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 against programs in exchange for money 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 an impressive 31-18. Specifically, their record was 5-11 against teams from Power 5 conferences, plus two more P5 wins in bowl games.
Note: This article does not include bowl games and instead focuses on the regular season out of conference schedule.
Mountain West 2022 OOC Record:
- Overall: 20-28
- P5: 1-16 (includes Notre Dame)
- BYU: 0-3
- G5: 9-4 (includes UConn)
- New Mexico State: 1-2
- FCS: 9-3
- 1 no contest (SJSU vs NMSU)
Upsetting the Power (less) 5
- Air Force vs. Colorado W
This game wasn’t actually an upset, as the Falcons were favored coming into the game and completely manhandled the Buffs on the field. But any wins against teams from Power 5 conferences are great for the Mountain West, and this one is no exception. Unfortunately, it was the anomaly in the 2022 season, as it was the only P5 regular season victory.
Good losses to the Power 5
- Fresno State vs. Oregon State L
- SJSU vs. Auburn L
- UNLV vs. Cal L
All three of these games were close losses, and at least two of them could have ended up victories for the Mountain West. To some degree, all three teams had a pretty good chance to win. While moral victories don’t amount to much, it does mean the MWC had a good showing against teams with more resources.
Bad losses to the Power 5
- Colorado State vs. Washington State L
- Colorado State vs. Michigan L
- Boise State vs. Oregon State L
- Fresno State vs. USC L
- Hawaii vs. Vanderbilt L
- Hawaii vs. Michigan L
- Nevada vs. Iowa L
- New Mexico vs. LSU L
- SDSU vs. Arizona L
- SDSU vs. Utah L
- UNLV vs. Notre Dame L
- Utah State vs. Alabama L
- Wyoming vs. Illinois L
Nearly all of these games ended up as blowouts. The ones that weren’t were losses where the Mountain West teams never really felt in it. Some were not at all surprising, like the losses from Colorado State, Hawaii, UNLV, or Utah State. Other games, like Boise State or the two San Diego State played, were a letdown because many thought those teams should’ve played more competitively or possibly even won. Overall, it is sad that thirteen of the seventeen MWC games against P5 teams are in this category.
NMSU: Unofficial 13th Mountain West Member
- Hawaii vs. New Mexico State L
- Nevada vs. New Mexico State W
- New Mexico vs. New Mexico State L
- SJSU vs. NMSU canceled
Why do Mountain West teams keep scheduling games against New Mexico State? New Mexico makes sense because of the in-state rivalry, but that’s the only one. The independent Aggies need to fill up their schedule, but the MWC teams who play them have little to gain and much to lose when taking the field. And that’s exactly what happened this year, as the Mountain West went 1-2 against them, with the fourth game canceled. While the rivalry game stings more, none of these losses are excusable and hurt the conference’s overall numbers.
The Academy Games
- Air Force vs. Navy W
- Air Force vs. Army W
Air Force went 2-0 in the games against their arch-rivals. That is always the goal when it comes to the Commander-In-Chief Trophy games, and this year, the Falcons came away with the hardware and bragging rights.
- Boise State vs. BYU L
- Utah State vs. BYU L
- Wyoming vs. BYU L
BYU was a ranked team for the first half of this season and was a good team, although not as good as last season. The Cowboys played them tough, and the Aggies played them close and were actually leading at one point. Meanwhile, the Broncos arguably should have beaten them in a back-and-forth game but came up just short. Going 0-3 doesn’t fully illustrate how competitive these games were, but ultimately it is a disappointment not to get a single victory.
Group of 5 Matchups
- Boise State vs. UTEP L
- Colorado State vs. Middle Tennessee L
- Fresno State vs. UConn L
- Hawaii vs. Western Kentucky L
- Nevada vs. Texas State W
- New Mexico vs. UTEP W
- SDSU vs. Toldeo W
- SJSU vs. Western Michigan W
- UNLV vs. North Texas W
- Utah State vs. UConn W
- Wyoming vs. Tulsa W
These games are against fellow Group of 5 teams, as the name indicates, and depending on the teams, the games can sometimes be evenly matched. With that being said, the Mountain West should still be winning a majority of these games in order to boost its prestige. This season, it was a category the Mountain West did well in, winning seven games (nine when counting the CIC games) while losing four. However, it should’ve been better with bad losses by Boise State and Fresno State. Also, it is worth noting that none of these games are against teams from the American Athletic Conference. It is disappointing that the two conferences didn’t play one another (outside of Air Force vs. Navy).
FCS gimme games (Wins)
- Air Force vs. Northern Iowa W
- Boise State vs. UT Martin W
- Fresno State vs. Cal Poly W
- Hawaii vs. Duquesne W
- New Mexico vs. Maine W
- SDSU vs. Idaho State W
- SJSU vs. Portland State W
- UNLV vs. Idaho State W
- Wyoming vs. Northern Colorado W
FCS games should be gimmes. Remember that the Mountain West teams almost always pay money for these teams to come in and lose. It is assumed MWC teams will win, and notching nine victories is a huge success. But they really should not lose any of these games. It’s debatable whether they should even be scheduling these games.
FCS gimme games (Losses)
- Colorado State vs. Sacramento State L
- Nevada vs. Incarnate Word L
- Utah State vs. Weber State L
However, three Mountain West teams lost to FCS teams this season. This isn’t a knock on the FCS teams, as they deserve credit for earning the victories. However, it speaks to the quality of the conference when these losses occur, and for the two teams above that struggled this season, it speaks to how hard it was to win. Ultimately, these games were a disappointment for the Mountain West this season.
Overall, the Mountain West had a disappointing showing in their non-conference schedule. Not only did they fail to make a positive statement against Power 5 teams, but they had losing records against BYU and New Mexico State and suffered three losses to FCS teams. The conference will need to have a better showing in 2023.