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Peak Perspective: Was the 2020 season a success for the MWC?

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A look back at the standards we set before the season and how the MWC fared.

NCAA Football: Famous Idaho Potato Bowl-Tulane at Nevada Brian Losness-USA TODAY Sports

Welcome to another postseason review post. Way back in October, this post looked at what were some of the main factors that could qualify the 2020 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.

Playing any games in any form at all.

  • Even if every team got to play one game against another team this year, it would be a monumental success. Anything is a positive. CHECK
  • Getting through a week of the season would be a success. CHECK
  • Playing the entire conference schedule would be a success. Some teams did but not every team.
  • Getting a conference champion or bowl game season would be a huge success. CHECK

The bar was set low, and most of them were cleared. It wasn’t always pretty, and there was at least one game cancelled just about every week. However, there were also games played every week.

Games were played, and that makes it a SUCCESS.

Strong Showing Against Power 5 Teams

Never mind this category this year. However, San Diego State ended up playing Colorado in a random game after both experienced cancellations. The Aztecs did not have a good showing.

UNSUCCESSFUL

Bowl Eligible Teams

It’s pretty automatic the conference will end up with at least four teams in bowls this season. By bowl-eligible teams, we mean traditional 6+ win teams. Not the everyone is bowl eligible bowl teams.

This category can be interpreted in a few different ways. If we are going by the traditional 6+ wins, two teams qualified, SJSU and Nevada. If we are going by at least four teams ended up in bowls, four teams were invited to bowls. However, only three teams played in bowl games. With so many games getting cancelled, it’s hard to truly judge teams based on that measurement. There’s no need to nitpick here.

(slight) SUCCESS

Bowl Wins

Of course, getting to a bowl game isn’t enough on its own. It’s nice, but most people remember who won and who lost. The conference played in three bowl games, winning two of them and losing the final match. Nevada and Hawaii both had impressive wins, especially considering both of them were against teams from the American Athletic Conference. Taking it to the AAC is always a plus. However, they weren’t able to pull off the trifecta as SJSU got blown out by Ball State, who has a strong season in their own right but seemed like the easiest team to beat on paper. Bowl season is weird.

SUCCESS

Feel Good Storylines

By this, I mean the kind of stuff that might gain national attention or at least make the conference relevant outside of itself. For example, last year, Hawaii was running through PAC12 opponents and reaching the MWC championship game. It was Brandon Talton’s game-winning FG to upset Purdue. It was SJSU beating Arkansas and all the other wins over P5 teams. Whether you love or hate those teams, positive attention for any is good for the conference.

Nevada and San Jose State? They were two extremely positive storylines in the MWC this season. The Wolf Pack were an early-season sensation, and the Strong to Doubs deep connection was a thing of beauty, not to mention a regular Sports Center Top 10 nominee each week. Also, the Spartans were a national darling this season, with the bandwagon growing with each win. As the number of undefeated teams dwindled, SJSU remained on the list and even cracked the CFP rankings.

SUCCESS

Top Teams Playing Like Top Teams

This year, three teams will likely get to 10 wins again, but the Mountain West may need to do more to make it a strong season. However, to excel in this category, the MWC may need to have more than “just” three to four teams finishing with ten or more wins. Two ranked teams meeting in the conference championship would be the best-case scenario to give the Mountain West some national attention (see Memphis/Cincinnati in the AAC last year for reference).

San Diego State was fine, but not good. Boise State was good but not great. Nevada was very good, and San Jose State was great. One ranked team played in the conference championship. Due to the ACC’s better reputation (and play), plus their season starting on time, and so many undefeated G5 teams in the rankings (which is a good thing overall), the Mountain West was pretty much out of the running for the NY6 spot by the time their season started.

UNSUCCESSFUL

Personal Predictions:

As stated in October, 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 no coaches fired/asked to resign by the end of the year. With six new coaches and no obvious candidates in the other 6, any firing would be a surprise. WRONG (Thanks to Gary Andersen and Utah State)
  • UNLV will not make a bowl game (or in 2020 language, they won’t get to six wins). (2021 may be a different story, though) RIGHT
  • There will be more teams in the middle of the conference record-wise this year. Meaning, I don’t see much separation between teams like Fresno State, Hawaii, Utah State, Colorado State, and Nevada. RIGHT (there were 7 teams were 2-4 wins, although 2 of the teams I listed didn’t fall into this category)
  • Colorado State will make a bowl game this season. They’ll be one of seven teams. VERY WRONG and WRONG
  • There will be three MWC teams with 10+ wins this year (Boise State, Air Force, and SDSU)
  • There will be no undefeated teams in conference play this season, but one one-loss team and two two-loss teams. WRONG (happy to be wrong for SJSU and Boise State in conference play)
  • Boise State and San Diego State will meet in the MWC Championship game. HALF RIGHT
  • Air Force will win the Commander in Chief Trophy this season. WRONG

A 2.5-5 record on predictions is not as good as last year, but it was a completely unpredictable season in 2020.

Final thoughts:

The Mountain West Conference made it through the season, which is a success in and of itself. In some areas, like bowl wins or feel-good stories, the year was a huge success. In terms of a top team chasing a NY6 bowl or out of conference matchups, the MWC was not up to the challenge. Of course, the 2020 season has an asterisk on it, but it wasn’t a season that moved the conference forward. Overall the season was a slight success but not nearly as much as the past two seasons.

Your turn: What other factors or areas should have been considered? What parts do you agree or disagree with? Leave a comment below.