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What the numbers tell us about who has Mountain West football supremacy

Albertson's Stadium
Boise State has the best MW record since the divisional split in 2013. (Handout)

There are plenty of ways to measure the success of a football program, but I tend to look within conference play since teams take on varying levels of difficulties in non-conference action, which makes comparisons from a record standpoint difficult out of conference. Looking within the conference isn't perfect, either, since teams no longer play uniform schedules, but it's better than the alternative. With this year's regular season over, let's take a look at how each team in the Mountain West has fared within conference play since 2013 when the MW's current conference membership was formed. And just for fun, I tossed in BYU, which has played, on average, a little more than four MW teams per season over the last six seasons. The Cougars, of course, deemed themselves better than the rest of the MW, although it hasn't shown up in the win-loss column since leaving the league. Here are our results.

Mountain West records

1. Boise State, 38-10 (79.2%)

2. San Diego State, 35-13 (72.9%)

3. Utah State, 30-18 (62.5%)

4. BYU, 14-9 (60.9%)

5t. Colorado State, 28-20 (58.3%)

5t. Fresno State, 28-20 (58.3%)

7. Air Force, 23-25 (47.9%)

8t. Wyoming, 22-26 (45.8%)

8t. Nevada, 22-26 (45.8%)

10. UNLV, 17-31 (54.8%)

11t. New Mexico, 16-32 (33.3%)

11t. San Jose State, 16-32 (33.3%)

13. Hawaii, 13-35 (27.1%)

Takeaways: Boise State unsurprisingly tops the list and SDSU is three wins back (the schools were tied heading into this season). Boise State is the only MW school to have a winning conference record every season since 2013. Fresno State has had three 7-1 seasons (the most among MW teams in this sample size) that sandwich two brutal years. As much grief as I give SJSU, the Spartans aren't last on this list. Hawaii had two 0-8 MW seasons under Norm Chow, dragging down its record. And our friends at BYU rank fourth on the list.

Divisional titles

Fresno State, 4

Boise State, 3

San Diego State, 2

Utah State, 1

Wyoming, 1

Air Force, 1

Mountain West titles

Boise State, 2

San Diego State, 2

Fresno State, 1

Takeaways: Fresno State has had the most cracks at the MW title, winning four of the six West Division titles (SDSU took the other two). The Mountain Division has had more parity, with four teams advancing to play for a MW crown. If Boise State beats Fresno State on Saturday, it will move ahead of SDSU in the MW title race. If Fresno State wins, it will create a three-way tie at the top.

And finally

For the first time since 2013, the Mountain Division did not beat the West Division in the cross-division matchups (teams played three cross-division matchups per season). The teams split the 18 matchups (9-9), which shows some progress from the West Division, which was 7-11 against the Mountain in 2017, 4-14 against the Mountain in 2016, 6-12 against the Mountain in 2015 and 5-13 against the Mountain in 2014 (a record of 22-50 against the Mountain in the four years leading up to this season). The West was 11-7 against the Mountain in 2013, the first year of the split, which puts the overall total at 66-42 in favor of the Mountain.

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