if they’re able to finish strong, but the way they’ve run the ball and played defense deserves some recognition.

8. Miami (Ohio)

Somewhat quietly, Chuck Martin has built a stable and consistent program at Ohio. The RedHawks have already clinched their fourth bowl appearance in the last five games. They also have a shot to return to the MAC Championship Game for the first time since 2016 and win 10 games. Miami’s defense is for real, holding all MAC opponents to 21 points or less, which is why they stand out amongst the top mid-major programs.


Out of nowhere, the Rebels have burst onto the season in Barry Odom’s first season. Keep in mind that UNLV’s last winning season came in 2013, so it’s a big deal what the Rebels have done this year, giving themselves a chance to play for the Mountain West title. The Rebels had a power-five win over Vanderbilt early in the season. Also, that 35-7 loss to Michigan is closer than some Big Ten teams have managed.

6. SMU

Is the Pony Express back? Well, it might be with the Mustangs among the most dynamic offensive teams in the country. At the same time, SMU is a top-10 defensive team nationally, holding all of their AAC foes to 21 points or less. Unfortunately for the Mustangs, they couldn’t take advantage of their opportunities against Oklahoma and TCU, losing both games against power-conference opponents. But SMU has been otherwise impressive this year and still has a chance to play for the AAC championship.

5. Liberty

The Flames are close to a perfect season in Jamey Chadwell’s first season at the helm. They also have a chance to win the Conference USA title during their first season in the league. Of course, we respect the perfect record. But C-USA isn’t what it used to be and Liberty’s schedule doesn’t include a power-conference opponent. That’s why the Flames don’t rank quite as high as you might think.

4. Toledo

Those who follow the MAC know Toledo is no stranger to being at the top of the conference standings. In the world of Ohio sports betting, the Rockets sometimes get overlooked by Ohio State. But outside of losing to Illinois on a last-second field goal to open the season, the Rockets have been perfect. They also know they’ll be in the MAC Championship Game, playing for a chance to win back-to-back conference titles.

3. James Madison

Is this seriously James Madison’s second season at the FBS level? The Dukes look like they’ve been dominating the Sun Belt for a long time because they are head and shoulders above the pack. To be fair, three of their 10 wins have come by three points or less, so there have been some close calls. But they’ve won every game, including a victory over ACC and in-state foe Virginia, giving the Dukes tons of credibility.

2. Fresno State

The Bulldogs are certainly no stranger to being among the best mid-major teams in the country. Jeff Tedford won 10 games in his return to Fresno State last year and could match or exceed that win total in 2023. The Bulldogs have fallen victim to a couple of Mountain West teams on the road this season. But they also have road wins over Purdue and Arizona State. No other mid-major can claim multiple wins over power-conference opponents, and that carries a lot of weight.

1. Tulane

While there is a good debate to be had, we believe the Green Wave is the best mid-major in the conference this year. Tulane’s only loss came early in the season against Ole Miss in a game where the Green Wave stayed competitive. While they haven’t quite blown out teams, staying unbeaten in the American Athletic Conference isn’t easy, which is why the Green Wave gets the nod over the other contenders for the top mid-major program in 2023.

Story originally appeared on Mountain West Wire