The College Football Power Index has been released, which is based on team performances from the previous season. Considering that the 2020 season was greatly affected by COVID-19 and other factors, the way teams performed last season may not been telling of how teams may perform this season. Nevertheless, it is interesting to look at what teams are predicted to do and consider how accurate the predictions could be.
The highest ranked Group of Five team in the FPI Rankings is Cincinnati, sitting at number 27, while the highest ranked Mountain West team is Nevada sitting at 75. Utah State is at number 120 and is predicted to finish between 4.3-7.3 wins, essentially 4-7 wins. The Aggies have a zero percent chance of winning out according to the rankings and they have a 27.9% chance of getting six or more wins. The Aggies have a 2.1% chance to win the division and a 0.3% chance of winning the conference. The Aggies have a zero percent chance of making a playoff game and also a zero percent chance of making the national championship.
Is the ranking accurate?
Strictly considering last season, yes the rankings are accurate. Utah State really struggled to find an identity as a team, only grabbing one win through the season. Are the rankings applicable to Blake Anderson’s new team though? Well let’s start with the schedule.
Utah State starts the season with a game in Pullman against Washington State, which is expected to be a loss. The Aggies could surprise but this is the first game of the season and there will probably be a little learning curve. The Aggies also get Air Force, Boise State, and BYU in back to back to back games after a break against North Dakota. Going into the first weekend of October, that’s already three potential losses. Games against Hawaii, San Jose State, and Wyoming towards the end of the year won’t be cakewalks either.
Can Utah State get more than six wins? In reality yes they probably could but what are the chances of that happening? Well it is really unknown under a new head coach that is bringing new energy. If Utah State could get a win against Boise State their chances of winning the division are going to sky rocket, but the odds of that happening at a point still early on in the season seems very unlikely. Beating Air Force will be a big challenge in itself but the chances of winning the division will increase with a win over Air Force. If the Aggies want to be in the thick of things at the end of the year, the game against the Falcons is a must win. The 27.9% chance of winning six or more games essentially means that the rankings don’t think the Aggies have much of a chance at making a bowl game.
Overall, the rankings are a little hard on the Aggies. Utah State brings back quarterback Andrew Peasley, who has become better through Spring training, and brings back experience on defense. One of the problems that kept Utah State from performing well last season was consistency, which there should be more of this season as Utah State brings people back. The receivers group especially looks better as more names are making plays. Utah State, looking at the team and development to his point, could likely finish with seven or eight wins on the season, which is more than the minimum four wins that the power index suggests.