With the National Championship game in the books, that means that the college football season is officially over. Like it does every year, the fall went by too quickly. It seems like just a few weeks ago we were watching Hawaii’s Week 0 game. Now, bowl games are over, and every team has finished their season until next August. Now that things are finalized let’s cap it off with a final season grade.
A few quick notes before diving in the heart of this post. 1) Treat the grades as a big-picture snapshot rather than an all-inclusive rating. 2) Different standards are given for different teams. Thus, their grades reflect that. With that being said, look at the grades below:
Air Force: A
Air Force rebounded nicely from the last two seasons and became one of the most dominant teams in the Mountain West and one of the best teams in the country. Their offensive and defensive production made it difficult for teams to compete against them, and their only losses came to nationally ranked teams.
- Bowl specific grade: A
The Falcons beat a power 5 team and made them look foolish trying to defend the triple-option. They controlled the clock and therefore controlled the game. It was the cherry on top of an extremely successful 2019 season.
Boise State: A
An opening-season win with a true freshman QB in a true road game that moved last minute. Going undefeated in conference play and spending the majority of the season ranked. In what many thought to be a reloading year, the Broncos still showed they were the best team in the conference.
- Bowl specific grade: D-
The Broncos came out flat, then played poorly, and finished with little sign of life in their media-hyped bowl game against Chris Petersen’s Huskies. It was a bad effort all around and ended an otherwise bright season on a sour note.
Colorado State: D
The Rams set out this season to prove the 2018 campaign was a fluke. Unfortunately, 2019 demonstrated that it was not, and Colorado State’s season was over shortly after it began. The offense looked legit for much of the year, but the defense struggled mightily, and that was the deciding factor in games more often than not.
Fresno State: C-
Expectations were way higher than results for the Bulldogs. They really never got going in 2019, hovering at more or less .500 for the duration of the season. Whether it was in or out of conference, offense, or defense, it was a disappointing showing all around.
Hawaii declared itself entering into “Phase 3” this season, and the goal was to build on their momentum from last year. Mission accomplished this year. Coach Rolovich and his hired fortune teller predicted a MWC Championship birth, and that’s precisely what happened. They started the year with two PAC-12 wins and ended up winning the West Division.
- Bowl specific grade: B
In a neck and neck game that represented the Hawaii season accurately, they scored early and often while holding off BYU just enough to secure a bowl win to cap off their ten-win season.
The Wolf Pack were perhaps the most inconsistent team in the Mountain West this season. They upset a P5 team and squeaked by an FCS team. They had five games where they topped 30 points and four games where they scored 10 points or less. Still, they found a way to reach a bowl game, and seven regular-season wins, which is an accomplishment.
- Bowl specific grade: D
This was a game the Wolf Pack probably should have won. The MWC bowl teams have to better than the non-conference champ MAC bowl teams. But Ohio prevailed in their game and had their way with Nevada through three quarters. Nevada did come alive in the fourth, and if their reverse play worked, maybe they would’ve pulled it off.
New Mexico: F
The Lobos won two games all season, didn’t win after September 21st, which meant they enter 2020 on a nine-game losing streak. Very little went right for New Mexico the past two seasons, but there is a glimmer of hope with a new coaching regime coming into town. No one is happier to see 2019 end.
San Diego State: B
New year, new offensive scheme, and same results on both sides of the ball for San Diego State. Moving to more spread concepts allowed their run-heavy offense to be more balanced when it needed to be. Injuries to the offense slowed their production, but the defense was extraordinary this season, in thanks to massive productions from the linebacker and secondary positions.
- Bowl specific grade: A
The Aztecs had little trouble against Central Michigan in their bowl game. In fact, they achieved their season-high in points in this last game of the season, and the defense was their usual stifling selves.
San Jose State: B-
The Spartans surprised just about everyone this season, emerging out of the MWC cellar and looking like a competent college team on both sides of the ball. They won more games than the last two years combined, pulled off an upset of an SEC team, and were playing for bowl eligibility into November.
Outside expectations weren’t all that high for the Rebels this season, but the team still pretty much ended up right where most thought they would be. Surprisingly, UNLV played some of their most competitive games against better competition. Still, looking at the entirety of their season, they fell short of their goal of qualifying for a bowl game.
Utah State: B-
Many expected the 2019 Aggies to regress back towards the mean from their excellent 2018 season. However, they were still a tough matchup in nearly every game despite their tough schedule. The defense suffered from critical injuries, and when the timing from their high-tempo offense was off, so was the offense. But when Love and his weapons found their stride, it was one of the hardest offenses to handle.
- Bowl specific grade: F
Losing to Kent State, the only team in its almost hundred-year history to do so in a bowl game ever, and the grade could not turn out any other way.
Wyoming seemed poised to make a lot of noise this season, but couldn’t quite win the big game or two they needed to. However, this was still a very talented team. The defense was one of the best in the conference. It was the offense, though, that couldn’t find any consistency, especially in the passing game. That held them back from beating some of the top teams.
- Bowl specific grade: A-
The Cowboys put it all together in their bowl game, and it showed. There was an offensive explosion, and the defense was its usual dominant self. The future may be bright going into 2020.
Alright, let’s hear it. Which grades did you agree with? Which ones would you change, and to what? Talk about it in the comments section.