When San Jose State came back to defeat Nevada at “home” (in Las Vegas, on a field with New Mexico’s home markings) and clinch the MWC West, it continued one of college football’s most stirring 2020 stories, one that would continue a week later when the Spartans knocked off Boise State to win their first MWC title.
The Spartans return almost everyone from that title team, but the most noteworthy MWC story of 2021 could end up being just how ridiculously competitive the West race ends up becoming. SP+ projects the top four teams in the division — Nevada, Fresno State, SJSU and SDSU — all within 10 spots of each other in the overall rankings. These four teams played four games against each other last year, and they were decided by a total of 29 points. This year, things could be even closer.
A reminder, by the way, about the projected records you see below: They are based on win probabilities. A 50% probability equals 0.5 wins. So when you see that each of the top four teams are projected to go 5-3 in conference, it’s because there are so many close games in their future. That’s not good for anxiety levels out west, but it’s great for us.
Every week through the summer, Bill Connelly will preview another division from the Group of 5 and Power 5 exclusively for ESPN+, ultimately including all 130 FBS teams. The previews will include 2020 breakdowns, 2021 previews and a brief history of each team in one handy chart. The series has thus far covered the Conference USA East and West and the MAC East and West, as well as the MWC Mountain.
In 2020, Marcus Arroyo coached his first season as head man at UNLV. He’ll start 2021 still looking for his first win.