Mountain West Football: Division Champion Tiebreakers, Explained

Mountain West Football: Division Champion Tiebreakers, Explained

Air Force

Mountain West Football: Division Champion Tiebreakers, Explained


#4: Winning percentage against common conference opponents

At this point, we’re back to dealing with the one-loss scenario where the Falcons, Broncos, and Aggies all finish 1-1 against each other and each team finishes 7-1 in conference play. This tiebreaker brings the West division into the fold but, again, there’s no break to be found here because all three teams finished 3-0 against the West. Get ready, though, because the fifth tiebreaker could cause controversy…

#5: The two highest-ranked tied teams are identified, and will revert to the two-team tiebreaker, using a few different potential criteria

The first factor considered at this point are the College Football Playoff rankings, assuming that teams in the top 25 win in the season’s final weekend. Thankfully, a one-loss scenario requires all three teams to do just that. The former, though, requires some speculation right now: If Utah State beats Boise State to set this all up, is that win big enough to bounce the Broncos from the top 25 before they head to Fort Collins?

Furthermore, if Air Force beats New Mexico to get to 9-2 before their finale against Wyoming, could the Falcons be in the top 25? Regardless of how you project the committee’s outcomes, Utah State is at a serious disadvantage here. To keep it simple, if Boise State and/or Air Force are ranked by the CFP and all three teams win their respective finales in this scenario, the Broncos and Falcons would revert to the two-team tiebreaker. Since Boise State owns the head-to-head advantage, they would win the division.

If there are one or no Mountain West teams in the CFP top 25, however, then we go to the computer rankings to decide the one or two teams destined for the two-team tiebreaker. While there is no specification of which computer rankings the Mountain West would rely upon, we can speculate based on the six programs used throughout the BCS era: Anderson and Hester, Billingsley, Massey, the Colley Matrix, Sagarin, and Wolfe. Here’s where each of the three Mountain division teams stand after Week 12.

  • Air Force — Anderson and Hester: 24 | Billingsley: 27 | Massey: 31 | Colley Matrix: 23 | Sagarin: 33 | Wolfe: 24 | Average computer ranking: 27
  • Boise State — Anderson and Hester: 18 | Billingsley: 19 | Massey: 28 | Colley Matrix: 18 | Sagarin: 27 | Wolfe: 20 | Average computer ranking: 21.67
  • Utah State — Anderson and Hester: 42 | Billingsley: 47 | Massey: 58 | Colley Matrix: 40 | Sagarin: 61 | Wolfe: 37 | Average computer ranking: 47.5

Utah State is a distant third, but projecting how the computers would react to an Aggies upset over Boise State is impossible here. Even if Air Force and Boise State switched positions in the eyes of cold hard math, though, remember that this is only a mechanism to reduce the three-way tie to two teams. It also seems unlikely that Utah State could make up so much ground in two weeks, so they would probably get knocked out at this point.

And with that, we go back to head-to-head results. Because Boise State beat Air Force, the Broncos would win the division.

The most likely outcome, of course, is that Boise State takes care of business and renders all of this moot by Saturday night but, in the world of college football, you never know so it’s best to be prepared for anything.


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