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Compu-Picks 2012 Preview: Mountain West

Mr Pac Ten
Posted Aug 25, 2012


2012 Compu-Picks Previews Each 1-A League: Mountain West

Below is the preview for the Mountain West, consisting of five tables. The first shows projections for each Mountain West team, with the others showing key statistics and/or details behind the projections.

Projected ranking and expected results

Expected Wins Projected League Results
Team 2012 Rank 2011 Rank All Games League Games SOS League Finish League Odds
Boise State 32 7 9.40 7.15 89 1 57.6%
Air Force 58 71 7.77 5.74 112 2 14.2%
Wyoming 88 80 6.66 4.56 101 3 7.5%
San Diego State 81 65 6.84 4.48 96 4 5.8%
Fresno State 85 94 6.37 4.48 84 5 6.5%
Hawaii 94 92 6.23 4.30 97 6 4.8%
Nevada 105 54 5.15 3.34 106 7 2.2%
Colorado State 109 111 4.87 2.88 119 8 1.0%
Nevada-Las Vegas 117 114 2.89 1.87 99 9 0.2%
New Mexico 121 118 2.57 1.20 104 10 0.2%

Some notes and comments about the Mountain West and its teams:

1) Even with massive personnel losses, Boise remains the class of the league by a pretty solid margin. Now that TCU is gone, they don't really have any strong challengers, just a bunch of teams where on any given day you never know, and an Air Force team that is at least potentially capable of going on a 7-1 or 8-0 run through the league (since they avoid Boise) and making the race interesting.

2) Speaking of Air Force, they lose a lot of players even for them. That, combined with a clear down season in 2011, makes it odd to see them projected for improvement. Part of it is projected turnaround in luck, part of it is the simple fact that 2011 really did seem like an outlier (so reversion to more normal performance levels is by default fairly likely), and part of it is that they're actually improving their recruiting a bit, which is somewhat surprising for a military school. Of course, an atrocious schedule strength doesn't hurt at all. Michigan is a nasty game, but that gets more than balanced by a AA opponent, Army and Navy, and a MWC slate that doesn't include Boise (which seems really odd; if anything you'd think the league would want to see this potentially interesting matchup).

3) Nevada is projected worse than seems obvious. This is the combined impact of a few things: heavy lettermen losses (not starters so much as overall roster reduction); draft losses; fumble luck in 2011; and lower returning production than a simple list of starters would suggest. This is definitely a contrarian projection, so it'll be interesting to see how it plays out.

The next two tables show key statistics and details underlying the projections, from prior history and performance to luck-related statistics to key indicators of incoming and outgoing talent. Below is a brief explanation of some of these items:


Rank - Projected 2012 ranking, from 1 to 124
2011 Rank - 2011 ranking using the current compu-picks model, from 1 to 120 (does NOT include the four 1-A newcomers)
Prev 4 yr - ranking of the average rating from 2007-2010, from 1 to 120 (does NOT include the four 1-A newcomers)
Injuries - starts lost to injury during the 2011 season, from Phil Steele
Fumble Luck - the number of net turnovers in 2011 due to fumble luck
Recruit Rank - ranking of past 4 years of recruiting (each year equally weighted), from scout.com
Recruit Trend - the difference between the past 3 years of recruiting and the previous 4, ranked from best to worst
Starters - returning offensive / defensive / special teams (kicker and punter) starters, per Phil Steele magazine (* if the QB returns), with some edits due to subsequent news
Returning Yards, Tackles, Int, Sacks, Lettermen - returning production and roster depth; lettermen taken from philsteele.com, with the other stats calculated from cfbstats.com.
Draft Losses - based on the 2012 draft

Key Statistics - Performance, Luck and Coaching

Team 2012 Rank 2011 Rank Prev 4 yr Injuries Turnovers Fumble Luck New Coach
Boise State 32 7 4 37 8 0.5 .
Air Force 58 71 40 36 0 -1.5 .
Wyoming 88 80 97 27 12 -5 .
San Diego State 81 65 83 20 12 -1.5 .
Fresno State 85 94 70 31 -14 -4 1
Hawaii 94 92 75 26 -2 -5.5 1
Nevada 105 54 43 19 0 3.5 .
Colorado State 109 111 94 52 -4 2 1
Nevada-Las Vegas 117 114 101 18 3 5.5 .
New Mexico 121 118 111 31 -8 -2 1

Talent Inflows and Outflows

Team Recruit Rank Recruit Trend Starters Ret. Yards Ret. Tackles Ret. Int Ret. Sacks Ret. Lettermen Draft Losses
Boise State 69 82 4/2/0 36% 40% 60% 20% 71% 37
Air Force 93 41 3/3/1 29% 35% 22% 47% 68% 0
Wyoming 106 77 5*/7/1 77% 61% 77% 32% 73% 0
San Diego State 83 37 6/6/0 39% 53% 47% 28% 63% 12
Fresno State 80 109 7*/7/1 78% 63% 80% 59% 66% 4
Hawaii 81 98 6/4/2 49% 45% 43% 53% 69% 1
Nevada 104 51 6*/6/1 39% 52% 60% 27% 57% 10
Colorado State 99 68 7/8/1 57% 61% 63% 35% 63% 0
Nevada-Las Vegas 89 88 7*/5/2 62% 48% 29% 39% 65% 0
New Mexico 97 71 8*/6/1 52% 48% 33% 40% 66% 0

The next two tables show probability distributions for the projections, based on 5,001 season simulation runs. Please note that a . indicates zero odds, while 0% indicates a non-zero probability that just rounds to 0%. The first table breaks down results across all games, while the second breaks down results across league games only.

