#3: Winning percentage against the next-highest placed team in the division (based upon the team’s conference record), proceeding through the division
If all three teams finish with one loss: Same as the second tiebreaker. We’re still deadlocked because all three teams would be perfect against fourth, fifth and sixth place. We’d have to move to tiebreaker number four, which we’ll get to in a minute.
If all three teams finish with two losses (as outlined above): Now we’re cooking. Fourth place never mattered so much, and at this point we turn our attention to this Saturday’s iteration of the Border War between Colorado State and Wyoming.
Here’s the first thing to remember at this point: The rules state that lower-ordered teams are considered one entity if they finish in a tie, against which winning percentage is measured. What this means is that the tiebreaker plays out differently if either CSU or Wyoming finishes 5-3 instead of ending up at 4-4.
Here’s the second thing to remember, as explained in the document written by the Mountain West Conference and updated back in July:
If, at any time during this analysis, any team(s) should gain an advantage over the other team(s) tied at that position, the team(s) holding the advantage shall move forward in the tiebreaking process while the other team(s) are eliminated. If it is reduced to a two-team tie at any point, the process shall then revert to the beginning of the tie-breaking procedures (tie between two teams) and shall be applied (in order) until the two-team tie is broken.
If you’re starting to feel like Charlie Kelly tracking down Pepe Silvia, don’t worry. You aren’t alone down here in this rabbit hole. There are three potential scenarios here.
Scenario 1: Any two-loss scenario assumes that the Rams beat Boise State, so there’s no way that Colorado State can finish in fourth place and finish 4-4. If they get there, it’s because they win the Border War.
- Colorado State (5-3) beats Wyoming (4-4 or 3-5): win vs. Boise State, loss vs. Air Force and Utah State — Boise State is out as lone team to lose to 4th-place CSU, Air Force has head-to-head tiebreak vs. Utah State, Air Force wins the division
Scenario 2: What happens if Wyoming wins the Border War? The Cowboys could then get to 5-3, and sole possession of fourth place, by handing Air Force its second conference loss:
- Wyoming (5-3) beats Colorado State (4-4) and Air Force (6-2): win vs. Air Force, loss vs. Boise State and Utah State — Air Force is out as lone team to lose to 4th-place Wyoming, Utah State has head-to-head tiebreak vs. Boise State, Utah State wins the division
Scenario 3: Wyoming could finish 4-4 if they beat CSU but lose to Air Force. If we know the Rams beat Boise State in this scenario, they would finish 4-4, as well. The last two weeks would have to play out like this to get here:
- Wyoming (4-4) beats Colorado State and loses to Air Force, Colorado State (4-4) loses to Wyoming and beats Boise State (6-2), Air Force (6-2) loses to New Mexico and beats Wyoming, Utah State (6-2) beats Boise State and loses to New Mexico
Bob Davie, Lord of Chaos? It could happen. In our hypothetical 4-4 tie, winning percentage against Colorado State and Wyoming would be taken together rather than separately:
- Colorado State (4-4): win vs. Boise State, loss vs. Air Force and Utah State
- Wyoming (4-4): loss vs. Air Force and Boise State and Utah State
Boise State is 1-1 and Utah State and Air Force are each 2-0. The Broncos would be knocked out and we’d go back to the first two-team tiebreaker, where Air Force has the head-to-head advantage on Utah State and would thus win the division.
One way or another, the Border War winner and the two-loss scenario would, at this point, bounce things back to head-to-head results. Assuming again that each team finishes with two losses as outlined at the onset, here are the potential scenarios again:
- Scenario 1: Colorado State beats Wyoming and Boise State — Boise State is out as lone team to lose to 4th-place CSU, Air Force has head-to-head vs. Utah State, Air Force wins the division
- Scenario 2: Wyoming beats Colorado State and Air Force — Air Force is out as lone team to lose to 4th-place Wyoming, Utah State has head-to-head vs. Boise State, Utah State wins the division
- Scenario 3: Wyoming beats Colorado State but loses to Air Force, Air Force loses to New Mexico — Boise State is out as lone team to lose CSU and/or Wyoming, Air Force has head-to-head vs. Utah State, Air Force wins the division
Did you get all that? Basically, losing out doesn’t end well for the Boise State Broncos, so it is best to just take care of business sooner rather than later.