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78 Days Until Kansas Football: What if KU were in the Mountain West?

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We’re not considering basketball, we’re only talking football here. How well would KU fare in the Mountain West?

NCAA Football: Colorado State at Wyoming Troy Babbitt-USA TODAY Sports

So Wyoming had their quarterback taken in the top 10 of the NFL Draft a few weeks ago. No doubt he would have enjoyed the opportunity to pad his stats against KU over the past couple of years. Or would he? Let’s investigate.

We’ve already taken a look at KU in the MAC and in the Sun Belt. Today, it’s time to turn our eyes westward.

Once again, we’ll use the F+ ratings available at FootballOutsiders.com. If you read up, it does appear that yes, the two components of F+ (S&P+ and FEI) both adjust for opponents and strength of schedule, so this should theoretically give us a pretty good idea of how well Kansas would fare outside of the Big 12.

For 2018, the MWC will be a 12-team league divided into two divisions, obviously with a conference title game at the end. As usual, we’ll do our best to ignore the divisions for this exercise.

KU in the MWC

School 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
School 2017 2016 2015 2014 2013
KANSAS 123 108 127 99 101
Air Force 98 50 63 48 113
Boise State 20 19 37 21 45
Colorado State 66 46 86 49 66
New Mexico 112 83 99 94 110
Utah State 74 77 53 52 32
Wyoming 58 57 115 113 102
Fresno State 40 114 103 102 49
Hawaii 121 105 120 111 82
Nevada 110 122 97 64 88
San Diego St 38 41 43 76 89
San Jose St 130 116 89 116 74
UNLV 96 113 105 118 96

The first thing I like to do is take a look at some possible future head coaches for Kansas. Sorry guys, I’m just not impressed with Troy Calhoun at Air Force. Boise State obviously sticks out; Bryan Harsin has been there since 2014 when he took over for Chris Petersen. He’s probably a long shot, as he was born in raised in Boise and played quarterback for the Broncos from 1995-99.

Craig Bohl has been at Wyoming since 2014. Jeff Tedford still only 56 years old and turned Fresno State around in one year last year. San Diego State’s numbers look good, but Rocky Long, who has been there since 2011, is 68 years old.

So let’s break down the spreadsheet a bit. By the numbers, Kansas would have finished in the bottom third of the Mountain West in three of the last five years, including a last place finish in 2015. Ouch.

However, much like the Sun Belt, there are a lot of dregs at the bottom of this barrel. Boise State looks like the only sure-fire loss every year, as the conference only has two or three teams rated in the top 50 in any given season.

Best case scenario looks like 2014, where KU could have picked up six wins in conference play, assuming the schedule broke correctly and they managed to avoid any upsets. You can make that seven or eight wins if KU picks off one of New Mexico, Nevada, or San Diego State. Add a couple of non-con wins and you’re looking at a 10-win season!

Every other season, well, luckily KU would have Hawaii, Nevada, UNLV, New Mexico, and San Jose State to hang out with. KU could probably win a couple of those games every year and depending on the noncon slate could be a perennial 3-5 win team in the MWC, with the occasional bowl game.