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Stats Corner: Does Anyone Want to Win Conference?

Ranking the chances on making the conference title game

Wyoming v UNLV Photo by Louis Grasse/Getty Images

A couple weeks ago, I wrote about the chances of each team winning the conference title and gave Air Force an 88% chance of winning the Commander in Chief cup, 80% of making the title game, 55% of winning the conference, and a 22% of making the NY6 bowl. Since then, they lost to then 2-6 Army and to then 3-7 Hawaii (as a 22-point favorite). With Statistics and Probability, the more data you have then more accurate decisions can be made. Currently, there are 5 teams who can make the conference title game and 5 teams who can still make a bowl game. Here we go again, probability and chances are only accurate until more games are played, more data is received, and everything gets thrown out the window, specially looking at Air Force/UNLV.

Air Force: 28.4% of making title game

Easiest path to title game: Win out (13.0%)

The good news for the Falcons is they lost to a team who could not make the title game, so they currently own all the tie-breakers. If they win out, they are in the title game. The bad news for the Falcons they still have two games against teams who have a realistic chance of making the conference title game. The UNLV game is huge when it comes to who will make the title game, currently the Falcons are favored at 58.2% and then comes the Broncos who are favored over the Falcons at 61.7%. Due to being favored over the Rebels and still having multiple paths to the conference title, but it down from the 80% a couple weeks ago.

UNLV: 25.4% of making title game

Easiest path to title game: Win out (12.9%)

Picked to finish 9th in the conference, the Rebels have out performed preseason expectations. They also play in the biggest game this weekend for MWC teams. If they win out they make the title game. They are underdogs to Air Force (41.8%) and favored against San Jose State (54.5%). The next easiest path if they lose to Air Force is to have Fresno State lose either game (53.2%) since the Bulldogs have the head to head tie breaker, and for good measure, if Boise State beats Air Force, UNLV has the tie breaker over Boise due to not playing each other and having a better record.

Fresno State 21.2% of making title game

Easiest path to title game: Win out (47.8%) and have Air Force beat UNLV (58.2%)

The loss (sorry beat-down) to San Jose State last weekend hurts. It took Fresno out of controlling their own destiny. Two things are still in favor of the Bulldogs. First they own the tie breaker over UNLV and second UNLV are underdogs against Air Force (how many times can that be mentioned, it is a very important game). The Bulldogs are heavily favored over both New Mexico (90.7%) and San Diego State (76.9%). If the Bulldogs lose it opens the door for the other teams.

San Jose State 14.6% of making title game

Easiest path to title game: Win out (24.9%) and have Air Force win out (13.0%).

There are other paths, but the easiest one is the Spartans and Falcons to win out. The Spartans lose the tie breakers against Air Force and Boise and have the tie-breaker against Fresno, but if they win out they would have the tie breaker against UNLV. San Jose is heavy favorites against San Diego State (85.4%) and slight underdogs against UNLV 45.5%). Having Air Force win out, would eliminate Boise State and give UNLV a second loss.

Boise State: 10.4% of making title game.

Only path to title game: Win out (34.3%) and have Air Force beat UNLV (58.2%) and have Fresno State lose (52.2%).

Would it be weird for the Broncos to fire their coach and then make the conference title game? There is exactly one path, but it is not absurd. It requires Boise State, Fresno State and San Jose State to become Air Force fans this weekend. Then Boise needs to beat Utah State (63.5%) and Air Force (61.7%) being favored in both, then have Air Force, the favored, beat UNLV, and finally have Fresno lose one of their final two games. Each of those situations individually is likely to happen, the question is will the universe align and all three happen?

Going Bowling

There are five teams who have not qualified for a bowl game but still could. Three need one win and two need to win out. At most 4 teams will get in, as both teams needing two wins will play each other and one has to lose. In order of the most likely:

San Jose State: 93.4% chance

Left to play: San Diego State (85.4%) and UNLV (54.5%).

Boise State: 86.0% chance

Left to play: Utah State (63.5%) and Air Force (61.7%).

Utah State: 83.6% chance

Left to play: Boise State (36.5%) and New Mexico (74.2%).

Colorado State: 27.8% chance

Left to play: Nevada (70.7%) and Hawaii (39.3%)

Hawaii: 9.5% chance

Left to play: Wyoming (15.7%) and Colorado State (60.7%)

There will be one team joining the bowling ranks this weekend as either Boise State or Utah State will pick up their sixth win, the other will have one more chance and both teams are favored during the final week making it likely both go bowling. San Jose State is favored in both games and just needs one. Colorado State is favored against Nevada but not Hawaii and Hawaii is favored Colorado State but not Wyoming. Only one of the Rams or Rainbow Warriors will make it, but it is possible (and likely) that they will both split their games and neither will go bowling.