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Stats Corner: MWC Teams and Advanced Stats

What are MWC teams are doing right and wrong?

Colorado v Colorado State Photo by Dustin Bradford/Getty Images

I think it is fair to say that the football season has not started out the way the Mountain West has wanted. At least it makes the PAC 12/10 pause and think about adding teams, although Utah State getting Tier 1 research status is a little bit interesting as that has been considered a requirement to join and they are the only school in the conference to have that status. Even when teams are down, they do not do everything wrong. Today on Stats Corner we are going to look at what advanced stats each school is doing well and where they are struggling. Quick refresh, Bill Walsh came up with a little of statistics he felt were important in gauging how a team was doing. The purpose of the statistics was to get the coaches and players to ask why something was occurring, the stats are not the answer but getting people to ask the correct questions. A full list and explanation of Advanced Stats can be found here.

Air Force

The Falcons are 4th in country in opponents 3rd downs at 11.0 3rd downs per game. When that is combined with a 37th best 34.1% opponent conversion rate, the Falcon defense does a good job getting off the field. They are also 13th in the country at opponent red zone attempts at 1.8 per game. Therefore, opposing teams only reach the red zone once per half. The defense is a big reason Air Force is near the top of most MWC rankings.

Two areas the offense needs to work on, 3rd downs and red zone attempts. The offense is 97th in the country with 12.8 3rd downs a game, meaning they cannot put long drives together, giving their defense a chance to rest. The other concern is 3.3 red zone attempts for the offense 80th in the country. The offense needs to determine ways to put longer drives together and get into the red zone more.

Boise State

The biggest problem for Boise is the red zone. The offense only makes 2.0 attempts a game, good for 121st in the country and only scores points 62.5% of the time which is 123rd.

The defense is holding opposing teams to 25.0% conversion rate on 3rd downs with is 4th in the country. They are also 16th best at opponent red zones trips at 2.0. Unfortunately, teams are scoring at 100% of trips to the red zone, that is a bad as it gets.

Colorado State

The Rams are ranked in the bottom 5 in the country in 5 categories. That could explain their overall record. They are 128th in red zone attempts at 1.7 per game and then that is coupled with a 40% red zone scoring which is 130th. They are 131st, that would be the lowest possible ranking, in both opponent red zone attempts 5.7 per game and scoring at 100%. And to round it off, the offense only converts 18.4% of 3rd downs, 129th. Cannot stop opponents, cannot sustain drives, and cannot get itself or convert on scoring chances. It will be a long season, even if the defense holds teams to 12.7 3rd downs per game, 29th in the country.

Fresno State

Like Colorado State, lots of rankings near the bottom. The Bulldogs are 130th in 3rd downs at 10.3 per game and 119th in conversation at 29.0%. The offense cannot put long drives together. They do get to the red zone 4.0 times a game, 46th in the country, but a score rate of 58.3%, 126th, means not enough points are scored. The defense is giving up 4.3 red zone trips a game, 119th ranking, and allowing teams to score 92.9% of the time which is 106th.


The Rainbow Warriors have 3rd downs figured out. The offense is 5th in number of 3rd downs at 16.8 per game and the defense is first in the country at only 8.8 first downs per game. The issue is the offense can only convert 29.9% of the time which is 114th in the country. The defense may not allow 3rd downs but they do allow red zone trips a second worst in the country 5.5 per game and a 119th worst 95.65% scoring rate for opposing offenses.


The Wolfpack only allow opponents into the red zone 1.8 times a game, good enough for 13th. However, they are one of four MWC teams which have allowed 100% scoring on opponent red zones trips. Half the MWC has that problems as 7 defenses allow offenses to score at least 90% of the time. The defense cannot stop opponents as they allow 15.8 3rd downs per game and teams convert 47.3% of the time, that 114th and 113th rankings respectfully. The Wolfpack offense matches the defense with 1.8 red zone trips a game, but that is on the wrong end of 125th ranking.

New Mexico

The defense can hold. Only 2.0 red zone trips for opponents, 16th, and offenses only convert 32.7% of 3rd downs. The offense isn’t holding up their side. Only 12.5 3rd downs a game at 14.0% conversation rate, 105th and 130th rankings, combined with 2.8 red zone attempts and a 63.6% red zone scoring rate at 103rd and 122nd rankings means the offense is holding this team back.

San Diego State

The Aztecs do a good job setting themselves with solid numbers on 3rd downs and red zone attempts, but they struggle sealing the deal. Dead last in 3rd down conversions at 13.5%, with the defense given up 47.3%, 122nd. Those numbers need to flip. The defense is one of the four MWC teams to allow opponents to score every red zone trip.

San Jose State

The Spartans have the red zone figured out. The offense is 4th in the country at 5.7 attempts and the defense is 6th at 1.3 attempts and when coupled with a 12th best 66.7% scoring rate the defense is pretty solid. The offense needs to improve their red zone scoring, 76.5% which is 91st.


The Rebels are actually fairly solid, with no glaring weaknesses. The defense holds a solid 12.5 3rd downs per game and only gives up 28.0% conversations good for 24th and 14th.A red score scoring rate of 93.3% for the offense and a 68.4% scoring rate for the defense at 26th and 14th gives the Rebels a stronger foundations than most MWC teams.

Utah State

The high-powered offense from last year is gone. The Aggies do have a 22nd best 15.5 3rd downs per game, but only convert 30.7% of the time for 112th. Their red zone scoring is a 111th 69.2%, meaning they cannot move the ball when they need to. The defense is giving up 5.0 red zone trips a game 128th, and allowing opponents to score 90.9% which is 95th in the country, but top half for the MWC.


The Cowboys have struggles. 104th in 3rd downs and only 31.8% conversions for the offense 104th and 105th. The defense is allowing 15.2 3rd downs and 46.1% conversions for 101st and 107th. It doesn’t get better in the red zone as the offense only gets there 2.6 times a game for 111th and the defense allows 4.4 trips. At least the offense scores on 92.3% of those trips for 28th.