Welcome to another postseason review post. Way back in August, this post looked at what were some of the main factors that could qualify the 2019 football season a success for the Mountain West Conference. Now that the season has concluded, it’s time to revisit those factors to see whether or not the MWC had a successful season. Let’s dive in.
Strong Showing Against Power 5 Teams
Preseason: 5-6 wins would make this area a success.
No one could have imagined how grand the Mountain West would be against teams from Power 5 conferences this season.
Final records vs. Power 5 non-conference opponents/Notre Dame:— Brett McMurphy (@Brett_McMurphy) December 2, 2019
Mountain West 9-10
Notre Dame 7-2
Big 12 6-4
Big Ten 4-5
Sun Belt 4-8
*Doesn't include UNC-Wake contest
MWC teams pulled off some big upsets (Nevada over Purdue, SJSU over Arkansas, and UNLV over Vanderbilt). Some wins weren’t as surprising mainly because they were viewed as an equal or stronger team going in (Boise State over Florida State, Air Force over Colorado, Hawaii over Arizona and Oregon State, as well as SDSU over UCLA). In some ways, that is more impressive that the Mountain West has a better reputation going for them. Even if some of these teams had bad years, it gave the MWC much needed national attention and gave teams respectable wins. A future article will go into more depth with each of their P5 wins and losses.
Bowl Eligible Teams
Preseason: 6 bowl eligible teams would be considered a success.
The Mountain West continues to have a strong top half of its league, with seven teams reaching bowl games this season. Many teams were repeaters, with Boise State, Hawaii, San Diego State, Utah State, and Nevada all reaching the post-season last year as well. Wyoming, although bowl-eligible last season, along with Air Force were teams who bounced back into a bowl while Fresno State did not reach a bowl.
Again, this demonstrates how strong the conference is to have this many teams reaching bowls.
Preseason: 4 bowl wins would make this area a success (3 is acceptable)
The MWC teams got off to a bit of a rough start with the Utah State and Boise State losses during week one of bowls, but overall the Mountain West finished bowl season with a positive record. The Aggie loss was a game they absolutely should have won, and then the Aztecs showed what is supposed to happen when a good MWC team plays a MAC team. The two games against P5 teams were pretty much going to be a toss-up, and coming out 1-1 is expected. However, Boise State losing in an embarrassing fashion didn’t help. The Falcons taking care of business to continue the MWC’s winning ways over the PAC-12 was great to see. Then, Hawaii winning in a close game against BYU and Wyoming dominating Georgia State ensured the MWC would get their four bowl wins. Getting to five bowl wins would’ve been a huge success for the conference, but Nevada went the way of Utah State and Boise State
Feel Good Storylines
This one is more difficult to quantify but worth looking into all the same. This category was included because positive storylines often catch national attention. National attention leads to relevance. As a group of 5 schools, the Mountain West Conference needs every opportunity it can get. This season, some positive storylines were happening for the MWC.
As mentioned above, the wins over teams from Power 5 conferences had many people talking and tweeting about the Mountain West in September. Nevada’s true freshman walk-on kicker Brandon Talton and his game-winning kick over Purdue was a huge storyline.
There were some records broken, too, such as Curtis Weaver becoming the all-time sack leader in the MWC. On the other hand, the Jordan Love Heisman Campaign was over pretty quickly after it began, and the new media deal that was expected to be announced in the fall still hasn’t been announced. Overall, most of the attention that came the MWC’s way was positive, but it didn’t last all season.
Top Teams Playing Like Top Teams
Preseason: Having one or two of them rise above the rest and be in the hunt for a New Year’s Six bowl would be great, but have all four, or another surprise team, look strong won’t be bad either. Two ranked teams meeting in the conference championship would be the best-case scenario to give the Mountain West some national attention.
It may not have been the traditionally strong teams who ended up at the top of the Mountain West leaderboard, but the conference was strong this year. The champion was usual suspect Boise State, who finished the year with twelve wins. The runner-up and west division champ was Hawaii, who reached ten wins for the first time in the Rolo era. Air Force, who was ranked in some national polls and was the second-best team in MWC, reached eleven wins. Finally, San Diego State also crossed the ten-win mark with their bowl victory.
As far as the criteria posed back in August, Boise State was in the NY6 hunt much of the year, although they were coming from behind the second half after being in the driver’s seat in October. The MWC Championship didn’t have two ranked teams, because they both played in the same division. All in all, two ranked teams and four teams with over ten wins showed how strong the Mountain West was.
As stated in August, note that all of these are just personal opinions and not hating or favoring any one team. Now, I’ll own up to everything I got right or wrong.
- There will be two coaching fired/asked to resign by the end of the year, with one being New Mexico. RIGHT-ish (Definitely right on New Mexico, but there were 3, not 2 coaches let go)
- UNLV will not make a bowl game. RIGHT
- Hank Bachmeier will make at least one start this season. RIGHT (guess he made way more than one start)
- San Jose State will be improved, but it won’t show in the record. Still, they get 3 wins. RIGHT (but undersold myself. Their 5 wins did show up in the record)
- Wyoming will make a bowl game this season. They’ll be one of six teams. RIGHT & RIGHT
- There will only be one MWC team with 10+ wins this year (don’t know who) WRONG
- Fresno State and Boise State go for round 3 in the MWC Championship game. WRONG (way wrong with Fresno State)
- Air Force will not win the Commander in Chief Trophy this season. RIGHT?
Most of these were not bold predictions by any means, but 6-2 is still pretty darn good as far as predictions go.
It was another excellent season by the Mountain West Conference, arguably even better than last season. In the areas discussed above, all were considered a success, and many categories were probably considered a huge success (If anyone is wondering how successful they were compared to another group of 5 conference, like the American, for example, that topic will be tackled in the summer). Due to all of this, it is safe to say the 2019 football season for the Mountain West was overall a successful one, and the conference continues to trend upward on the field.
Your turn: What other factors or areas should have been considered? What parts do you agree or disagree with? Leave a comment below.