Last season, the MWC started off with a losing record of 16-18, with only one P5 win, (Air Force over Colorado) and 14 loses. Nevada and lost to Incarnate Word and Utah State was on the receiving end of a beatdown from Weber State. This year, the MWC is currently 13-13 with P5 wins over Purdue and Texas Tech. With USU and Air Force kicking off the conference schedule on Friday, this week on Stats Corner we are going to rank how well the teams have done when compared to pre-season expectations. This is not looking at wins and losses in the traditional sense and the top teams are not necessarily the best teams, just the ones who have met or exceeded pre-season expectations.
The Cowboys started the season with only a 16.6% chance of beating Texas Tech, then got down 17-0 in the first quarter. It took a couple overtimes, but they got the win, which is all that really matters. The next week they had a 97% chance of beating Portland State and the game was never really close.
2) Fresno State
The Bulldogs started the season as huge underdogs to the Boilermakers, only having a 25.6% chance of winning and not having a lead until the 4th quarter. One of the most impressive victories for the MWC this year. That win was almost off set by needing overtime to beat Eastern Washington, when the Bulldogs had an 89.6% chance of winning at the beginning of the game.
Slightly over achieving
3) New Mexico
The Lobos only had a 2.8% chance against Texas A&M, but 52-10 is a little out of control. They did blow out Tennessee Tech 56-10 on a 92.6% chance, which is better than expected. Not a lot was expected by the Lobos this season, so they get the top over achieving spot.
4) Air Force
The Falcons are 2-0, but they were expected to win both those games. They had a 98.6% chance of beating Robert Morris and 73.1% chance of beating Sam Houston. The 42-7 victory of Robert Morris was what was expected, but Sam Houston was closer, 13-3, than it should have been. Even though Sam Houston hung around 14-0 against BYU, they gave the Falcons more trouble than expected, knocking them down a couple spots in this ranking. This week against the Aggies will go a long way in determining how the season goes for both teams, currently it is 55%-45% for the Falcons, but this game started the season at 70%-30%.
5) Utah State
The Aggies only had a 7.1% chance against Iowa, but they kept it close. They had a 90.4% against Idaho State and blew them away, much better than Weber State last year. Most people expected the Aggies to be 1-1 right now, but they are doing better than expected, see change in percentage against Air Force.
Win big when you are supposed to 44-14 over Bryant at 98.5% and lose big when expected 35-7 against Michigan at 2.2%. Not bad, not great compared to expectations. The Rebels are almost even against Vanderbilt, 45.9%, this weekend. A win here would put them firmly in the over-preformed category.
The expectations for the Rainbow Warriors was not high, therefore 1-2 is a good start to the season. Only 17.7% against Vanderbilt, but the game was close at 35-28 and 43.3% against Stanford was somewhat close at 37-24. The 31-20 victory at UAlbany was closer than a 85.4% should have been, but 1-2 is not disappoint for Hawaii.
8) San Diego State
I was tempted to put the Aztecs in the slightly disappointing category, as they have not over achieved, but they are about what was expected. A 20-13 victory over Ohio, when their probability was 61.1% was good. However, a 36-28 victory against Idaho State against a 95.8% chance combined with a 35-10 lose to UCLA at just 19.5% chance are slightly disappointing compared to expectations. So, they stay in slightly over achieving, but are the lowest team.
9) San Jose State
Very similar to San Diego State. While they were not expected to beat USC, 4.0%, and Oregon State, 19.2%, they should not have been blown out like they were. A 59-3 demolishment of Cal Poly, at 88.9%, is not quite enough to get them out of being slightly disappointing.
10) Colorado State
This does feel a little unfair, since the Rams have only played one game and they only had a 32.3% chance of winning, but they did lose 50-24 which was more than expected. This week does not look much better with a 11.9% chance against Colorado.
Not playing to expectations
11) Boise State
Part of this ranking is the expectations the Broncos have. They have created the expectation of being the flag bearer for the MWC. As a result, this season is not off to a good start. They had a 24.0% against Washington, but lost 56-19 and 21.1% chance against UCF before losing in the last minute 18-16. Two Power 5 teams, one blowout lose one close lose, for most teams that would be in a slightly category, but the expectations for the Broncos, fair or not, are higher.
12) Nothing is going right
Getting blown out by USC with a low probability of winning, 2.9%, seems familiar. However, getting blown out at home by Idaho in a toss-up game, 48.4%, means you are at the bottom of expectations.