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Peak Perspective: 2021 Mid-Season Grades

The grades are in!

We are right around the mid-point of the season, which is following week four this year, so even though it feels like the season just started, let’s hand out some midseason grades.

The grades are based on a system we started a few years ago and are continuing. For each team, we list two grades. The first is an objective grade, meaning a grade based on how each team is in relation to the rest of the teams in the country (a more traditional grade). The second is an adjusted grade, which is based on how the team is performing in relation to itself and its own expectations. This hopefully will provide a more well-rounded depiction of each team, as some teams can be doing well compared to expectations but not well overall. Similarly, a team can have a good record but not be meeting their own expectations.

As far as grades go, the A range is exceptional, Bs are very good, a C grade means average, D range is disappointing/not doing well, and Fs are awful.

Check it out below, and don’t forget to comment on what you agree or disagree with (just state what you would do differently).

Air Force

  • Objective Grade: B+
  • Adjusted Grade: A-

The Falcons are doing pretty much everything right these days. While they are not dominant, they are as solid as they come, running their system to near perfect. In fact, if not for a close loss to Utah State in a shootout, Air Force could possibly be a ranked team right now.

Boise State

  • Objective Grade: C
  • Adjusted Grade: D+

The Broncos may have been on their way to a very poor grade until they earned some major extra credit with their win over the rival (and ranked) BYU Cougars. While Boise State has looked like world-beaters at times, they have also struggled with the basic concepts of football (tackling, blocking) just as often. An incomplete may be the most accurate grade at this point, but BSU grades out as average here. Their adjusted grade always holds them to a higher standard.

Colorado State

  • Objective Grade: C
  • Adjusted Grade: C-

The Rams weren’t expected to do too much this season but still got off to a poor start. However, CSU seems to have turned things around a bit in recent weeks. They are playing to their strengths as much as possible, and it is keeping them in games. Running the ball, passing to their tight end, exceptional play from their kicker and punter, and just enough defense isn’t a traditional recipe for success but there is nothing wrong with doing what works.

Fresno State

  • Objective Grade: A
  • Adjusted Grade: B+

The Bulldogs were seen as a sleeper team entering the year, but everyone has woken up to how talented they are. Fresno State upset one PAC-12 team and took another to the wire. They had a brutal loss as well, as their tendency for giving up the ball has come back to haunt them. Still, no one should look forward to playing them as their offense is hard to contain.

Hawaii

  • Objective Grade: C+
  • Adjusted Grade: B-

The Rainbow Warriors were inconsistent last season and a bit of a mystery heading into this year. Halfway through the year, not much has changed that narrative. Hawaii has been outclassed by PAC-12 teams and beat teams below their competition level. They lost a close one to SJSU and then shocked the conference by beating Fresno State with a true freshman quarterback making his first start. Let the mystery continue.

Nevada

  • Objective Grade: B+
  • Adjusted Grade: B-

The Wolf Pack are a very good team. Few can rival their passing attack, their running game is sneaky good and their defense has the ability to show up in key moments. Nevada is one of the best teams in the Mountain West. However, their adjusted grade is lower because of their NY6 hopes which will not come to fruition this season.

New Mexico

  • Objective Grade: D
  • Adjusted Grade: F

After a promising start to the season, the Lobos lost their way rather quickly. In season two of their rebuild, the hope was there would be some signs of improvement. Instead, it seems like they are moving backward. No one expected New Mexico to contend for the conference this season but they were expected to contend in more games than they have the past few weeks. That is the reason why their adjusted grade is lower than their objective grade.

San Diego State

  • Objective Grade: A
  • Adjusted Grade: A

The Aztecs are the clear best team in the conference and one of the best teams in the country, as their top 25 ranking illustrates. San Diego State is playing as the best version of themselves, with an exceptional defense, a strong rushing attack, game-changing special teams, and an improving passing game. The sky appears to be the limit for SDSU.

San Jose State

  • Objective Grade: C
  • Adjusted Grade: C

The Spartans looked good but not great at the start of the season, but are now trending in the wrong direction. Their defense is still quite good, but their offense is lagging, especially after losing their quarterback to an injury with an unknown timetable. SJSU could go in either direction the second half of the season.

UNLV

  • Objective Grade: F
  • Adjusted Grade: D-

Things are ugly for UNLV, but they were supposed to be. Things would be different if they were able to upset the Bulldogs, but UNLV just seems to be missing some of the pieces that lead to winning. Again, no one expected them to be good, but they have lacked any signs of improvement. The Rebels may not win a game this year.

Utah State

  • Objective Grade: B-
  • Adjusted Grade: B+

The Aggies started the season as a very nice surprise, before dropping back-to-back games against good competition before their recent bye week. Utah State is playing well and has a now established identity on both sides of the ball, which makes them a tough team to play. USU may still be a force to be reckoned with for the rest of the season but if they aren’t, they are playing very well.

Wyoming

  • Objective Grade: B+
  • Adjusted Grade: B-

Wyoming has won all the games they were supposed to win to start the season. They are now 4-1, which is nothing to be upset about. If following the grading metaphor, the Cowboys have completed all the homework assignments, have gotten perfect attendance, and did okay on the quiz. But they have yet to take any tests and due to that, their grade is a bit inflated, or has the potential to be anyway.