16 teams from the Group of Five schools entered the last weekend of September with one or fewer losses. Two of the 16 were undefeated. Only Marshall remained unbeaten after the weekend was over, and eight others lived to see October with a sole defeat. As a result, the field is getting thinner in the hunt for the first-ever guaranteed berth to the highest-rated mid-major school into one of the big-time New Year’s bowl games.
Of the seven teams to fall this weekend, some seemed inevitable heading into the weekend. Memphis at Ole Miss, Wyoming at Michigan State, UTEP at Kansas State, Western Michigan at Virginia Tech… none of these instilled much confidence in an upset, notwithstanding the Tigers’ doggedness in Oxford and the Hokies’ earlier collapse to East Carolina.
Other contests were a toss-up, with neophyte Old Dominion unable to hang with Middle Tennessee and UAB stumbling against FIU in a pair of Conference USA showdowns. The one elimination contest pitting one-loss Mountain West teams, though, went completely counter to what one might have predicted.
Boise State came to Colorado Springs to face an Air Force team that had already suffered a conference loss. The Broncos proved in their loss at Ole Miss that they are not of their greatest vintage this season, but conventional wisdom said that Boise would be able to outlast a team that had boosted its record against Nicholls State and Georgia State.
So the Falcons promptly stomped the Broncos, naturally, sending the Mountain Division into a tailspin. Instead of Boise State rising to 2-0 in MWC play, Wyoming remains atop the division despite their loss to the Spartans this week. Behind them, they hold the head-to-head tiebreaker over Air Force, and the 1-1 Falcons now hold the same advantage over the 1-1 Broncos.
Heading into the inaugural season of the new College Football Playoff era, it seemed as though the Mountain West was one of the best-positioned conferences among the Group of Five to take advantage of the new automatic bid. Now, barring a run of the table by Wyoming (whose two losses came to Michigan State and Oregon, who are both still in the running for the national championship) or Nevada (who went 1-1 against Pac-12 opponents) the league’s chances of reaching another big-time bowl seem to be on life support.
The pecking order remains firm at the top, as the two main contenders took a break this weekend. Chaos abounded behind the pair, as the deck reshuffled. Let’s dive in and evaluate the nine teams still in contention in this week’s CFP Mid-Major Power Rankings…