2017 Mountain West Preview

The Mountain West has had two down years as Boise St has taken a step back and no one else has stepped up to stake their claim as the nation’s Cinderella. Expect more of the same this year. There are some quality teams, but none that stand out. Should be a tight 3 way battle in the Mountain division and San Diego St should have no issues winning the West Division.

 

For each Conference we will have the Simplified Football predictions (record) with the Projected Win-Shares and rating of each team next to it. We will also have Bowl Projections for each conference.

 

MWC Predictions:

Mountain

Team – Record (Conf)  /  Win-Shares (Conf)  /  Rating

  1. Boise State – 8-4 (6-2)  /  6.57 (4.9)  /  3.61
  2. Wyoming – 9-3 (6-2)  /  7.13 (4.73)  /  3.47
  3. Colorado St – 8-4 (6-2)  /  7.2 (5.2)  /  3.62
  4. Utah St – 6-6 (4-4)  /  5.42 (3.87)  /  3.23
  5. New Mexico – 5-7 (3-5)  /  4.61 (2.95)  /  2.79
  6. Air Force – 4-8 (2-6)  /  4.23 (2.73)  /  2.82

West

Team – Record (Conf)  /  Win-Shares (Conf)  /  Rating

  1. San Diego St – 8-4 (6-2)  /  6.89 (4.98)  /  3.51
  2. Fresno St – 5-7 (4-4)  /  5.41 (4.11)  /  3.36
  3. Nevada – 5-7 (4-4)  /  5.46 (3.83)  /  3.14
  4. San Jose St – 4-8 (3-5)  /  5-41 (3.98)  /  3.28
  5. UNLV – 4-8 (2-6 )  /  5.08 (3.48)  /  2.90
  6. Hawaii – 4-8 (2-6)  /  4.67 (3.24)  /  2.90

 

Boise St wins the Mountain West courtesy of a Tie-Breaker over CSU and Wyoming. San Diego St wins the West easily.

 

Championship game – Boise St beats San Diego St in the champ game.

 

 

That makes 5 bowl teams for the MWC

 

Las Vegas Bowl – Boise State

Arizona Bowl – San Diego St

New Mexico Bowl – Colorado St

Idaho Potato Bowl – Wyoming

Hawaii Bowl – Utah St

Mountain West Conference Preview and Predictions

For each of the conference Predictions I will put in both the Predicted Finish according to Win-Shares, as well as my own personal predictions (which are largely very similar).

 

MWC Win-Shares

Mountain

Boise State – 7.92 (5.67)

New Mexico – 7.54 (4.58)

Colorado St – 6.5 (4.27)

Utah St – 5.56 (3.86)

Air Force – 6.53 (3.79)

Wyoming – 4.97 (3.02)

 

Western

San Deigo St – 7.71 (5.05)

San Jose St – 6.7 (4.5)

Nevada – 6.42 (4.4)

Hawaii – 4.96 (3.07)

UNLV – 4.74 (3.01)

Fresno St – 4.21 (2.78)

 

 

Boise State over San Diego St for the MWC Conference Championship

 

 

Simplified Football Predictions

Mountain

Boise St = 8-4 (6-2)

Utah St = 7-5 (6-2)

New Mexico = 7-5 (5-3)

Air Force = 7-5 (4-4)

Colorado St = 6-6 (4-4)

Wyoming = 3-9 (1-7)

 

Western

 

San Diego St = 9-3 (7-1)

Nevada = 7-5 (5-3)

San Jose St = 5-7 (4-4)

Fresno St = 4-8 (3-5)

Hawaii = 4-9 (2-6)

UNLV = 3-9 (1-7)

 

SDSU over Boise St in the MWC Conference Championship

 

 

That is 6 bowl teams for theMWC (with CSU also eligible)

 

 

Las Vegas Bowl – SDSU

Idaho Potato Bowl – Boise State

New Mexico Bowl – New Mexico

Hawaii Bowl – Utah State

Arizona Bowl – Nevada

Poinsetta Bowl – Air Force

Week 2 Top Match-Ups

Last week was a very good start to the season getting all 6 games correct. This week there is only 5 match-ups, and one of them is a stretch to include in this. But there are 3 match-ups including Ranked teams, and 1 match-up of Group of 5 teams that could end up impacting the Playoff race.

