Our offseason sojourn keeps churning through the Group of Five. This week we are examining the Mountain West.
Here are the Mountain West standings.
against Nevada provided the margin of victory in their win against the Wolfpack and allowed them to steal the division when they beat Utah State in the regular season finale.
A Step-Back for Boise?
After compiling the YPP data for 2018, I was surprised Boise State ranked so low. The Broncos were not a bad team, but they did not have the profile of a dominant team either. Yet on the first weekend in December, they were once again hosting the Mountain West Championship Game for the second year in a row and third time in the game’s six year existence. To contextualize just how much Boise State’s actual record exceeded their expected record based on YPP, I went back and looked at all mid-major (non-BCS and Group of Five) teams since 2005 that exceeded their expected record by at least .300 (remember, I consider a difference of .200 significant) and finished with a conference winning percentage of at least .875 (7-1 in an eight game conference schedule). I added this extra qualifier because I wanted to look at teams that not only exceeded their expected record, but were also in contention for their conference title. In other words, I wanted average teams that finished with great records instead of bad teams that finished with average records. So how unique was Boise State in 2018? They were only the sixth mid-major team to exceed their expected record by at least .300 and win at least seven of their eight conference games. Boise and the other five teams are listed below along with their conference records the following season.
winless campaign when they surprised the nation by nearly winning Conference USA in 2005. Meanwhile, the Broncos have not won fewer than eight games in two decades. Still, they are losing a four-year starter at quarterback and their defensive YPP was the worst (in terms of actual yards per play and conference rank) it has been in the fourteen years I have been tracking YPP data. The Broncos will likely open as the Mountain West favorite when odds are released in the coming months, and they will be an even more prohibitive favorite to win the Mountain Division. I wouldn’t place a bet on one of the other teams in the division (Air Force, Colorado State, New Mexico, Utah State, Wyoming) to win it individually, but collectively, I would take the field over the Broncos to represent the Mountain half of the conference in the championship game.