Projected Results - All Games

Odds of Winning _ Games
Team E(wins) Stdev (wins) 13 12 11 10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Boise State 9.40 1.91 . 11% 19% 24% 19% 12% 7% 4% 2% 1% 1% 0% 0% 0%
Air Force 7.77 2.17 . 1% 7% 14% 18% 18% 15% 11% 7% 4% 2% 1% 0% 0%
Wyoming 6.66 2.36 . 0% 4% 7% 12% 16% 17% 15% 11% 8% 5% 3% 1% 1%
San Diego State 6.84 2.33 . 1% 4% 8% 13% 15% 18% 15% 11% 8% 4% 2% 1% 1%
Fresno State 6.37 2.27 . 0% 1% 5% 11% 15% 18% 16% 12% 9% 5% 3% 2% 1%
Hawaii 6.23 1.93 . 0% 1% 3% 7% 13% 20% 22% 17% 9% 4% 2% 1% 0%
Nevada 5.15 2.45 . 1% 1% 2% 4% 8% 12% 15% 15% 15% 12% 7% 4% 2%
Colorado State 4.87 2.44 . 0% 1% 2% 4% 7% 10% 14% 16% 16% 12% 9% 6% 3%
Nevada-Las Vegas 2.89 2.21 . 0% 0% 0% 1% 2% 3% 5% 8% 12% 17% 20% 19% 11%
New Mexico 2.57 2.02 . 0% 0% 0% 1% 1% 2% 5% 7% 11% 17% 21% 21% 14%

Projected Results - League Games

Odds of Winning _ League Games
Team E(wins) Stdev (wins) 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1 0
Boise State 7.15 1.14 . 50% 29% 12% 5% 2% 1% 0% 0% 0%
Air Force 5.74 1.63 . 14% 23% 24% 18% 12% 5% 3% 1% 0%
Wyoming 4.56 1.83 . 5% 10% 18% 21% 19% 14% 8% 4% 2%
San Diego State 4.48 1.75 . 3% 11% 16% 21% 21% 15% 9% 4% 1%
Fresno State 4.48 1.87 . 3% 11% 18% 20% 18% 14% 9% 5% 2%
Hawaii 4.30 1.64 . 3% 7% 14% 21% 24% 18% 9% 3% 1%
Nevada 3.34 1.80 . 1% 3% 8% 14% 19% 20% 19% 11% 5%
Colorado State 2.88 1.57 . 0% 1% 4% 8% 17% 25% 25% 14% 5%
Nevada-Las Vegas 1.87 1.47 . 0% 1% 2% 4% 8% 15% 24% 30% 17%
New Mexico 1.20 1.31 . 0% 0% 1% 1% 4% 8% 18% 30% 37%

There are a few important notes and caveats I need to make about this model:

1) Compu-Picks does not endorse implicitly or explicitly any form of illegal gambling. Compu-Picks is intended to be used for entertainment purposes only.

2) No guarantee or warranty is offered or implied by Compu-Picks for any information provided and/or predictions made.

3) This preseason model is primarily based on the main compu-picks model. Essentially, it attempts to predict how well a team will rate given its rating history, as well as a number of other data points, such as returning starters, draft talent lost, turnovers, recruiting, etc. This means, among other things, that the rankings are power rankings based on how good a team projects to be, as opposed to a more cynical (though accurate) model that attempts to project how the BCS will rank a team by making adjustments to favor those with easy schedules and punish those with tough schedules.

4) I have provided adjusted division (or league) odds in a couple of instances. For the Big Ten Leaders, it shows the odds of each team winning adjusting for the fact that Ohio St and Penn St will both be ineligible. The same is true for the ACC Coastal and North Carolina.

5) There is a substantial amount of noise in these projections, which is to be expected given the large number of unknowns (who will have good and bad luck with injuries, which young players will improve and which won't, how specific matchups will come into play, etc.). Right now the standard error is a bit over 0.2 on a scale of about -1 to +1. It's important to look at the projections with this in mind to get a sense of how material the projected differences are. Given a standard error around 0.2, it is safe to project Alabama to be a much better team than Mississippi St, but it is not safe to project Mississippi St to be any better than Arkansas, much less a lot better.

6) At this point, there are a number of model features that need to be investigated further. Chief among these is the distribution of extreme events. It appears that the model may be overstating the probabilities of extreme events, such as 12-0 or 0-12 records, or major underdogs winning their division/league. This overstatement has been reduced compared to last year's projections, but still likely exists to some degree. Please keep this in mind when looking at the distribution of win probabilities.

7) Since there is much less data available for the four 1-A newcomers, the power rating methodology has been more manual and arbitrary. As a consequence, I am somewhat less confident of the projections for those four teams than I am for the other 120 1-A members. Please keep this in mind when looking at the newcomers' projections.

2012 Compu-Picks Blog

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