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Stats Corner: What Are You Still Playing For?

Updated probability for winning the division and going bowling

Wyoming v Boise State Photo by Loren Orr/Getty Images

The last couple Stats Corner have covered the chances of teams getting invited to the Cotton Bowl, winning their divisions, and going bowling. Since then Boise State and Utah State both lost to BYU, Nevada beat San Diego State, and Memphis knocked off SMU. In other words, what should have happened did not happen. At the risk of causing more chaos, we are going to update the probabilities. Probabilities are from ESPN.

Boise State

The good news for the Broncos is they are favored in their final regular 3 games: New Mexico (96.1%), Utah State (66.8%) and Colorado State (83.9%). They have a 45% chance of winning out, an 87% of winning the division, a 75% chance of winning the conference, and should be favored in the conference title game. The bad news is they are ranked behind Cincinnati and Memphis in the only poll that matters, the CFB Selection committee. Cincinnati is 17th, Memphis is 18th, Boise State is 21st, and Navy is 23rd. That BYU lose is really coming back to bite the Broncos. Fortunately, Cincinnati or Memphis has to lose since they play each other on November 29th, however a win would most likely propel the winner further up the rankings. Cincinnati is favored against South Florida (80.9%) and Temple (88.6%), but not against Memphis (47.8%). Then there is the AAC title game, where the Bearcats would be playing SMU, Navy, or Memphis. The chance of Cincinnati winning out is only 23%, but if they do so, I can’t see Boise State moving pass them in the polls. Of course, Cincinnati needed to late scores to beat 3-7 ECU, so a loss is probable.

Also ahead of Boise is Memphis. The Tigers are favored the rest of the year against Houston (67.3%), South Florida (77.5%) and Cincinnati (52.2%). They also own the tiebreakers over Navy and SMU, so should they win out, they will represent the East Division of the AAC. The chance of winning out is in the single digits (9%), and winning the conference is at 16%.

The other threat to Boise State is Navy. They are favored in three games SMU (57.2%), Houston (61.1%) and Army (74.9%). The game they are not favored to win in Notre Dame (15.7%). However, a close loss wouldn’t really hurt the Midshipmen, and a win probably catapult them over Boise State, Memphis, and Cincinnati. Unlikely to happen, but crazier things have happened.

The best thing for the Broncos, is win out, and hope Memphis and Cincinnati both lose. While losing before the last week of the season would help the Broncos, having them split the last game and the conference title game would probably be enough to get Boise State into the Cotton Bowl.

Hawaii

When Stats Corner ran the probabilities of winning the conference, Hawaii was given a 34.3% of winning the West Division. In that article was the line “Probabilities … do change daily based on real-time events and changes.” One of those events was the Wolfpack beating the Aztecs. Now the Warriors are favored to win the West Division. They are favored against UNLV (60.8%), San Diego State (59.0%) and Army (65.3%). While there is only an 8.2% of winning out, the Warriors only need to win the next two or have San Diego State lose to Fresno State. That gives them a 61% chance of winning the West Division.

San Diego State

A week ago the Aztec were ranked in the top 25 and on their way to a Division West Title. Then reality hit them with a 2x4 name Nevada Wolfpack, a team that was given a 6.7% chance of winning. While the Aztecs are stilled favored against Fresno State, what was a 60.1% chance is now 55.1%, Hawaii is down to 41.0% and last week the chance of beating BYU was 51.6% but now San Diego State is the underdog at 42.1%. With just a 1.9% of winning out, the Aztec has must beat Fresno State and Hawaii to win the West, the chance of that happening is 22.5%. That is a huge drop from the 65.7% they had before Nevada. If they take care of their business they can still win the West and 22.5% is higher than the 6.7% chance Nevada had of winning the game.

Utah State

Good news for Utah State, you control your own destiny win out and you win the conference. Also good news, you are favored in two of the three. Bad news, two out of three is bad (sorry Meatloaf), and the game you really need to win is Boise State with a chance of 33.2%. Strangely, even with the loss of David Woodward, the chances of winning only dropped from 34.2% to 33.2%. Really think he is worth more than that. But the Aggies did only have a 46% chance of beating Fresno State, so 33% doesn’t seem as bad. The Aggies are favored against Wyoming (57.4%) and New Mexico (82.6%) so they should get 6 wins to go bowling, but back to back loses against Air Force and BYU will hurt their bowl prestige if they don’t win the conference. The changes of winning out are 13.1%, which is the chance of them winning the Mountain Division.

Air Force

The good news for the Falcons, they are heavily favored the rest of the year Colorado State (82.2%), New Mexico (91.8%), and Wyoming (74.8%). They have the best chance of any team to win out at 55.7%. The bad news, is that won’t be enough, they need Boise State to lose. They have a 4% chance of winning the Mountain Division. But hey, ask Evansville Basketball about having a single digit chance at winning, it could happen.

Fresno State

The Bulldogs need 2 more wins to get to 6. Fortunately, they are favored in exactly two more games. Underdogs against San Diego State (44.9%) they are favored against Nevada (87.1%) and San Jose State (66.6%). Their chances of going to a bowl game are about 62%. Although, no one should be looking past Nevada.

San Jose State

Like Fresno San Jose State need 2 more wins, but unlike the Bulldogs they only have 2 games. Favored against UNLV (59.8%) but not against Fresno State (33.4%). It seems like that on November 30th the winner between the Bulldogs and Spartans will be going bowling and the loser ends the season. Chances of going bowling 20.0%.

Nevada

If Hawaii loses all their games, San Diego loses all their games except Hawaii, and Nevada wins out the Wolfpack wins the West. Underdogs against Fresno State (12.9%) and favored against UNLV (55.8%) the chances of winning out is 4.4%. Combined with a 6.5% chance that Hawaii loses out and a 10.7% chance that San Diego will lose and win accordingly the chances for the Wolfpack to win the West come in around .003% chance, rounding up. At least they have claimed a bowl bid.

Wyoming

So close, an overtime loss to Boise State changes everything for the Cowboys. They have a slightly better chance of winning the division than Nevada, at .05%, but like the Wolfpack, the Cowboys are playing for bowl position. Underdogs to Utah State (42.6%) and Air Force (25.2%) they are most likely to only win against Colorado State (79.7%).

Colorado State

The good news for the Rams is they have won 3 games in a row and only need to win two out of three to go bowling. The bad news they are heavy underdogs in all three games Air Force (17.8%), Wyoming (20.3%), and Boise State (16.1%). The chances of winning 2 of them is 3.9%. Sorry Rams, don’t like your chances.