A couple of weeks ago we took a look at Bill Connelly’s SP+ projection for the 2023 Mountain West football season. The FPI has now been released, and these projections are slightly more generous and expect a wide level of parity across the Mountain West. FPI expects growth from some struggling programs, but there are familiar favorites at the top of the projections. With that being said, let’s take a look at the good, the bad, and the ugly of the ESPN FPI projections for the Mountain West.
The Bulldogs are a hard team to predict. They were an absolute mess without Jake Haener under center. But I like Mikey Keane, and they should have one of the best defenses in the conference. The projection of 7.5 wins feels about right.
The Falcons are better than any team in the conference at replacing lost production, but this team lost so much fire power that it is hard to see them replicating their success from 2022. I still think they will be in the thick of the title hunt though. Their projected win total of 7.6 feels about right.
San Diego State
The Aztecs are starting to look like a team on the decline and their losses on the defensive side of the ball are going to be hard to overcome. Jalen Mayden is an upgrade over quarterbacks they have had in the past, but he still has a long way to go. The Aztecs are a fringe bowl team and their projected win total of 6.4 reflects that.
The Rebels looked like a team on the brink in 2022 before injuries slowed them down. It will be interesting to see if a more experienced coaching staff can turn this program around. FPI projects the Rebels to finish the season with 5.9 wins which would have them contending for a bowl game and would be a step in the right direction.
Since Craig Bohl has taken over the Wyoming football program, you can pretty much guarantee that this program is going to finish the season with six or seven wins. The success of this football team will come down to the quarterback position. Will the Cowboys have an improved passing attack? FPI’s project of 6.4 wins forecasts another middle of the road season for Wyoming.
According to the FPI, the Broncos are a heavy favorite to win the Mountain West Championship. FPI projects the Broncos to finish the season with 8.3 wins and give them a 45.9% chance of winning the conference. It has been a long time since there has been this level of confidence around a Boise State offense. I think this team finishes with ten wins.
Early projections really don’t like the Aggies and see them taking a step back for the second consecutive season. I understand the logic, but I think this team will exceed expectations and make a bowl game for the third consecutive season. FPI’s projection of 5.3 wins is on the low side. The Aggies will represent the conference in a bowl game this season.
I was shocked to see FPI project the Rainbow Warriors as a fringe bowl team with 5.9 wins. I think this team will improve from 2022, but six wins seems a bit extreme. I think the Rainbow Warriors are probably closer to a four-win squad. But, their fan base should feel excited about the long term future of this program under Timmy Chang.
The Rams were an absolute disaster in their first season under Jay Norvell. Surprisingly, FPI projects much of the same in 2023. FPI only has the Rams finishing with 4.7 wins. This team has some really impressive talent at the skill positions, enough to squeak into a bowl game.
San Jose State
The Spartans at 5.2 wins was the most puzzling FPI projection for me. This team should be able to contend against any team in the conference with Chevan Cordeiro under center. It would be really disappointing to see this team finish with anything short of seven wins.
The Wolf Pack had a really rough season last year. They were one of the worst offensive teams I have seen since I started following Mountain West football. I just can’t see this team contending for a bowl game this football season. FPI’s projection of 5.3 wins is far too generous. I think they finish with two or three wins.
Similar to the Wolf Pack, I was surprised to see how many wins FPI projected for the Lobos. FPI projects 4.6 wins for the Lobos; this team will likely finish with two or three wins.
That’s it for this edition of “The Good, the Bad, the Ugly.” Do you agree with the FPI projections? Leave your thoughts in the comments below