Louisiana Tech surged to a WAC title last year and appears to be the class of what's left of the conference this year. Just how far can Sonny Dykes take the Bulldogs this year, and how far will that take them in the grand game of conference realignment?
Gary Andersen led Utah State to just its third bowl in 50 years in 2011. Is his Aggie program solid enough to withstand some losses in the backfield and consolidate its gains? And with the changes in the mid-major landscape, could this improvement have been any more well-timed?
San Jose State was fast, fun and incredibly unstable in 2011. Can third-year head coach Mike McIntyre tamp down on the turnovers and take the Spartans to just their second bowl since 1990 in an unstable WAC this fall?
Robb Akey's Idaho Vandals kept their heads above water for a while, winning 12 of 20 games from 2009 to mid-2010. But since then, they have gone just 4-14 and, thanks to an inability to make big plays on offense, fallen apart in close games. Can a fresh, young offensive coordinator buy Akey more time in Moscow?
New Mexico State took a definitive step forward in 2011, DeWayne Walker's third as head coach, but they must replace almost every difference-maker from last year's squad. Can Walker survive a step backwards in a year where conference realignment has created quite a bit of "Win now" pressure?
Years of preparation? Who needs 'em? Not the WAC's UTSA, which takes the FBS plunge in just its second year of existence. Coach Larry Coker has some intriguing pieces with which to work, but does he have enough of them to justify this ambitious a move?
The Texas State Bobcats join the FBS ranks in 2012. A healthy run game and some weak links on the schedule should assure Dennis Franchione and company of a win or two, but a defense that allowed too many big plays at the FCS level last year will probably find the going quite rough this fall.