We are just over the mid-point of October, so let’s hand out some mid-season grades.
Now normal posts would have A, B, C, D, F with some + and - thrown in. But here’s the issue; those grades don’t tell the full story as some teams are doing better than expected while others are worse than planned. For example, Hawaii is doing way better than everyone thought, but the past few weeks have shown they aren’t a great team. Should they be an A for outplaying their expectations, a B for their record or a C for how good they probably actually are?
So let’s do something a bit different. Like I said above, normal posts would have a standard letter grade. However, this is no longer a normal post. Therefore, let’s grade each team using O.W.L. grades from Harry Potter.
For those of you who don’t know the wonderful world of Harry Potter, they use 6 different grades. O for Outstanding, E for Exceeds Expectations (I’ll be using this one in two different ways, one for being very good and another for actually exceeding expectations), A for Acceptable, P for Poor, D for Dreadful and T for Troll.
Air Force: Acceptable
As the premiere triple option team in the conference, the Falcons are doing what they’ve always done. Winning a few games, losing a few games, but pretty much staying in every game. Of course they would want to win more, but they are pretty much doing what was expected of them.
Boise State: Acceptable
To clarify, 5-2 is not acceptable to their standards. And 5-2 for most of the other teams in the Mountain West may be better than acceptable. However, this was a team that many thought could compete for the NY6 Group of 5 spot this season. The loss to OkState was a “good loss” at the time, but that’s a distant memory now with those Cowboys sitting 4-3. Then the offense decided to forget how to play against San Diego State. Thus, the 2018 Broncos are merely acceptable at this point in the year.
Colorado State: Dreadful
To say this season has been a disappointment for the Rams would be an understatement. Yes, every loss is magnified now and fans may be overreacting to losing games they would be losing regardless, but it still hasn’t been a great season. Bobo’s health early on, QBs struggles, and a player leaving have also been no to great subplots. Dreadful seems like a fitting word here.
Fresno State: Outstanding
Someone forgot to tell the Bulldogs there was supposed to be a bit of a drop off this year. Or maybe they were told but they said, “yeah, screw that!” to that notion. Either way, Fresno State is playing at a high level right now. They are certainly the most balanced team in the conference, possessing both a consistent and solid offense with a great defense.
Hawaii: Exceeds Expectations
Using this grade to mean actually exceeding expectations. No one thought they would be a bowl eligible team this season. After so many players transferring, so few returning starters, and switching to a brand new offense that requires so much chemistry, expectations were set very low. Let’s be clear: the Warrior Rainbows aren’t an elite team in the MWC, but they are good, and they surprised all of us.
New Mexico: Poor
This team just scream inconsistency to me. While I think they are a bit better than their 3-4 record, it’s not by much. But to see a team go from destroying UNLV by putting up 50 points one week, to losing to Colorado State and only managing 18 points the next just won’t cut it. While they weren’t expected to be world beaters, and don’t have things going their way (coach under scrutiny entering the year, QBs shuffling in and out), the Lobos still aren’t playing well enough to be anything else.
And I give this grade in the best way possible. To me, Nevada is right on track in the Norvell era. They took some lumps last year, but have made improvements this year. They are competing in most games, and should end the year right on the verge of being able to make a bowl game. In short, they are right on track with expectations and should take another step next year.
San Diego State: Acceptable
This is the grade I’m probably least confident about. If those reading want to say they are playing at a higher level and put them at exceeds expectations, I’m cool with that. They are doing what they’ve always done; running the ball effectively even when you know it’s coming and a great defense that holds opponents below their average stats. However, I feel the Aztecs are playing with house money given their injuries and that four of their wins are by a combined 16 points. Supporters will point to their system working no matter the players and wins are wins. Both of those things are true, I’m just not sold on them being as good as their record.
San Jose State: Troll
Do I really need to explain? Being 0-for-the-season can’t result in anything other grade. To be fair, they are probably a bit better than their record. If you actually watch them, they have some really nice players, but Brennan is basically building from the ground up. They have played some really close games and if they got a few more bounces, they would probably have 1-2 wins right now. Alas, they do not have any wins and that is downright troll.
The Rebels are put here because they are 2-5 and many expected them to be better than that. They don’t look like a bowl team at this time. They don’t look like they’ve taken the steps of improvement over the years. They haven’t been winning the games they need to in order to put themselves in a good position. The road doesn’t look much easier either. Like many, I expected the winner of the Cannon Game to get to 6 wins and clinch a bowl. But UNLV isn’t even on pace for that.
Utah State: Exceeds Expectations
Using the grade hear to mean doing very well. Many predicted Utah State to be good this year and they are living up to that for the first half of the season. They have taken over Colorado State’s role as one of the four best teams in the MWC and came so close to pulling off a HUGE upset against Michigan State. The Aggies may not be quite in the same tier as Fresno State, but they sure are playing well.
In some ways, they similar to UNLV in terms of not living up to the hype unfairly placed on them this preseason. Remember when some were speculating this team could be better than the Josh Allen teams and that the offense wouldn’t drop off? About that. Still, with a defense that although not out of this world, it does keep them in some games and that was the fair expectation for this team. So acceptable they are.
Your turn: Agree? Disagree? Want to talk Harry Potter? Discuss in the comments section.