Boise State, Utah State Lead The Way In 2019 Preseason S&P+ Rankings
Bill Connelly’s projection system forecasts Mountain West football in 2019. The Boise State Broncos and Utah State Aggies lead the way.
Where does your team rank?
Fans of college football analytics rejoiced this morning as SB Nation’s Bill Connelly released his annual preseason S&P+ rankings and, for the most part, it seems as though the Mountain West Conference is likely to be as competitive as ever.
The Boise State Broncos begin the year at #24 by S&P+ — a metric that is based in part upon recruiting, recent history, and returning production — which is the best standing of any Group of 5 team. Despite losing key players like Brett Rypien, Alexander Mattison and Tyler Horton, the Broncos have earned a rare degree of respect from the projections because of their annual successes.
Behind them are the Utah State Aggies, fresh off their best season since 2012, at #42, meaning that Jordan Love and company have every reason to believe that they can contend for the Mountain West crown next fall. The Fresno State Bulldogs, defending conference champions, check in at #51 after finishing atop the MWC in S&P+ last season, while San Diego State lands at #54.
Jeff Tedford’s team is replacing more contributors than nearly everyone in the conference, while Rocky Long’s 2018 was something of a disappointment by the team’s recent standards.
Interestingly, none of the presumed contenders are projected to possess the league’s best offense. That honor belongs to UNLV, who rank 38th by Offensive S&P+ but will have some work to do on the other side of the ball. The Rebels defense, at #121, is projected to be the conference’s worst.
As a conference, the top tier of contenders lags behind the American. Memphis and UCF are right behind Boise State at #26 and #27, respectively, while Cincinnati lands at #44. The good news, however, is that the teams at the bottom might actually be slightly worse: San Jose State begins ahead of both Navy and Connecticut.
Furthermore, the conference has a strong standing relative to the rest of the Group of 5. The Sun Belt, Conference USA and Mid-American Conferences have just one combined team, Appalachian State, in the top half of the 130-team rankings.
Here’s how the entire conference stacks up:
24. Boise State – 41st in Offensive S&P+, 22nd in Defensive S&P+
42. Utah State – 47th in Offensive S&P+, 44nd in Defensive S&P+
51. Fresno State – 87th in Offensive S&P+, 28nd in Defensive S&P+
54. San Diego State – 92nd in Offensive S&P+, 25th in Defensive S&P+
83. Nevada – 77th in Offensive S&P+, 84th in Defensive S&P+
90. Air Force – 74th in Offensive S&P+, 92nd in Defensive S&P+
92. Wyoming – 107th in Offensive S&P+, 68th in Defensive S&P+
94. Hawaii – 58th in Offensive S&P+, 110th in Defensive S&P+
100. UNLV – 38th in Offensive S&P+, 121st in Defensive S&P+
109. Colorado State – 102nd in Offensive S&P+, 112th in Defensive S&P+
115. New Mexico – 104th in Offensive S&P+, 117th in Defensive S&P+
117. San Jose State – 122nd in Offensive S&P+, 103rd in Defensive S&P+