College Football Playoff Rankings: How Much Progress Will San Diego State Make in the Top 25?
The Aztecs stand alone among Mountain West teams in the College Football Playoff rankings. How high can they rise after last week’s results?
San Diego State only needs a break or two.
After Fresno State’s epic stumble against Boise State on Saturday afternoon, the San Diego State Aztecs will venture into the second week of the College Football rankings on Tuesday afternoon as the one Mountain West football team likely to get ranked.
For all of the successes that the Aztecs have had in the last decade or so, this is new territory. The only thing standing between San Diego State and the inside track in the race for a New Year’s Six bowl bid is a little bit of chaos back east in the American Athletic Conference. New teams might jump into the top 25 to challenge both the Aztecs and the Bearcats after another fair bit of upheaval, though, so how might things have changed after the committee’s first impressions last week?
Here’s how each current contender in the Mountain West stacks up:
#24 San Diego State Aztecs (8-1)
SP+ rank: 39 | FEI rank: 62 | Sagarin rank: 55 | Strength-of-schedule rank: 111/125
What’s new for the Aztecs? One can’t help but wonder how many committee members stayed up late (or DVRed for Sunday, at least) to watch the Aztecs put Hawaii in a sleeper hold, but it seems pretty evident that the Aztecs are comfortable with who they are and it works incredibly well: A ground-and-pound offense that doesn’t make many mistakes, a defense that’s the best in the Group of 5, and a special teams unit that’s at least in a similar conversation.
Because the Warriors have been inconsistent this year, though, the win isn’t likely to move the needle in a vacuum for this week. Better news elsewhere, like Utah’s blowout win over Stanford and Arizona scoring its first win of the year, should help buoy SDSU’s overall standing even if there’s still work to be done. Whether that’s outweighed by Fresno State’s loss to Boise State, however, depends on whether the committee now views the Bulldogs as closer to a top-30 team or a top-40 one.
Utah State Aggies (7-2)
What’s new for the Aggies? After a slow start on the road in Las Cruces, the Aggies once again found a way to pull things together and, thanks to their explosive offense and surging defense, ended up coasting to a win over New Mexico State. Because NMSU continues to languish among the worst teams in the FBS, however, Utah State’s schedule-to-date takes a hit despite adding another win to the overall resume.
On the plus side, Blake Anderson’s Aggies continue to make progress by stringing together a pair of more complete games than they played earlier in the season. You can make the case they’re coming around and, given the opportunity to perhaps score another pair of wins against bowl-eligible teams in the next two weeks (San Jose State and Wyoming), it isn’t inconceivable that the Aggies sneak into the top 25 should they run the table and make it to the Mountain West championship game.
Another thing that could help in the long run is that Utah State’s pair of losses were both competitive. If BYU can hold its standing against a soft November slate and Boise State can keep winning, you have to imagine that could change the committee’s perception of the Aggies (as would Washington State reaching bowl eligibility; the Cougars are now one win away from that after beating Arizona State last weekend).
Nevada Wolf Pack (7-2)
SP+ rank: 68 | FEI rank: 63 | Sagarin rank: 46 | Strength-of-schedule rank: 98/111
What’s new for the Wolf Pack? It wasn’t the prettiest win at home against San Jose State and though the elements on Saturday are at least partly to blame, it helps to explain why Nevada suffered a slight dip from last week by each of the above measures. As with Utah State, you have to think the Wolf Pack can only benefit from the Spartans finding a way to bowl eligibility, but the bigger hurdle is right in front of them this coming Saturday in Carson.
Beat the Aztecs on the road and the conversation about the Wolf Pack, who would have sole possession of first place in the West division with a win, will change drastically.
How do these Mountain West teams stack up against everyone else left in the hunt? Read on to learn more.