Non-conference games serve a few different purposes. In some cases, it lets teams work out kinks and prepare for the regular season. In other instances, it’s a cash grab, taking money to play games and programs are able to add to their budget. Most importantly, it’s a chance for the Mountain West to measure itself against other conferences and make a statement against Power five teams.
This article looks at how the Mountain West fared in their out of conference schedule this season. Overall, they went ____. Specifically, their record was ____ against teams from Power 5 conferences, which was tied for the most Power 5 wins by a conference this season.
Note: This article does not include bowl games and instead focuses on the regular season out of conference schedule.
Upsetting the Power (less) 5
Air Force over Colorado
Boise State over Florida State
Hawaii over Arizona
Hawaii over Oregon State
Nevada over Purdue
SDSU over UCLA
SJSU over Arkansas
UNLV over Vanderbilt
Wyoming over Missouri
Any win over a team from a Power 5 conference is a big win, even if the MWC team was favored over better. These were the wins that gave the conference some national attention and showed they could compete with teams from conferences with more resources when given the opportunity. Specifically, this year helped the MWC continue their dominance of the PAC12 with four additional wins.
Good losses to the Power 5
Fresno State loses to USC
Fresno State loses to Minnesota
Utah State loses to Wake Forest
Colorado State loses to Colorado
UNLV loses to Northwestern
These are games the Mountain West was not favored going in and still ended up having a good showing. In fact, two or three of these games were close to being upset wins. Pulling off quality losses demonstrates the MWC was not a pushover going up against teams from P5 conferences, and it bodes well going forward in these types of games.
Bad losses to the Power 5
Utah State loses to LSU
Hawaii loses to Washington
Nevada loses to Oregon
New Mexico loses to Notre Dame
Colorado State loses to Arkansas
The games listed above were a wasted chance to have a pretty good showing by losing as severely as an FCS team might. It would’ve been relatively miraculous for any of these games to result in a win, but these teams still could’ve made a (mini-) statement by playing competitively. Or in most of these cases, at least scoring double digits.
Why so many games against NMSU?
Fresno State over New Mexico State
New Mexico over New Mexico State
SDSU over New Mexico State
Sure they went 3-0 in these games against the non-MWC Aggies, but why were there three games to begin with? The only one that is acceptable is the in-state rivalry version that the Lobos play. Other than that, no more out of conference spots wasted on NMSU.
The Academy Games
Air Force over Army
Hawaii over Army
SJSU over Army
Air Force loses to Navy
In case it was not evident from the game results above, Navy was a good team this year, and Army was not as strong this season. More games against Navy may have resulted in a strong win or a pretty good loss. Still, going 3-1 against the two other academy teams is a pretty good record.
BYU games that are basically conference games.
Boise State loses to BYU
SDSU over BYU
Utah State loses to BYU
BYU is an independent acting like it’s a P5 team, but let’s be real. They came from the Mountain West, and play more or less at the same level as the top of the Mountain West. People may be torn on whether or not MWC teams should continue to schedule and play BYU, and that’s fine. However, there is no denying it gives any team a quality opponent in their non-conference schedule. Going 1-2 this year isn’t ideal, but it made for some good games.
Group of 5 Toss Ups
Boise State over Marshall
Nevada over UTEP
Colorado State loses to Toledo
UNLV loses to Arkansas State
Wyoming over Texas State
If the MWC wants to be taken seriously as a conference, and keep pace with the American, they should not be flirting with .500 against the non-American group of 5 conferences. Really, they probably shouldn’t be losing at all. Arkansas State won their conference, so that’s excusable, but there’s no excuse for failing to beat Toledo.
As for games against teams from the American...
Trouble with Tulsa
SJSU loses to Tulsa
Wyoming loses to Tulsa
The MWC needs more non-conference games against the AAC. It’s a chance to take it to them on the field, and the talent level is about even. Except for this year, it wasn’t. Tulsa was bottom tier team in their conference but picked up half of its four wins against two MWC teams. SJSU is probably a toss-up this season, but Wyoming should have beat them with little issue.
Taking it to Weber State
Nevada over Weber State
SDSU over Weber State
Similarly to New Mexico State above, two different Mountain West teams playing Weber State in the same month is a bit of an oddity. Both of these games resulted in MWC wins, but both of these games were a bit too close for comfort. Weber State is a great FCS program, but playing them is a no-win situation in the sense that a win means little and a loss is embarrassing.
FCS gimme games (Wins)
Air Force over Colgate
Boise State over Portland State
Colorado State over Western Illinois
Fresno State over Sacramento State
Hawaii over Central Arkansas
New Mexico over Sam Houston
SJSU over Northern Colorado
UNLV over Southern Utah
Utah State over Stony Brook
Wyoming over Idaho
There is not much to say here. Mountain West teams got their payday playing P5 teams and then turn around and give out some money to FCS teams in order to balance out their record with an easy win. These ten games gave the conference ten extra wins. Although none of them carried any real weight.
FCS gimme games (Losses)
Edit: My bad, Liberty is FBS, not FCS. However, 1) Don’t schedule Liberty. 2) Don’t LOSE to Liberty.
New Mexico loses to Liberty
An FBS team should NOT be losing to an FCS team. It’s terrible for the conference, embarrassing for the team, and keep in mind teams are giving the FCS opponents money, so they are paying to lose.