Weaknesses: A Six Pack Of MWC Mountain Division Numbers
By Ken Pomponio
From rankings and statistics to advanced analytics to your basic game scores, college football is, more than ever, a numbers game.
That in mind, here’s a countdown of the numbers that need to change this coming season for the six teams in the Mountain West Conference’s Mountain Division:
49 – Years since New Mexico has won or shared a conference title, easily the longest such drought in the MWC. It was 1964, and LBJ was in the White House when the Lobos went 3-1 in the Western Athletic Conference to share the title with Utah and Arizona in the conference’s third season. Bad news, though, Lobo Nation: Bob Davie’s squad is picked to bring up the rear in the Mountain Division this year, so the drought likely will hit a half-century before UNM has a decent chance to snap the skid.
30.2 – Points per game in 2012 for Boise State, the program’s lowest seasonal average since 1998. The Broncos still won a share of the MWC title thanks largely to its eighth-ranked FBS scoring defense (15.8 allowed per outing), but quarterback Joe Southwick and Co. are going to have to do better this season if BSU wants to return to the BCS bowl discussion.
29 – Turnovers this past season for Air Force, the program’s most since giving it away 32 times way back in ’82. That resulted in a minus-13 turnover margin in 2012 for the normally opportunistic Falcons and played no small role in Troy Calhoun’s first sub-.500 season (6-7) since taking charge at the Academy in ’07.
14 – Sacks for 4-8 Wyoming this past season, which brought up the rear in the MWC and tied for 109th nationally in the FBS. Opponents took full advantage of the lack of heat, throwing for an average of 238 yards per outing and putting up 33.4 points a game. That negative-12 sack differential will need to be flipped if the ’Pokes are to climb back above .500.
7, 4 – The respective Colorado State losing streaks versus its two biggest rivals: Air Force and Wyoming. The Rams’ futility against AFA has matched an all-time high, while the four-game Border War skid is the program’s longest since the early '70s. And if Jim McElwain’s Rams have any serious designs on playing in a bowl for the first time since 2008, they’re likely going to need to find a way to win one or both of the rivalry contests this fall.
-15 – Turnover differential for Utah State the last three seasons, including a perplexing minus-1 a season ago when the Aggies sported a Top-25-ranked offense and defense and capped an 11-2 season with a Famous Idaho Potato Bowl win. Still, that was in the WAC, and even casual USU fans know their team needs to finish on the positive side of the all-important takeaway-giveaway ledger if they have any shot of getting past Boise State and winning the Mountain Division.