 

Notre Dame @ Virginia

  • Notre Dame looked mighty impressive last week dismantling the Texas Longhorns. Virginia looked the opposite against UCLA. I included this game as I think there is a mild chance of an upset here with Virginia likely having a bounce-back game and looking better against Notre Dame than they did against UCLA. However in the end Notre Dame is just much more talented than UVA, and should pull away at the end. I do think Virginia’s defense will have some success against Notre Dame with Folston out for the year.
  • Notre Dame 28 – Virginia 14

Oklahoma @ Tennessee

  • I am a lot more bullish on Tennessee than most, and not sold on Oklahoma. Tennessee is more talented and is playing at home. A win here should solidify them as a top 25 team and people will start to talk about them in SEC East Championship circles. I don’t think this will be quite as high Scoring as many do. I think Tennessee out lasts Oklahoma and blasts Rocky Top all around campus all night long.
  • Tennessee 31 – Oklahoma 24

Oregon @ Michigan State

  • This is the biggest game of the day and the one with the most playoff implications on the line. A loss for either team could see them on the outside looking in, but won’t knock either from contention. Oregon is more talented overall, but Michigan State has quite a bit of talent. Both offenses looked very stellar and this should be a different looking game than last years. The score in this game could potentially get out of hand pretty quickly and perhaps approach 100. Although I think both offenses will be slow to start before gaining traction. Look for a very exciting 2nd half. In the end I think Oregon is just too much for Michigan St.
  • Oregon 42 – Michigan St 38

LSU @ Mississippi State

  • First SEC West match-up of the year. I do not think this one will disappoint. I am very high on LSU this year, and not so much for Mississippi State. However looking at the match-up I think Mississippi State matches up well with LSU and with it being at home (MORE COW BELLS??!!) I think Mississippi St could pull the upset. I think MSU’s front 7 on defense will be able to slow down Fournette and the LSU ground attack, which should severely limit what they do on Offense. In close games I like to go with the better QB. Miss St has the decided advantage in that category.
  • Mississippi St 24 – LSU 21

Boise St  @ BYU

  • Most when they see those 2 names would think you are going to get a lot of offense. However with Boise St having the #1 Defense (S&P) in the nation and BYU without QB Taysom Hill, and with Boise St’s offense looking pretty inept against Washington, I think this is going to be a low scoring affair.  This is a very even match-up with both teams having equal talent (slight advantage to Boise St). Both lines are matched up very evenly. I’m going with Boise St in a nail-biter, luck goes away from the Cougars this time as they fail to convert another Hail Mary (and luck stays with Boise St as they squeak out another win).
  • Boise St 21 – BYU 20

Week 1 Top Match-ups

Last year I finished the season 46-23 on my predictions, that is 67% correct. I will look to improve on that this year. This week there is only 1 match-up between ranked teams, however there are several others that are good match-ups and could figure into the Playoff picture (and several more that do not make the top 6).

 

