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Stats Corner: Probability of Winning the Division and Bowling

Using Probability to determine the chances of winning the division and going bowling

Air Force at Boise State Darin Oswald/Idaho Statesman/Tribune News Service via Getty Images

The final month of the football season is here. Some teams are playing for the conference title, some for bowl games, and some are getting playing time for next year. Last time, Stats Corner looked at the likelihood of teams getting a Cotton Bowl bid, and with Boise State and Utah State losing that list was destroyed. This time, we are running the probability of teams making the title game and getting a bowl bid. Probabilities are from ESPN, and do change daily based on real-time events and changes, so current numbers may be different from those listed here. Click on the school’s name to see up-to-date probabilities for each team.

Conference Title

Boise State: Another football season and Boise State is in the driver’s seat. The victory over Air Force was important, with two important games left against Wyoming and Utah State. The BYU debacle is confusing and so Un-Bronco-like and likely cost them a Cotton Bowl berth, although I’m still trying to figure out how BYU can get a touchback at the 25 yard line, have the ball short of the 35 yard line and still be given a 1st down. The Broncos are heavy favorites the rest of the year, with the Utah State game being the closest at “only” having a 65.8% chance of winning, and everything else being 80%+. Chances of winning out 39.4%. Chances of winning Mountain Division 84.6%

San Diego State: Win out and the Aztecs win the West Division. In fact, lose a game to anyone besides Hawaii and they still win the Division. At 7-1 the chances of a Cotton Bowl bid are possible, but slim. However, San Diego State still has lots to play for. Heavy favorites against Nevada (93.3%) and slight favorites against Fresno State (60.1%) and BYU (51.6%) mean the West Division is on the line against Hawaii. However, the Aztecs are slight underdogs currently at on 43.5% chance of winning. Chances of winning West Division 65.7%. Chances of winning out 4.8%.

Hawaii: The only challenger to the Aztecs in the West Division. The Rainbow Warriors cannot afford a conference loss to win the Division. Favored the rest of the season in every game, they should pick up one win to go bowling, victories over Fresno State (58.5%), San Jose State (81.5%), and UNLV (60.7%) would set up a game with San Diego State for the Division title. Currently Hawaii would be favored in that game at 56.5%. The Warriors are also likely to win against Army at 74.3%. Lose a conference game and the West title likely goes to San Diego State. Chance of winning the West Division 34.3%. Chances of going bowling 97.5%.

Wyoming: At 6-2 Wyoming is going bowling. They also control their own destiny, which is why they are slotted above Air Force and Utah State. All the Cowboys have to do is win out and they win the Mountain Division. Of course, “all the Cowboys have to do” means win at Boise State (18.5%), at Utah State (35.2%), and at Air Force (19.9%). The chance of all of that happening is 1.3%. At least, they should win the Colorado State (78.4%). Chance of winning the Mountain Division 1.3%.

Air Force: After dismantling Utah State, the Falcons are cheering for the Aggies to win against Boise State, and everyone else. Then three teams will have one loss all in the Mountain Division and tie-breakers can kick in. If Utah State beats Boise State and loses another conference game, then Boise State and Air Force are tied but tie-breaker goes to the Broncos. Already going bowling, the Falcons are heavy favorites the rest of the season, having an 80.1% of winning against Wyoming being the lowest probability. Chances of winning out the season 52.5%. Chances of winning out conference play 79.8%. Chance of winning the Mountain Division 8.5%.

Utah State: The Air Force game was bad for the Aggies, but they can still win the conference title by keeping with the theme of winning out. The BYU game is a toss-up at 50.3%, and while it doesn’t affect the conference race, it will play a role in bowl games and who gets the Wagon Wheel. With being underdogs at Fresno State at 46.6% (not sure about that one) and against Bose State, 34.2% the Aggies have their work cut out for them. Wyoming is more likely at win at 64.8% and New Mexico at 83.4%. Chances of winning out in conference play 8.6%. Chances of winning the Mountain Division 5.6% Chances of reaching 6 wins for a bowl game 84.1%.

Bowl Games

Fresno State: Sitting at 3-4, the good news for the Bulldogs is that they have 5 games to play and they need to win 3. The bad news, is they have no room for error. Underdogs to Hawaii (41.5%) and San Diego State (39.9%), they need to win the rest of the games. While Nevada is a great chance (90.4%) and so is San Jose State (69.8%), the bowl chances for Fresno may come down to Utah State where it is close at (53.4%). Chances of going bowling 27.6%

San Jose State: At 4-4 with a win at Arkansas, the Spartans have exceeded everyone’s expectations. But they need two wins to get to a bowl game. Huge underdogs to Boise State (10.4%) and Hawaii (18.5%), San Jose State will most likely need to win their last two games to be bowl eligible: UNLV (53.7%) and Fresno State (30.2%). Tough, but possible. Chances of going bowling 14.1%.

Nevada: Two wins, the Wolf Pack just needs two wins. The problem is, they are only favored in one game and that is New Mexico at 56.1%. Single digit chances are San Diego State (6.7%) and Fresno State (9.6%) are really long shots. Assuming a victory against New Mexico, Nevada’s bowl chances will rest on beating UNLV with a current probably on 44.7%. Chances of going bowling 16.9%.

Colorado State: At 3-5 the Rams need 3 wins. They have a 70.1% chance of beating UNLV, but are huge underdogs the last 3 weeks of the season as they have the 3 of the top 4 teams in the Mountain Division Air Force, Wyoming, and Boise State and are major underdogs in all three games, 18.9%, 21.6% and 13.7% respectfully. Chances of going bowling .8%.