January 30, 2023

Non-conference games serve a variety of purposes. In some cases, teams can use it to troubleshoot and prepare for the regular season. In other cases, it’s a cash heist, taking money to play games against programs in exchange for money to boost their budget. Most importantly, it’s a chance for Mountain West to compete with other conferences and make a statement against Power Five teams.

This article examines how the Mountain West have fared in their non-conference schedule this season. Overall, they went an impressive 31-18. Specifically, her record was 5-11 against teams from Power 5 conferences, plus two other P5 wins in bowl games.

Note: This article does not include bowl games and instead focuses on the off-conference regular season.

Mountain West 2022 OOC Record:

  • Total: 20-28
  • P5: 1-16 (including Notre Dame)
  • BYU: 0-3
  • G5: 9-4 (including UConn)
  • State of New Mexico: 1-2
  • FCS: 9-3
  • 1 no competition (SJSU vs. NMSU)

overturning power (less) 5

This game wasn’t really a surprise as the Falcons came into play favorably and completely abused the buffs on the field. But any win against teams from Power 5 conferences is great for Mountain West, and this one is no exception. Unfortunately, it was the anomaly in the 2022 season as it was the only P5 win in the regular season.

Good losses for the Power 5

  • Fresno State vs. Oregon State L
  • SJSU vs. Auburn L
  • UNLV vs Cal L

All three of those games were close losses, and at least two of them could have ended in victories for the Mountain West. To some extent, all three teams had pretty good chances of winning. While Morale wins don’t matter much, it does mean that MWC has performed well against teams with more resources.

Heavy losses for the Power 5

  • Colorado State vs. Washington State L
  • Colorado State vs Michigan L
  • Boise State vs. Oregon State L
  • Fresno State vs. USC L
  • Hawaii vs Vanderbilt L
  • Hawaii vs Michigan L
  • Nevada vs Iowa L
  • New Mexico vs LSU L
  • SDSU vs Arizona L
  • SDSU vs. Utah L
  • UNLV vs. Notre Dame L
  • State of Utah vs. Alabama L
  • Wyoming vs Illinois L

Almost all of these games ended in blowouts. The ones that weren’t were losses that the Mountain West teams never really felt about. Some weren’t surprising at all, like losses to Colorado State, Hawaii, UNLV, or Utah State. Other games, like Boise State or the two San Diego States, were a disappointment because many thought these teams should have played more competitively or possibly even won. Overall, it’s sad that thirteen of the seventeen MWC games against P5 teams are in this category.

NMSU: Unofficial 13th Mountain West member

  • Hawaii vs New Mexico State L
  • Nevada vs New Mexico State W
  • New Mexico vs New Mexico State L
  • SJSU vs. NMSU canceled

Why do Mountain West teams keep planning games against New Mexico State? New Mexico makes sense because of the domestic rivalry, but that’s about the only thing. The independent Aggies have their schedules to fill, but the MWC teams that play them have little to gain and much to lose by taking the field. And that’s exactly what happened this year when Mountain West went 2-1 to them and game four was canceled. While the rivalry game stings more, none of these losses are excusable and hurt the conference’s overall numbers.

The Academy Games

  • Air Force vs. Navy W
  • Luftwaffe vs. Army W

Air Force took a 2-0 lead in games against arch-rivals. That’s always the goal when it comes to the Commander-In-Chief Trophy games, and this year the Falcons won the hardware and bragging rights.

BYU games

  • Boise State vs BYU L
  • State of Utah vs BYU L
  • Wyoming vs. BYU L

BYU was a ranked and good team for the first half of this season, although not as good as last season. The Cowboys played them hard, and the Aggies played them tight and actually led at one point. Meanwhile, the Broncos arguably should have beaten them in a back-and-forth game but came up short. The 0-3 doesn’t quite show how competitive those games were, but in the end it’s disappointing not to get a single win.

Group of 5 matchups

  • Boise State vs. UTEP L
  • Colorado State vs Middle Tennessee L
  • Fresno State vs. UConn L
  • Hawaii vs Western Kentucky L
  • Nevada vs Texas State W
  • New Mexico vs UTEP W
  • SDSU vs. Toldeo W
  • SJSU vs Western Michigan W
  • UNLV vs North Texas W
  • Utah State vs. UConn W
  • Wyoming vs Tulsa W

These matches, as the name suggests, are played against other Group 5 teams and depending on the team, the matches can sometimes be even. That being said, the Mountain West should still win the majority of those games to boost their standing. This season, the Mountain West did well in that category, winning seven games (nine if you count CIC games) while losing four. It should have been better, however, with heavy losses from Boise State and Fresno State. It’s also worth noting that none of these games will be played against teams from the American Athletic Conference. It’s disappointing that the two conferences didn’t play each other (other than Air Force vs. Navy).

FCS Gimme Games (Wins)

  • Air Force vs. Northern Iowa W
  • Boise State vs. UT Martin W
  • Fresno State vs. Cal Poly W
  • Hawaii vs Duquesne W
  • New Mexico vs Maine W
  • SDSU vs Idaho State W
  • SJSU vs Portland State W
  • UNLV vs. Idaho State W
  • Wyoming vs Northern Colorado W

FCS games should be gimmes. Keep in mind that the Mountain West teams almost always pay money for these teams to come in and lose. MWC teams are expected to win, and getting nine wins is a huge achievement. But they really shouldn’t lose any of those games. It is questionable whether they should plan these games at all.

FCS Gimme Games (Losses)

  • State of Colorado vs. State of Sacramento L
  • Nevada vs. Word Incarnate L
  • State of Utah vs. State of Weber L

However, three Mountain West teams lost to FCS teams that season. This is no blow to the FCS teams as they deserve recognition for the victories they deserve. However, it speaks to the quality of the conference when those losses occur, and for the above two teams who have struggled this season, it speaks to how tough it has been to win. Ultimately, those games were a disappointment for the Mountain West this season.

bottom line

Overall, the Mountain West had a disappointing performance on its non-conference schedule. Not only have they failed to make a positive statement against Power 5 teams, but they have had losing records against BYU and New Mexico State, and suffered three losses against FCS teams. The conference must have a better performance in 2023.

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