  1. Washington at Boise St
    • This figures to be one of Boise States most talented teams ever, on the other side Washington has lost a lot of talent over the last few years. Coach Peterson has his work cut out for him there. Despite being a Group of 5 school Boise State is actually the more talented team. Add that to Boise State being at home and I am going with Boise State in this game.
    • Boise State 32 – Washington 24
  2. Louisville vs Auburn
    • Many expect Auburn to have a very explosive offense this season, despite many of their best on offense being gone. They certainly have the talent to reload and not rebuild. Louisville is rebuilding in Coach Petrino’s image and it will be a project. However they do have some talent (some transferred in) on defense and at least in the first half should be able to slow down Auburn’s attack. Auburn’s defense which has been atrocious in the last few years, has one of the top Defensive Coordinators now, and has recruited very well on that side of the ball.  Louisville does not have many play-makers on offense. Auburn will likely give up a few plays on mistakes and I like this game to be close through the first half. Auburn pulls away in the 4th though.
    • Auburn 34 – Louisville 21
  3. Arizona St at Texas A&M
    • Arizona State is a trendy pick to win the Pac 12 and be a playoff team to some experts. I don’t see it. I have them finishing 4th in the Pac 12 South (behind USC, UCLA, and Arizona). Texas A&M I feel could challenge in the SEC if they continue to improve on defense.  Arizona State was torched at times on defense last year, I see that happening again this year and in this game. Expecting a pretty high scoring game in this one. As both offenses out match the defenses. But with the 12th man behind them I have Texas A&M shocking Arizona State.
    • Texas A&M 45 – Arizona State 35
  4. Texas at Notre Dame
    • This Notre Dame team will surprise a lot of people. They are as talented as the squad that took them to the National Championship game a few years ago. Texas is still in the rebuilding process, but they do have a defense that was pretty good last year and should improve even more this year. The difference in this game however will be Texas’ lack of a QB/offense. After this game Notre Dame fans will be clamoring for Everett Golson at QB as Zaire will likely struggle some against a good Texas defense. However being at home, with more weapons and a better QB and more talent gives Notre Dame the advantage still.
    • Notre Dame 28 – Texas 21
  5. Wisconsin vs Alabama
    • Alabama looks as though they are going to have another juggernaut defense and a power running game, however their QB situation is very unsettled and has lots of question marks. Wisconsin is breaking in a new coach, in previous years it has taken them at least half of the season to start to gel and work together with new coaches, although they adjust pretty quickly. The biggest problem in this game is the match-up for Wisconsin. Wisconsin’s strength (it’s power running game) is exactly what Alabama excels at stopping. I don’t expect Wisconsin to have much room to run in this game and relying on Joel Stave to move the ball against Alabama is not a recipe for success. However Alabama’s offense will keep Wisconsin in the game. Look for a lot of running and a low scoring affair.
    • Alabama 28 – Wisconsin 17
  6. Ohio State at Virginia Tech
    • The game Buckeye fans and players alike have been waiting for all summer. REVENGE. Virginia Tech looked like they had derailed Ohio State’s plans at a National Championship run last year, obviously that proved to not be true as they ran the table and won the National Championship. However i’m sure it still stings in Columbus that Tech upset them at home last year. This year they have to travel to Blacksburg to face what is potentially one of the best defenses in the nation. They have a very solid front 7 that uses a lot of blitz packages to keep offenses on their heels, and perhaps the best Cornerback combo in the nation. Many expect Ohio State to run it all over Virginia Tech. We do not think that will happen, especially with some key WR’s out for Ohio State.  On the other side of the ball is where Virginia Tech has been lacking recently, and this year should be no better. They have not been able to find any consistency on offense in several years. The one thing that will be to their advantage is Ohio State is without perhaps the best defensive player in the nation in Joey Bosa for this game. In the end I expect Ohio State to pull this game out as I just don’t think Virginia Tech will be able to put enough points on the board.
    • Ohio State 24 – Virginia Tech 17

Group of 5 Notable Win Shares

Here are the teams of note from the Group of 5 and their Win Shares:

American:

Champion: Cincinnati 7.39 (4.89)

Mountain West:

West Champion: San Deigo St 6.97 (4.97)

Mountain Champion: Boise St 9.22 (6.71)

Boise St in Championship over San Deigo St with .67 Win Share.

NOTE: With their strongest team in the last few years and 2 Power 5 opponents on their schedule (both winnable) We could see Boise St crash the Playoff Party if they run the table. Long-Shot but better chance than anyone last year.

Conference USA:

East Champion: Marshall 8.83 (5.95)

West Champion: Louisiana Tech 8.34 (5.85)

Marshall in Championship over La Tech with .55 Win Share

Mid-American:

East Champion: Akron 6.47 (4.7)

West Champion: Western Michigan 6.56 (4.93)

Western Michigan over Akron in Championship with .55 Win Share

Sun Belt:

Champion: Arkansas St 7.04 (5.26)

Independents:

Notre Dame 8.8

BYU 7.29

2014 Group of 5 and Independent Preview

Last year Fresno State came very close to getting into the BCS.  This year everything changes for the Group of 5.  The American Conference goes from being an automatic qualifier (IE being recognized with the top conferences) to being recognized with the Group of 5 conferences.  The highest ranked team from here on out gets to one of the big bowls and a nice pay-day. Of course it is possible that an undefeated group of 5 team can make it to the playoffs, but they will have to win convincingly and/or beat a Power 5 school.

This year the top contenders for a playoff spot are Marshall, Boise St, UCF, Houston, and Cincinnati. Marshall has the easiest schedule, but no marquee matchups, so they have the best chance of being undefeated, but they will need to win big in almost every game.  Boise State has a game against Ole Miss to start the season, if they can win that game (provided Ole Miss does well in the SEC) and win convincingly against the rest of their schedule, they will have a good argument.  UCF has Penn State, Missouri and BYU, if they can somehow win 2 of 3 against that and win the rest, they are one team that has any kind of argument with 1 loss (still not a great one). Houston has BYU, so they will need to win convincingly against every opponent and win that game. Cincinnati has Ohio St and Miami (Fl), they like UCF could also have a weak argument for getting in with 1 loss if they win the rest big.  Of course a loss to any other team than one that finishes in the top 5, knocks them out.  With that said I think the best chance lies with Marshall going undefeated.

 

Here is a look at the top teams from each conference that should compete for the conference Title, as well as our picks to win each conference.

 

American Conference

HOUSTON:

Overall Rating: 3.91

AAC Win Share: 5.92 (overall 9.01)

CINCINNATI:

Overall Rating: 3.88

AAC Win Share: 5.86 (overall 8.11)

UCF:

Overall Rating: 3.61

AAC Win Share: 5.29 (overall 7.31)

 

Our Pick for Conference Champion is Houston, winning the tie-breaker over UCF and Cincinnati, All 3 teams get left out of Contract Bowls and Playoff.

 

Mountain West Conference

BOISE STATE:

Overall Rating: 4.05

MWC Win Share: 6.45 (overall 8.98)

UTAH STATE:

Overall Rating: 3.44

MWC Win Share: 5.09 (overall 7.61)

FRESNO STATE:

Overall Rating: 3.39

MWC Win Share: 4.90 (overall 6.39)

SAN DIEGO STATE:

Overall Rating: 3.26

MWC Win Share: 4.51 (overall 6.53)

 

We have Boise State facing off against Fresno State in the MWC championship game, with Boise winning.  Boise will contend with Marshall for the Contract bowl automatic spot, but fall short of the Playoffs.

 

 

Conference USA

MARSHALL:

Overall Rating: 3.63

CUSA Win Share: 5.85 (overall 9.42)

MIDDLE TENNESSEE STATE:

Overall Rating: 3.32

CUSA Win Share: 5.26 (overall 7.40)

RICE:

Overall Rating: 3.43

CUSA Win Share: 5.36 (overall 6.97)

UTSA:

Overall Rating: 3.37

CUSA Win Share: 5.23 (overall 6.71)

NORTH TEXAS:

Overall Rating: 3.34

CUSA Win Share: 4.87 (overall 6.66)

 

We have Marshall beating Rice in the CUSA Championship game, with Marshall winning and contending with Boise St for the Contract Bowl automatic spot, but missing the playoffs as they will not go undefeated.

 

 

Mid-American Conference

BOWLING GREEN:

Overall Rating: 3.44

MAC Win Share: 6.02 (overall 8.37)

BUFFALO:

Overall Rating: 3.30

MAC Win Share: 5.10 (overall 7.55)

NORTHERN ILLINOIS:

Overall Rating: 3.54

MAC Win Share: 6.30 (overall 8.40)

TOLEDO:

Overall Rating: 3.34

MAC Win Share: 5.09 (overall 6.82)

 

We have Northern Illinois facing off against Bowling Green for the MAC Championship, with NIU winning. However they will not make a run at a big bowl or the playoffs.

 

 

Sun Belt

USA:

Overall Rating: 3.26

Sun Belt Win Share: 5.21 (overall 6.31)

LOUISIANA LAFAYETTE:

Overall Rating: 3.22

Sun Belt Win Share: 5.55 (overall 7.28)

 

We have Louisiana winning the Sun Belt Championship, but falling short of the big bowls and playoffs.

 

 

Independents

NOTRE DAME:

Overall Rating: 4.35

Win Share: 7.21

BRIGHAM YOUNG:

Overall Rating: 4.05

Win Share: 8.48

NAVY:

Overall Rating: 3.48

Win Share: 7.76

 

Despite all of these teams (and potentially Army too) making a bowl game, none of them will come close to competing for a playoff spot.

 

Top 10 offenses:

BYU

Navy

Cincinnati

Notre Dame

Marshall

Toledo

UCF
Louisiana

Houston

Air Force

 

 

Top 10 Defenses:

Boise State

Notre Dame

BYU

Utah State

Colorado State

UCF
Houston

Cincinnati

Middle Tenn St

Rice